A Greeting-Card-Shaped Hole

My mom killed herself exactly one week before Mother’s Day in 2009. While the situation was complicated to say the least, its hard not to think of that as some kind of fucked up parting shot. I’ll spare you the sordid history; but even with all the baggage, the truth is that life without a mother (even a shitty-one-who-kills-herself) kind of sucks sometimes. Especially around Mothers Day. Especially when it’s the anniversary of her suicide.

Screenshot of my father's email announcing my mother's death
Screenshot of my father’s email announcing my mother’s death

Every year I think next time it won’t be as bad — it’s been so long now. Sometimes I seem to have forgotten about it all together. And then one day, out of fucking nowhere, the floor falls out from under me and I’m just free falling in feelings. The week before Mother’s Day is the emotional equivalent of Navy SEAL Hell Week for me. To get through it I drink, eat, go to the gym, take on extra shifts at work, binge-watch anything I can click on and borderline obsess over my Neko Atsume fish count. I’ll basically do anything to keep me from being that pathetic freak on the train who’s eyes are welling up uncontrollably while she’s lugging home cat food and marvel superhero panty sets in doubled-up target bags just because she misses her shitty suicide mother (which may or may not have but totally did happen today).

The week before Mother’s Day is the emotional equivalent of Navy SEAL Hell Week for me.

I also hit up every single friend I have to see if they want to hang out, get a drink, watch a movie, just whatever — just anything.

Because omg, Mother’s Day is EVERYWHERE (consumer commercial capitalism for the win). And every time I see it, it just underlines the fact that I don’t have family — that I am essentially alone; not just in this crazy, amazing, cruel, wonderful, city, but in my life. My sister lives on the other side of the country and has her own fabulous, insane, manic artist thing happening. We love each other more than anything, but she’s multiple time zones and social spheres away and sometimes texts sit unreturned for a long time (from both sides). Less than a year after my mother’s death, my father married a woman 4 years older than me; he is now retired and living with his new family in the Philippines (which is awesome in a weird, um sure, ok kind of way). I love him because his is my father but we barely speak to each other.  He is as far away from me as possible physically, spiritually, emotionally, politically — pretty much any way you can be.

Selfie Family Portrait: Me and Squeaks 2016

So it’s just me (and the Squeakster). Don’t get me wrong — I love (and am incredibly proud of) the life that I have built for myself; but around Mother’s Day, without fail, I feel myself stretching at fraying seams I thought would hold this time.

It’s exactly the kind of thing I would talk to my mom about, because she would get me. But she’s not there.

That’s the thing about loosing someone — you may have practically forgotten them and then without thinking you make the mental motion to tell a story or ask advice or just share your life with this person who knows you on a level no one else ever can (for better or worse).

but around Mother’s Day, without fail, I feel myself stretching at fraying seams I thought would hold this time.

I can’t share anything with her — fears, doubts, triumphs.
I can’t tell her about my first NY apartment
or about breaking up and moving out and starting over
or about the trip I’m planning
or about that really great guy I met
or how I messed it up, of course, and then he broke my heart and what do I do?
or how I quit my horrible job
or how I feel shitty
or how I’m doing so well
or how I’m not sure what those test results mean and what was that thing you had surgery for when I was 7?
or how I read this really great book
or how I bought another houseplant
or how I killed another houseplant

Just…Mom things.

I have grown accustomed to this almost all of the time…except for my Hell Week; When gooey, gross commercialized meaningless Mother shit invades every corner of waking existence. When you can’t touch the internet without pop-ups telling you to talk to your mother, or buy her something, or make her happy. When even your most cynical friends will begrudgingly make some token effort, just because it’s that one day that everyone is supposed to do that one thing.

That one thing I can’t ever do again: make my shitty suicide mother smile.

Joyce Hall, March 1982 Holding me and smiling
Joyce Hall March 1982; Holding me, smiling


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