Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

Okay, so I know it's been a hot minute since I posted, I didn't post at the year mark, or for Sarah's birthday like I meant to. I took notes, and I will get to those posts soon, maybe today, maybe not, but those days were a bit more difficult for me than I realized they would be. I'm so stupid, I don't know why I thought this year would be easier; I guess I thought that since this year wouldn't be my first Mother's Day without her, that this year wouldn't be so bad. I was right, and I was wrong. The cold reality is that this will probably never get any easier, only slightly more bearable as the callous hardens. There is a part of me that wants that to happen and a part that doesn't. This empty space where my daughter used to be is all that's left. There is that part that wants to celebrate today because I will always be her mother, but then there is that part that says you can't be a mother if you don't have a child, and I don't have one anymore. I did no mothering this year. I did the occasional diapering and bottle-feeding for my nieces, gave my siblings the occasional advice, but then I got to go home and be selfish, lay about, do my nails, read, do all the things good moms don't have time for. I'm not a mom anymore, no one depends on me for love or guidance, no one needs to me to teach them how to be in the world. The things I do or don't do are not going to fuck anyone up anymore. I'm just me. And not even the best version of that anymore.

I got to thinking yesterday about the five Mother's Days that I did get to spend with Sarah, and how out of those, I can only really recall one, the best one. The first one, she was five months old. My ex-stepchildren did their best to ruin it for me, as they always did. In all that time, all those years I spent trying to raise them properly, never once did they give me the appreciation I deserved on Mother's Day. I wasn't enough, because I didn't give birth to them. That year, I had had enough. Long story short, I got fed up, told them all I didn't want them to come with us to my aunt's if this is the way they were going to behave, and I focused on my daughter, trying to salvage what I could of the day with my family.

The second one, Sarah was seventeen months old, just three months before she was diagnosed. I guess because I lost my shit the year before, Mike and the kids went out of their way to give me a decent Mother's Day for once. They made me breakfast, he bought cards and they signed them. They dug deep to write me heartfelt messages.He bought me flowers and balloons, and they all made a big deal about it. I got up, read my cards, he taught Sarah to say, "Happy Mother's Day, Momma!" Then she stole my bacon and my balloon and left me with the remains of my breakfast! Later, we went out to play in the yard, and I took so many pictures, and to this day, they are among my favorite pictures of her. She chased ants. She played with her shadow. She was an adorable toddler, my adorable toddler, and adore her I did. I was so grateful to be her mom. I still am.

I think this may have been our first Mother-daughter selfie, before it was a thing...still one of my favorites

This weekend was bound to be a difficult one. I don't know why, as I said, I thought somehow it would be just a little easier. But somehow, this year so far has been heavier. Perhaps because the distance is greater. This year will be completely devoid of her. It has been a year since I have heard her voice, or felt her skin, hefted her weight or felt the sharp pain of her elbows and knees as she climbed all over me. Knowing that, I think my mom decided that we should celebrate as Sarah would have wanted us to. We have eaten out every night since Thursday, hitting all of our favorite spots: Knott's, Black Angus (it has become a ritual with my mom and me this past year) and Salsa. We went to See's Candies and spent ridiculous amounts of money on chocolate. Then, on a whim, we decided to get  my grandma a Nook for Mother's Day (her hands are starting to hurt, so that limits her already-limited activities. We figured the nook would be easier for her to read and do the word searches she likes to do, plus she could watch Netflix) so we took a trip to Barnes and Noble.

I realized upon entering the Barnes and Noble (which I don't think I have since Sarah died, that being one of our favorite places) that while the Nook is ever so convenient for having literally thousands of books at my fingertips and being able to download new ones at the touch of a button, the one thing the Nook will never have is that smell. The smell of fresh ink on paper can never be rivaled. It is one of my favorite smells in the world. Not so much, Sarah's, but I think over time she would have come to appreciate it. She loved the bookstore in spite of the smell. My mom went to locate a sales person to procure the Nook, and I immediately found two books I wanted at a table right in front of the door. My mom sidled up next to me and said that she had meant to give me a Barnes and Noble gift card for Mother's Day, and asked if I would rather have the gift card or the books right away. I told her it made no difference, and I might as well get the books now. She said I had fifty bucks! lol

I smiled to myself, two hardcovers in hand, as I made my way through the other shelves. When I was a kid, my mother, single with two children and in law school, spent roughly $100 to $150 a week (yes, I said A WEEK) on books for me. I wasn't a fan of the library, because I had to give the books back, and I never wanted to part with them. Once you have read a book, it is a friend, and letting go, I guess, has never been my strong suit. I suppose, as spoiling your kids goes, there are worse things she could have bought. I found myself wondering often, usually as I spent about the same on books for my own kid, how she managed to spend that much A WEEK as a single mother. I spent that much a MONTH for Sarah, but she was way smaller, although a picture book is about $17 hardback and the paperback chapter books I read as a preteen are about $8. All in all, I guess I came to the conclusion that I had a great mom, and still do. My mom bought one book to my 3, (we also bought the newest Pigeon book for Sarah, because she loved them, and even after all this time, it just feels wrong not to), and the sum total was too ridiculous to mention. We did buy an electronic device, granted, but still.

