In a conversation with an acquaintance who had also lost a spouse way to early, it was mentioned that widows often remember very little, if anything, from the first year. I’ve found that to be both true and false. Some things I remember with laser focus. The ER. Crying when I went the first time to try to pick out a headstone. Watching my son at his father’s grave. Those are burned into my memory and my soul.
But other things, well…I don’t remember at all. Mother’s Day is one of them. Did I buy gifts or cards for the moms in my life? Did my kids try to make the day amazing for me? Probably, but sadly, that whole time is forgotten for me. Grief does that sometimes. Just one more way death steals from us.
Vance always bought sappy cards for holidays. After he died, I found a pile of Mother’s Day cards that he’d bought but never sent. That was typical Vance. Follow through was sometimes hard, but he always had great intentions and a whole lot of love.
I’m more a humorous card kinda gal myself. There were a lot of things like that with us, where we were complete opposites. Sometimes that meant we complimented each other well, others meant that we butted heads. But I regress.
This year I went to buy a Mother’s Day card for Vance’s mom, who lives in a different state. There were all kinds of cards. Mom. Mother. Grandma. Even sister. But I couldn’t find a single one made for a mother-in-law. Much less one that was for a mother-in-law that no longer has her son.
I picked up card after card, but none of them were right. I love her but she’s not my mom. She’s Vance’s. Thinking about that brought up all kinds of emotions and thoughts. Sadness. There are other people struggling with this loss. Big days are hard, not just for me. Guilt. I haven’t done enough to help others with this. Fear. My kids only have a mom now. Is that enough? How can I ever be enough to compensate for that?
As I stood there, I almost collapsed in that card aisle. Again. I just felt so weak and wanted to curl into a fetal position on the floor and wail until the hurt went away. Honestly, you would be surprised at how often that happens. There’s something about shopping that is just ridiculously hard when you’re grieving. Maybe it’s the plethora of products. Surround yourself with enough things and eventually one of them triggers a memory. Who knew?
I finally found a card that wasn’t perfect but would do. I wrote a private note that I hope conveyed my feelings better than the actual card. Hopefully next year will be easier and Hallmark will make a more inclusive line of cards.