Sunday, May 11, 2008
I can't find my brown shirt. It's knit, with a v-neck and three-quarter length sleeves and has satin ribbons that tie in the back. I wear it over this brown lace camisole and I want to wear it to brunch on Sunday.
I search the laundry room, my bedroom closet, each drawer of the bureau, each shelf of the armoire, the greener cleaner bag. My husband's closet. I mutter to myself, I know I saw it recently. I remember seeing it... I start the circuit again, lift the same piles in the laundry room, start to flip through the same hangers in the closet. I pause, lost. I stand in the middle of the room, biting the pad of my thumb and I start to cry.
Sometimes a shirt is not just a shirt and sometimes a Saturday in May is not just any day.
I was so young when my mother died, I barely know anything different than her being gone. I grew up with the indisputable fact of her absence. There was always Aunt Ruth, sweet, mild, so-unlike-me Aunt Ruth. Aunt Ruth took care of me and my siblings as well as her own daughters. She was the loving figure to make the school crafts for, to buy flowers and cards for, to call with warm wishes and love.
It was only when I became a mother myself that Mother's Day began to turn into an emotional minefield. Last year the unpredictable grief knocked me for a loop. And today it turns me into a mess. Stricken. Doing laps in a fruitless search for a something I know I will not find.
"Randy," I call downstairs, sobbing. "Can you help me?"
He knows there is only so much he can do. He searches his own closet, his dry cleaning bag, to please me. He gently suggests what I already know, that I can choose something else to wear. He recognizes that I'm in deep and doesn't try to reason the hurt away.
I try to analyze and plan in the hot shower. I think I feel bad right now.
But I know Mia's dance recital is at 1:00. The kids in costume could cheer me up. Last year I fell apart the day before Mother's Day but fully enjoyed the Sunday, busy with brunch and dress up and presents. The world will return me to equilibrium soon.
I think This is the kind of pain a child should not have. It is proper I have not felt this before. I should be feeling this hurt now, now that I am a mother, now that I am getting stronger with motherhood.
I remember Ann Hudson's poem "Grief."
"...it is anchored in me/like a bone. It is growing,/tiny wings unfurling, blue flags."
I think If the pain keeps getting worse, will the joys keep getting deeper?
As hoped, the sensory slam and sugar rush of the recital was a helpful balm. A stageful of four year olds in sequined red dresses staring grim-faced out at the darkness while they randomly pat the floor with their shoes could be your seventh circle of hell. . . or not. Waves of adoring laughter from the full house greeted the little ones who corrected each other's arm positions, got lost in front of the closing curtain or burst into spontaneous little jigs during "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile."