Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bittersweet Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a little difficult in our house. In November 1997 my husband's mother, Marilyn, was killed in a crab fishing accident. My then-boyfriend (and now husband) was almost killed that night as well. That part of the story is another post entirely, but suffice it to say, Mother's Day brings up all sorts of mixed feelings for my husband.

Before we had kids of our own, he used to hate Mother's Day. He didn't want to hate it. He wanted to be able to enjoy the day with my mom, call his step mom and feel fine about wishing her a Happy Mother's Day. But the loss of his mother left him with a hole in his heart that has never fully healed. I know he hoped that having our own children would shift the focus of this day from his loss, to honoring me as the mother of his children. And it has eased the sting, to a certain degree. But there's always a bit of a cloud overhead on Mother's Day, try as he might to focus on me.

This year I forgot all that, in a way. The day started nice enough, but he seemed a little harsh with our son when he woke me up instead of letting me sleep in. And later, we got into a number of silly arguments. I felt like he was being strangely critical of everything I was doing and I felt like, hey buddy, it's my day, what's with the drama? There was something off about him, and although I thought about Marilyn this morning, I didn't make the connection that this day is always hard on him.

Driving up to have dinner with my mom, it hit me. He was driving, staring at the road, clearly lost in thought. I've known him for so long, I can read him well and I could tell he was feeling bad about something. His brow was slightly furrowed and his eyes were narrow. Suddenly I realized, it's Mother's Day and his mom is gone. Of course he's been snappy at me. Of course he's seemed off. He always does on this day, every year.

My heart softened and my selfishness dissipated. No longer was I stewing over the petty arguments we'd had earlier in the day. I don't know what it is like to not only lose your mother at 21, but to lose her under such horrible circumstances. It has been such a long road for him, to come to terms with what happened to him, and what happened to her. I can hardly blame him if Mother's Day is a sad reminder of what he lost. He tries not to let it color his mood, but it's difficult. He does his best, and I have to remember to appreciate his effort.

All I can do is what I've been doing since the night he almost died, the night he lost his mom. Love him through it.

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