This is not the first time I have experienced something huge without my mother. For some reason, I just didn’t think it would be this hard. I would like to say that I just didn’t think about it, but that isn’t true. I thought about it a lot, but I truly believed that I would weather it differently.
These are the times I have missed her: when I look at bassinets online, when I think about where I will store the furniture we need to buy, when my dearest friends offer me hand-me-downs, when my brother says he wants to buy me something, when I have to buy maternity clothes, when my boobs are suddenly the size of grapefruits.
I am standing there, bra in hand, marveling at the fact that my breasts have morphed into something I don’t recognize, and suddenly I am weeping in the dressing room.
I am going through the book about baby bargains at the kitchen table, thinking to myself that the selection of bassinets are basically the ugliest things I have ever seen and then I realize that I am feeling bereft that there won’t be one waiting at my mother’s house ready to come to Boston when she gets the news about the bean.
I am trudging through department stores with Matt, irritated that most maternity clothes make me look like a pregnant orka, and I am furious that she isn’t there with me, that she can’t just go online and surprise me with some clothes that at least make me look like an animal that is cute while pregnant.
I am 14 again, buying bras without her. I am 17 again, trying to decide on a college. I am 24 again, picking out bridesmaid dresses with Matt. Except that I am 31, I am pregnant with my first child, and this, finally, I cannot do alone and without her.
“You’re NOT alone,” Julie says. And I know what she means. I have her, I have Andy and Elissa and my dad and Matt’s brother, wife, and parents. I have the people around whom I have chosen to expand our family, raise our child, here in Boston. I have Matt, Matt who has gone through these lonely-for-my-mom times with me as an adult and trooped alongside me through a surgical breast biopsy, to pick out bridesmaid dresses, to buy maternity clothes.
But I AM alone. I am alone because I have an abundance of love and support and I still feel lonely for my mom. I am alone because I wish
that it was different.
I hate that last paragraph. I hate that I sound so ungrateful, that I am taking all of this support for granted. I am not ungrateful, I don’t take it for granted. When I think about these people, when I think about how lucky I am, how lucky this baby is because it is already so loved, I feel like I am overflowing with good fortune. But I am overflowing with good fortune and my mom is still dead.
This is how it ends: I do get through this and I am not alone. I pick out a bassinet and a crib and a changing table, I ask if I can store it in a friend’s basement, and I hope he understands what this means to me; I tick through the list of offered hand-me-downs and I truly think, “thank god Cris saved all of this stuff!”; I avoid my brother’s request to buy me something; I buy maternity clothes that don’t make me look like an orka; I find bras that fit.
And if all goes well, in 21 weeks we bring home a live and squirming bean who is so loved that it brings some people to tears to hold him for the first time, who has her grandmother’s cheeks or her uncle’s mouth. I bring home a baby that my mother will never meet, but who I believe she will know somehow, through and through. I become the mother that my mother will never meet. And sometimes I will miss her like I miss her right now, through and through.