Already this year, I’ve had three friends lose their mothers.  I’ve been a terrible friend at this time.  And a pretty piss-poor writer. Struck dumb by the extent of their grief, by the depth of the pain, by the chasm of their loss, I haven’t offered condolences (they’d be weak and generic anyhow), and haven’t known how to respond in any way other than awkward, unnatural embraces and sad-faced frowns and nods. I couldn’t even stop long enough to consider what their loss meant, because the prospect frightened me so much. So I changed topics, told inappropriate jokes, worked to distract rather than comfort.

I’m trying to fix that now.

The loss of a mother.

It is the loss of a core.  The axis around which your world spins. The central structure without which no part of you can stand.  She is the one who made you. And everything that you have become and could yet be.  She is the one who made possible happen.

And now?

How does one cope with the sudden non-existence of all of your reasons for existence?

How can the day begin with no sun in the sky?

As we approach Mother’s Day, the loss of a mother becomes palpable.  The warmer air carrying the scent of lilacs, reminding us all of soft, lightly powdered skin, smushy bellies against which we could lie, feeling the gentle rise and fall of her breaths.  Those soft, soft mother bellies. The skin, never quite recovering from having held us for nine months. Stretched, lined, thin to the touch, yet thicker, stronger, tougher than we’d ever be able to guess. Perhaps tougher than she ever knew.  Bellies that hung like deflated empty sacks, yet somehow signifying her incredible fullness. Signifying that, by splitting apart to make you, she discovered a way to be whole.

Remember, dear friends, your mother’s heartbeat was the first sound you heard. Her rhythms are part of you, the most recognizable part.  The part that you have carried since life before life. You haven’t lost that.  You never could. It is the beat that played while you grew your mind, your heart. It made the small spark of your young soul dance. It made you dance. Your earliest, truest movements happened in response to her heart. A memory before memory.

The rhythms of her heartbeat are a song that you can still hum, to which you still move in graceful steps. You have not lost that. You never could.

It is the song of love.

The purest love.

The cleanest love.

The most primal and ferocious.

The most innocent.

And unending.


Grieve for her, dear friends. Don’t let anyone rush you through this time of real, deep grief.

But then, when you feel ready, try to remember that first song she sang to you. The soundtrack to your becoming.

And dance.


This is dedicated to you, Kim. I love you.