At the age of seventeen I spent my last mother’s day with my mom. I can’t remember exactly what that day entailed; I had no reason to save it in my memory bank at the time. I’m assuming it went a lot like the previous years. We’d make breakfast in bed for her, buy her a card that was guaranteed to make her cry happy tears and spend a day lounging on the couch. She was never fond of making herself a big deal. She didn’t demand attention or expect praise for being something she’d always wanted to be, a mother. She always found ways to make days like today about us, she was fiercely devoted to her kids and loved like nothing I’ve ever felt before or since. My mother was my home. I lost that home the following year and along with it lost the chance to ever celebrate her as much as she deserved to be celebrated. I was young and at the time did not know what I had in her, she was my best friend. It’s been eight years since I’ve been able to spend a day lounging on the couch with her or watching her tear up over sappy cards. And the pain of that loss is still very much with me. The first couple of years were spent with hate and bitterness in my heart. I was jealous of anyone who was able to hand their mom flowers instead of laying them on a grave. I was jealous of anyone who had a reason to buy a card or make a phone call and hear a familiar voice. Really I was jealous of anyone who still had their mom. I avoided things that reminded me of her and refused to acknowledge this date. I didn’t like to let her memory surface for fear that I couldn’t handle the pain of her absence. I carried that bitterness and sadness with me for three years. Five years ago I moved to Billings hoping to be closer to my family and start to rebuild that sense of home I had lost.
I spent my first mother’s day here surrounded by my family, most importantly, my grandmother, aunt and cousin. Three women who are the spitting image of my mom. It was the first time I remember feeling good about this day. It was the first time her absence wasn’t a dead weight on my chest. I was surrounded by love and really that’s what this day is all about, showing love to those who have had an impact in my life. Each year brings new feelings, the sadness has weakened but it has never disappeared completely. I try to do something to remember her on this day. One year I released balloons at the top of Beartooth Pass with memories written on them, I write to her often and we drive to Harlow to spend time at her gravesite. I make sure I make her presence a priority not just on Mother's Day but every day now. I'm learning to focus on who is here with me now. I didn't say everything I needed to say to my mom, I didn't give her the love she deserved all the time. I learned from this loss that I don't want to make that mistake again with my loved ones. I am fortunate to have strong women in my life, the kind that make you face whatever you are feeling head on. As much I miss my mom and I speak my peace to her on this day every year I choose to dedicate this day to the women who guide me daily and whose love I could not live without. I make sure my grandmother knows I'm proud to be like her. I make sure my aunt knows that she is my rock and the glue that held my world together when it call crumbled eight years ago. And I make sure my cousin knows that her willingness to be my shoulder at any time has carried me through the roughest of times. This day is for you. To my mother, you were the greatest gift I ever had. You will always be my best friend.