Whether you've lost your mom already or that experience looms in future years, Becky Baudouin offers hopeful perspective on how our mothers can continue to speak to us wherever we - and they - are.
By Becky Baudouin
I remember walking in circles inside a drug store. I came in because I wanted to buy a couple of sympathy cards for friends, then I avoided the card aisle altogether because I spotted the Mother's Day cards for the upcoming holiday. I was caught off guard, sobs welling up from my broken heart as I stood in the middle of the shampoo aisle trying to regain my composure.
My tears in the shampoo aisle came just before my first Mother's Day without my mom. People say that when you lose someone you love, the firsts are the hardest - the first birthday, the first Christmas, the first Mother's Day. The previous year I was terrified that my mom would not survive her recently diagnosed cancer, and that fear became my reality.
Most people who have lost a loved one have a story about falling apart at the grocery store. The details vary, and the trigger can be anything from a bag of potato chips to a beach hat, but the experiences are similar: you stop at the store to pick something up, you see something that reminds you of your loved one, and you are ambushed by feelings of deep grief and loss.
After finding a couple of blank cards near an end cap, I wandered over to the Easter candy aisle thinking that some chocolate might make me feel better. That's when I saw the marshmallow peeps. Those were Mom's favorite, and I always bought them for her at Easter. Now they make hollow milk chocolate eggs with a marshmallow peep inside; she would have loved that.
Before Mom died, she said things like, "I will always be a part of you" and "You'll always have me in your heart." As her daughter, I couldn't imagine then what it would be like to not have her here anymore. I couldn't imagine my life without her. But I am also a mom, and my relationships with my daughters help me understand what she meant when she said those things.
When our youngest daughter, Brenna, was in kindergarten, she went through a phase where she felt disproportionately guilty after she had done something wrong. She would say, "There is just this voice in my head telling me I'm bad, that I never do anything right, that I'm not good."
Finally, I thought to ask her whose voice it was in her head telling her those things. She looked at me like the answer was obvious. "You!" she said. I laughed and cringed at the same time. I had never said those things to her, but she had picked up on my frustrations and disappointments, and that translated into negative self-talk spoken in my voice. It was a good reminder that as a mom, my voice is powerful.
We joke about hearing our mothers' voices in our heads, and when we are younger that may feel more like a negative than a positive. But we are lucky if over time her voice of wisdom becomes a part of us.
In pretty much any given moment, if I quiet myself, I can imagine what my mom would say to me. I can still hear her voice and feel her love. Now I know what she was trying to tell me. Her love has become internalized inside my heart, and in a way that means she lives on in my thoughts. It means that she is always with me, in my heart.
A few days after my emotional trip to the drugstore, I drove back to that same store and walked directly to the Mother's Day card aisle. It was hard, but I felt a little bit stronger. I stood silently, reading card after card, patiently searching until I found the one that best articulated what my mom means to me. Then I made my way to the checkout, passing through the candy aisle to pick up a package of peeps, even though I don't care for them. And in my heart I heard my mom's laugh.
Becky Baudouin is an author and speaker who engages audiences with compelling stories and transforming truths. She loves to weave together personal stories with God's truth to encourage and equip others who are walking through the ups and downs of everyday life. Becky is the author of Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and at beckybaudouin.com.
Adapted with permission from Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy by Becky Baudouin, Kregel Publications, 2017.