Just a few days after my mom died my oldest sister handed me a book as we stood in my mother's quiet kitchen. I reached out for it, saw the title, and instantly retracted my hand. It was a reflex move. The book had large letters across the front that read, "Motherless Daughters". My brain was not ready to accept that I fit in the category so my hand would not accept the book.
Eventually I did hold it in my hands. After my sister sighed and said, "I think it might be cheaper than therapy..."
She knew we were in for a long road ahead. The five of us ranged in age from 18 to 27 and never dreamed when we celebrated mom's fiftieth birthday that she would never see 51. It happened almost 14 years ago and it has changed us all.
I have read the Motherless Daughters book nearly every year since then. It always makes me cry and usually makes me weep. But it is therapeutic and I can't help but think it is about as effective as therapy. A good cry is very healing.
There are thankfully a few things in the book I didn't have to relate to. I didn't lose my mom when I was a child. I know how deeply it pierced me as an early adult, I can't imagine how awful it would be to lose a mother before you've left her nest.
There was a story in the book about a woman who did survive losing her mom when she was in elementary school. Her father, also devastated by the loss, tried his best but could never catch on to the mom things a young girl needs. Stuff as simple as bringing things to school.
All moms know that it is common for teachers to send home notes requesting items. "Please bring three apples on Tuesday, we'll be making apple cider." or "Everyone needs to bring in three marbles for a game we will be playing on Friday."
This woman spent her elementary school years feeling left out. Her dad never understood the importance of actually sending in the requested items. She was left to beg or borrow to be able to participate.
So now I think of that when I get notes home from school. I don't know the life stories of the kids in my son's first grade class, but there may be a left out-er in his midst. Today they were supposed to bring in a smooth rock, so they could make pet rocks at craft time. I had him take in three, "just in case".
I told him to give the extras to his teacher and if anyone had forgotten theirs, they would be covered. Just a way to look out for each other in this big (sometimes cold) world.
He diligently gathered, then washed and dried, his rock collection. They were tucked in his coat pocket as he left for the bus.
And I got a warm feeling in my heart as we shared the kitchen last night, him working on rocks, me cutting up peppers and onions for dinner. When I told him why I wanted him to take extra he tilted his head and grinned. Then he said the words I know would assure my mom that she taught me well.
"Wow mom...,' he said, 'you always think nice."