I keep telling my husband that this year is my 1st REAL Mother’s Day. Why?
Because last May, I wouldn’t have called myself a mother if anyone asked.
I didn’t feel like I had earned the title yet or put enough blood, sweat, and tears into parenthood.
My daughter was only a squishy little newborn. I still couldn’t believe the nurses allowed me to leave the hospital with her in the first place. Never mind, begin to think of myself as her mother.
But this year? I am undoubtedly a mother.
Everything I thought I knew about myself was burnt to ash in those early postpartum days. The heat from the flames forged me into something entirely new and utterly unrecognizable.
And this year, losing you stings more than it ever has before.
I’ve done so much growing since you left us. I wish that you could see, just for a moment, the woman I’ve become. You’d be so very proud.
When we lost you, it was the start of my last semester of undergrad.
I really thought back then that I had it all figured out. That I knew what my life would look like in a few years.
But, boy, was I dead wrong.
That relationship I thought I’d be in for the rest of my life? It self-destructed, spectacularly.
I know that if you were here to hear the news, you would have waited for the dust to settle before secretly sharing sighs of relief with my mom.
A year later, after I had sworn off dating and resigned to my fate, I met the man that would become my husband by sheer chance.
I like to think that you had something to do with it.
He’s everything you wanted for me, and he treats me the way you always told me I deserved. I wish you were here to see it.
Even though we weren’t married yet, you would have been so excited when I told you that I was pregnant.
I imagine you would have shed a few tears, just like grandpa, and told me how you knew that I’d make a great mother. Even though, at the time, I didn’t think I had the strength.
You had to miss out on watching my belly grow. And you never got to feel how my daughter’s kicks transformed from feather-soft flutters to forceful jabs that made my skin ripple.
I’ll admit, I’ve never been the praying type. But once I got admitted to L&D with preeclampsia, I prayed to you, over and over to protect my unborn daughter. My words were barely a whisper over the hum of all the medical equipment (and my husband’s soft snoring).
When she came home, I wish you were there to welcome us inside or to watch along in awe as that tiny sleepy newborn transformed into the ferocious toddler she is today. The toddler that fills my home with infectious giggles and decorates every surface she can reach with sticky strawberry fingerprints.
You would have adored every second you got to spend with her, and she would have loved you to pieces.
I think that’s why losing you stings more these days. Because it’s more apparent now than ever before that you’ll never get to follow me on my journey through motherhood.
You’ll never get to know the new me, forged through postpartum flames.
And you’ll never get the chance to meet my baby girl.
But I promise she’ll know you even if she never gets to see the contours of your face in real life.
I’ll tell her all of my stories, show her all the photographs we snuck (even though you always yelled at us not to take your picture), and make her sit through those home movies I used to hate watching growing up.
You’re missed so dearly, Grandma, and I will never allow you to be forgotten.
You will live on through my daughter and me. Maybe even through her own children someday.
But we’ll start a new tradition in your honor this year — to share your memory each and every Mother’s Day.
Happy Mother’s Day, Grandma.
With so much love, Your Granddaughter