Sitting on the shelf above my TV is the only photo of Zoe with her grandmother, my mom.
This season my heart is filled with sadness and longing. Six months after Zoe was born, my mom passed away. She had been in kidney failure for two years and relied on nightly dialysis to survive. One week before her birthday, she didn’t wake up.
I remember sitting on my couch cuddling Zoe, probably binging on Netflix, when my dad and husband showed up. My thoughts raced. How did they get here at the same time? What is going on? My husband, Matt, sat in front of me and broke the news. “Your mom is gone. Dawne, your mom passed away.” How could this be? I just called her yesterday and left a message. A message asking her for something, not how she is doing, or if she needs anything, I asked her for something. My last memory of my mom is me asking for something. I broke down.
My relationship with my mom wasn’t the best. We had our ups and a lot of downs. I am a child of divorce and that trauma affected our relationship. Through it all though, my mom was always there for me in her own way, and in whatever capacity she could be. If I asked, she would try her best to do it. Through fights, and struggles, she was my mom, she had my back, she was my person.
When I struggled with infertility my mom was there. When I found out I was pregnant, she was elated. When I was on my way to the hospital worrying about my health and Zoe’s life, my mom was the first person I called and she was with me day and night.
My pregnancy and Zoe’s birth changed our relationship forever. She was no longer just my mom. Our relationship was no longer about us, it was about Zoe. She talked to me about her experience with a sick baby in the NICU. She brought me food every day and even cooked for other families staying in the Ronald McDonald House. My mom’s love language was acts of service. One day I was really sick and sent to a different hospital for tests. My mom stayed with Zoe when I couldn’t. She talked to nurses and doctors, and made sure she kept Matt and I up to date as to what was happening when we couldn’t be there.
Becoming a mom, I really looked forward to seeing my mom as a grandma. Seeing her love Zoe unconditionally. A fresh start, a new chance at a healthy relationship. I looked forward to celebrating holidays as a family. My mom loved everything about holidays and I wanted that for Zoe.
Zoe’s first Christmas was my first Christmas without my mom. My first Christmas that didn’t feel like Christmas. Just another day. That was until my mom’s partner came for dinner with a gift for Zoe from my mom. A piece of Christmas was restored. My heart grew. My mom was with us.
This is my fourth year celebrating Mother’s Day without a mom, but she is still with us. Zoe talks about her often and asks lots of questions. We keep her spirit alive through our holiday celebrations, Christmas Eve PJs and her famous raspberry slice. Zoe knows her grandma loved her and she will forever live in our hearts.
This Mother’s Day, even if you can’t be with your moms, keep them in your heart and make sure they know you love them.