(Sorry, another post not about gluten free cooking. But it has a purpose.)
Today is May 9th. Twenty-eight years ago today, at high noon, I got married for the first time. I was a optimistic, wide-eyed idealist. We were happy, and we thought it would last forever. My parents -- not so much. But we had a sweet and simple wedding on the back patio of my parents' house in Atlanta, attended by 15 friends (and not attended by a lot of people I really meant to invite).
In those 28 years, we went through a lot, including the birth of Jeffrey and all the challenges that brought.. I have to give my ex credit for one thing -- he loved Jeffrey from conception and did the best he could to be a good Dad to him. Now -- well, he has other priorities and a "new" family. It's bittersweet.
I know that my wedding almost three years ago to Randy was nothing like that first one, and I'm glad. I made sure of that! When you marry the love of your life, it should be a spectacular day. I am happier now than I ever thought I would be, even with challenges with Jeffrey and my distance from Randy. It was just plain sweet.
Eleven years ago today was another bittersweet day. My Daddy, my ex, Jeffrey and I were gathered at Piedmont Hospital with my Aunt Jeannie and my cousins Pauline and Josie, who'd flown in from Connecticut. My mother was in a coma, dying of complications from heart bypass surgery she'd had just over two weeks earlier. We were discussing that it was our anniversary when the nurses paged us -- Mama had taken a turn for the worse. I remember saying to my Daddy, "she won't die on my anniversary, because she knows I'd never be able to celebrate it again if she did."
Instead, she held out til Sunday, May 11th -- Mother's Day. At 12:20 p.m., my Daddy, my ex and I did what was the hardest thing I've ever had to do -- we watched as the doctor who had just reconstructed her failing heart disconnected her life support. As he watched, he had tears running down his cheeks. I'll never forget the nurse saying gently..."OK, the machine is disconnected"......she paused and quietly added, "and now she's in heaven." It was only a couple of seconds. My mother died at 12:20 p.m. on Mother's Day. It was the single saddest moment of my life.
I have never been able to celebrate that day again.
Oh, Randy is sweet and gets stuff for me, but Jeffrey's Dad -- the one who should really do this -- doesn't see to it that I get anything for Mother's Day from Jeffrey. I usually get a card he makes at the center, which is enough. I want the acknowledgement that it's Mother's Day, but I just can't get excited. It's bittersweet.
Tomorrow, I will celebrate the graduation of many much-loved students and advisees. My friends Greg and Rosemary will be here tonight, and tomorrow they'll watch their younger daughter graduate, too. I love commencement, but it's bittersweet.
I hope you won't mind that I won't be blogging Sunday about the blessings of mothers...I just can't do it. I hope all you beautiful mothers (and sons with wives and mothers) have a beautiful day. I am thinking about my friend Julie who is awaiting baby no. 2, and about Jenn who has just had her first. I think about my buddy Karen and her little girl. And I am thinking about Kate and her love, who want a baby more than anything (and will have one in time, I know!) I am thinking about Cassandra who just found out she is having a little girl. And I'm thinking about Joy, who is moving into her first house this weekend....all good mothers, all of them. I know i have other friends and readers I've left out -- Stevie, I know you're a great son. And Melanie, you're the greatest Mom to the little Gluti and your son. And Alex...sweet friend. I think I remember your mentioning a child...but you're an Earth Mother in the finest sense...you care for our whole world. Much love and a happy day to all of you.
I know my Randy and I will both be bittersweet on Sunday. See, he lost his mother not long after we started dating in 2003, in a similar sad scenario. He was a good son who loved his mother. Ron, his brother. took care of his mother every day til she passed. And Reagan and Christne were there too, til the end. They will all be missing Jeanne Miller on Sunday, just as I ache for mine. I wish I'd known her -- I hope she'd approve of me. I know she was proud of her oldest son. At our wedding, we had a tribute to both of our mothers, who would have loved that day. We lit a candle and had photos there in their honor. Scott even mentioned it in the service -- that was bittersweet.
I leave you with the last picture taken of my mother and me. Jeffrey was just 14 in the picture -- a baby, compared to today. It was at my graduation from USM in December 1996. That night, after the ceremony, as we went to the restroom, she asked me, solemnly, "So now, you're a doctor?" I replied that yes, finally, I was. "Good," she said. "Now I can die."
Five months later she did.