Love and Loss

I wonder if much of a person’s fear or hesitation to love is really just an attempt to avoid the pain of loss. Amputations hurt so much because of how attached we are to the members of our body. Death … Continue reading


Death Is a Fact of Life

Perhaps it’s just a sign of my age. Last year began with sickness—mine. This year began with a number of people I know (or am in some way connected to) dying. It doesn’t seem right for a new year to … Continue reading


Letter to Myself in Mourning

Dear Myself in Mourning: I am writing to you from the future to say that it is worth living towards. I know it feels as though the world has relinquished all of its joy and purpose. I know life feels … Continue reading


The Path

Feeling the cool embrace of the night air around us, we took deliberate and cautious steps. The thigh-high weeds were making it difficult to navigate the path. In fact, calling it a path at this point was an act of … Continue reading


Happiness Takes Courage

Happiness takes courage. You have to be brave to surrender to joy. When every molecule of your being has been mourning—when loss has permeated and ruptured your heart—you must be dauntless to pursue mirth. You must find great multitudes of … Continue reading


Missing Her

I thought I’d be better at this by now—missing her. Some years it’s not as bad. Other years it feels unbearable. Time has helped, but time also hurts. The loss grows less foreign each year. But each year also carries … Continue reading


Hello & Goodbye

Nearly two decades ago my grandfather was dying, and we all came to Grenada to say goodbye. He ended up living for two or three more years, but every visit felt final. It was about that time that I made … Continue reading


With a Heavy Heart

It is with a heavy heart that I watch the news. It is with a heavy heart that I hear the assumptions and accusations while hoping for the truth. And yet I also fear what that truth could be. And … Continue reading


When Mourning

Death teaches as it takes. As a professor, it is patient and exacting—demanding much of us with lessons we can delay but never escape. Death is also pretty inconsiderate. I’ve never been where I wanted to be when death took … Continue reading


Mourning on Mother’s Day

On any given day, someone is rejoicing and someone is grieving. Mother’s Day is no different. There are mothers being pampered and others being mourned and remembered. It is a day, like so many, when we’re reminded of the intersections between the living and the dead. Within one generation there can be women who mourn while they are also being celebrated.

Mother’s Day makes me think about life and death. I grieve with those for whom this is another in a line of Mother’s Days without the child they want but cannot have, or without the child they had but lost. I also rejoice with those of you who are celebrating Mother’s Day as a mother (or an expectant mother) for the first time. Life is always a miracle, but for some that miracle comes after years of yearning, disappointment, and loss. Regardless of whether your road to motherhood was short or long or easy or arduous, your first Mother’s Day as a mother will be full of life and joy. Savor it.

For me, Mother’s Day will always have a component of mourning added to the celebration of life. I feel grateful for the mother who birthed and raised me. I am glad to be alive. I’m so thankful for the mother I had and the memories we shared, but I can’t celebrate Mother’s Day without some sadness or the wish that my mother could still be here.

My mother died more than a decade ago, but on Mother’s Day that loss feels especially fresh. And I know that I am not alone in my bereavement. Every Mother’s Day I think about those for whom it will be the first since their mother died. I remember the year of sad seasonal firsts after my mother passed away. The happier the occasion used to be, the more her absence rendered subsequent celebrations empty. For me, holidays were the hardest. Every milestone became a heavy burden to bear. Those first few years, when the loss was still a fresh cut to my heart, seeing everyone else’s joy felt like filling my wound with salt. For a while, all happiness was a reminder of what I’d lost.

There are a lot of people mourning on Mother’s Day. I know because of my experiences visiting the cemetery. There is always a traffic jam outside the entrance, and finding a parking spot is like discovering a bilingual, three-winged unicorn on the subway. I felt painfully self-conscious one year when I arrived to find a picnic occurring a few tombstones away. The family had lively music playing from an open car, lawn chairs, and a box of pizza. I didn’t begrudge their way of marking the day, but it was a distracting contradiction to my own. Now I try to avoid the cemetery on Mother’s Day. I don’t like to be there with a crowd. I like it to be quiet and private. I want it to feel like it’s just me and my love for her.

There are lots of emotions being experienced on Mother’s Day. Some have mothers; others have memories. For some it’s sad or complicated; for others it’s purely celebratory. Not everyone knew his or her mother—or liked her. Not everyone’s childhood provided healthy love and happy nostalgia.

But whatever you feel, whether good, bad, or mixed, know that someone else out there is in a similar emotional position. You’re not alone in feeling those feelings or thinking those thoughts. Whatever Mother’s Day is like for you, you’re not the only one.