On April 11, 2001, I turned 30 years old. Lea and Charles put together a great ‘80s-themed birthday party for me. We had it in the house Lea and I had built seven months earlier—the house we still live in. Lea was two months’ pregnant with Nathan, but only God, her doctor, she, and I knew.
My mother came to the party. It was the first time she’d seen our new house. It was also the only time. Mom died nine days later. She was 53 years old.
I don’t quite know how old “old enough” is, but I’m certain 53 isn’t. A devastatingly early mother’s death is something unfortunate that I share with my dad, actually.
My relationship with Mom had never been perfect. Honestly, at one time it had gotten probably two-thirds of the way to downright crappy. You know what, though? By the time she died, we were both productively engaged in bridging those gaps. We were two good people who saw the world differently.
And I think understanding and believing that is part of why any residual acrimony faded as easily as it did. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep the bad stuff fueled. The good stuff kind of runs itself.
Of that good stuff, you know what sticks more than anything else? Moms get you.
Moms know what you like. Moms remember that you want mayonnaise to touch cheese and mustard to touch ham in your sandwich. Moms remember which side of which Christmas album is your favorite.
Moms connect with you. I’ve never laughed harder in my life than with my mother at 2 in the morning over a Scrabble board, and about things that would make absolutely no sense to anyone else. It’s almost supernatural. You have a language with your mother that no one else can even detect, much less decipher.
Moms empathize. When you have poison ivy, moms put dabs of calamine lotion on their noses so you won’t be the only one out in public with a pink spot on your face.
I’m amazed and blessed to see these things happening with Lea and our boys. I see the glances they exchange. I see the laughs they share. Dads, you’re really good at your thing too, but when your kids want their mama, you don’t have it and you can’t conjure it up.
There’s a reason she’s revered down through the ages. You can’t really measure the magnitude of motherhood, because it’s a force without equal. Motherhood stands alone.
You get exactly one mother. Her love is like no other love you will ever have. If you can hug yours this Mother’s Day, please do, and feel it with every bit of your being. Beyond this Mother’s Day, please, please take your mother into your arms whenever you can and tell her you love her and appreciate her.
I promise you will not believe how much you’ll miss her hug when you can’t have it anymore.
Happy Mother’s Day, Rocket City Moms. We appreciate you. We love you.