Yesterday, Saturday, my mom, grandma and I went shopping for shoes because my mom heads up the ASB at her school, and she has to attend. I was also invited, (those kids love Sarah) and so I needed shoes, too. My mom bought me a pair of shoes I really didn't need but loved, I ended up ordering the shoes for prom online, and we ate at Hot Dog on a Stick, then went home to wait for my brother, who decided to come yesterday instead of today with Baby Ava. We don't get to see her too often, so it was an added treat. She doesn't know me too well, but within an hour I had her smiling and laughing. My brother took us to Salsa for dinner, and then my mom and I watched pay-per-view movies and had a "sleepover" as Sarah used to call it. This was something Sarah used to do with her often, get into her pajamas early, get some popcorn, fifteen of her favorite stuffed animals, and watch a movie in bed with my mom. My mom and I watched August:Osage County and Labor Day, or as I had deemed it at the end of the night, The Crazy Mom double feature! :D It was a good day.

Today, we are exhausted from our exertions and we are just hanging out. I am very proud of myself because I have only cried three times, so far. It's hard not to let the bitterness creep in, think of everything I lost, everything I was essentially robbed of. She should be here to steal my bacon. She should have been with us at the bookstore, at dinner (she loved restaurants). I should be able to celebrate with my daughter the way everyone else does. I shouldn't be in this limbo between motherhood and childlessness. But here I am. It is what it is. I can think about everything I lost, everything I will continue to miss out on with every passing year, or I can focus on what I had. Because if she's all I'll ever have, she was pretty fucking amazing. I told my mom as we passed through the children's section, she was such a great kid. Most kids have never been in a bookstore before, or are bored there. The library is even worse. But Sarah loved it there. I was able to share my love of literature with her, of language and poetry. How many parents can say that, especially with a child so young? Sarah loved to be read to. As she lay dying, she wanted my mom to read Madeline to her over and over again. She loved flowers, and all things pink and sparkly and beautiful. But she also had a soft spot for the ugly. All of the beautiful birds in the world, and her favorite was the pigeon. You know, the ones people call "flying rats"? Yeah, those.All of the beautiful flowers in creation, and she loved dandelions. Her favorite movies? Coraline and Nightmare Before Christmas. My kid loved life, all of it, the good and the bad. She embraced all of it. She found a way to be happy, a way to create the world the way she wanted it to be, wherever she was. She brought color and music and light with her wherever she went. One of my greatest comforts is to see how she still manages to influence the world around her, even in death. A year later, people still think of her. She is not forgotten.

This beautiful little creature barreled into my life and made me a momma. She made my life richer, fuller, better. She was a dream fulfilled. How could I not be grateful for that, today of all days? Even if I never get another chance at motherhood, the one I was given was wonderful, from start to finish.

Having a smooch...we loved each other so much! I'm glad we know that now that we have to be apart.

Sarah pulling me in for a hug. This was at the beginning of her treatment. She didn't have her fancy customized hospital gowns yet!

Thank you, Julie Messina, for encouraging us to take, and subsequently taking, this picture of the four generations of women in my family!From left to right, my mom, me, grandma, and Sarah

I believe this was my 32nd or 33rd birthday, Sarah, me and my momma

Me and Sarah on Triton's Carousel at California Adventure on her Make-a-Wish trip. Still one of my favorite pictures

Sarah wasn't sure how she felt about her glasses, even though she got Disney princess ones, so I shower her that Momma wears glasses, too. I took off my contacts and we took this picture for facebook, "So everyone can see how beautiful we are, Momma!" lol

Picture taken by Ember Rian photography, right before Sarah's transplant. She was getting tired, and wanted me to pick her up, so I did. She gave me a squeeze and I looked at the camera, and then the photographer snapped the photo.

Sarah's last Halloween, at CHOC. She was Pinkalicious. This was the only year I didn't make her costume myself, but I did make her "hair". Photobomb by Castles the Unicorn!

Happy Mother's Day!

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