I am about to tuck and roll into my seventh Motherless Mother’s Day. The intense, cyclical crush of grief, longing, and loneliness is familiar and expected at this point, but, now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s magnified to the heavens.
My beloved mom and I have spent 2,320 days apart. On every one of those days, I have questioned if I am doing enough to keep the essence of her here, to keep her memory as vibrant as her signature fuchsia lipstick.
This was going to be the Mother’s Day I finally quieted my inner, grief-ridden Simon Cowell. I was equipped to squelch that harsh, critical, and unforgiving voice that reverberates in my brain, the one that makes me grateful thought bubbles are only an issue for cartoon characters.
I poured all that I have into this Mother’s Day. It was supposed to be the one that introduced my mom to the masses with the fulfillment of her unfinished life’s work.
You see, it was always my mom’s dream to write and publish a children’s book, though I don’t think she took the necessary steps to realize it. I have spent many nights during the past several years scouring through my mom’s half-written journals and miscellaneous scraps of paper filled with her perfectly passé cursive handwriting. I didn’t find any evidence of brainstorming or sketches.
I do vividly recall fleeting, late-night conversations when she would discuss her love of children’s books—she was an avid storyteller who delighted in reading to my son—and how much she would want to contribute to the genre. She just didn’t take that first step, so I became fixated on doing it for her.
At that point in time, shortly after her gut-wrenching death, I was trying to wade through the dense fog of fresh, crippling grief, which diminished by ability to come up with ideas. I spent countless hours thinking and researching possible children’s book angles at home, in nature, and at coffeehouses, but I was stuck for months, no matter the setting.
One day, my son finally gave me the winning idea for a children’s book by asking, “What was it like when I lived in your belly?” I devoted every minute of my free time to answering his question.
It took five years to bring When You Lived in My Belly to market. This Mother’s Day, I had events booked in New York City, Boston, and other cities planned to celebrate my beloved mom, to sprinkle her spirit everywhere.
COVID-19 had other plans.
Regardless, the distinct flair of Michele Ann Goldman will be remembered this Mother’s Day. We will remember when she used to sit across from my son on the kitchen floor, full of glee and animation, making up stories he delighted in for hours on end. We will remember the time she brought him to the flower store to plant a surprise garden for me. We will remember her singing Abba in the car, waving her hands to the beat–completely carefree, daring anyone to interrupt her tune.
We will remember the tender hugs, the encouraging conversations, the spontaneous day trips to the beach, the taste of her Apple Squares, the life lessons she taught by example. We will remember it all.
My mom may not resonate in the minds of many as I originally hoped, but she will live on in my mind and in my son’s mind. And there will be a piece of her on bookshelves when the world opens again.