Feb. 16 started out weird. A series of events led me to post on an online moms board that morning: “Could I be pregnant?”
I was completely thrown. Surprised, but excited. Then I noticed I had a missed call from my sister. She never calls me at work, always texts. So I called her right back.
“Are you sitting down?”
“Yes.” I knew there was bad news coming, but not what came next.
“It’s Mama. She’s gone.”
I can’t remember what I said out loud. I think I screamed.
What? What do you mean, gone? No! No!
We’d heard she had cancer a few weeks earlier. But the doctor said it was “very treatable,” so I hadn’t been too worried. She couldn’t be gone.
One of my best friends works two cubes down. She heard me and rushed over. I was in shock.
The next two weeks were a blur. Flying home to Michigan. Reconnecting with family. Mourning with my sister. Planning the funeral. Stuffing our faces with comfort food.
And then there was the pregnancy.
I wanted so badly to talk to my mom about it. I wasn’t expecting it, but I wanted it, and I was scared of losing it.
My mom was the first person I called when I found out I was pregnant the first time. And when I lost it. And then when I found out about Tommy. And again when I thought I was losing that pregnancy.
She was supportive every time. She suffered four miscarriages, so she knew just how painful they were. She assured me I would eventually have a healthy baby. And she was there the day Tommy was born (I flew her in two weeks before my due date to make sure of it).
She loved being a grandma. My husband and I wanted Tommy to know her, so we tried to make sure he saw her often.
She helped me learn how to be a mom, staying with us the first two months of Tommy’s life in 2014. She came back last April, when Tommy was 5 months old, and she visited one last time in November and got to see him take his first steps, get baptized and eat ice cream for the first time.
We went to Michigan to see her at Christmas. I knew with her cancer treatment she couldn’t come to KC, so I had booked us airline tickets for March, the day before she died.
After I returned home, I had some testing done. My fears were confirmed: I was losing the baby. It was hard to deal with without my mom to comfort me.
One person told me to think about what my mom would say to me. She would say she had several losses before she got pregnant with me. She would say she ended up with two wonderful daughters. And she would say if I wanted another baby, one would come my way.
I believe that.
I get sad thinking that she won’t be around to watch Tommy grow up or for me to even call and ask, “What was I like I when I was 2?” or “How old was I when I lost my first tooth?” And then I think about words from another friend: That my mom will get to see him grow up, because she’ll be watching over us.
I believe that, too. My mom told me more than once that I was a good mom. I’ll navigate parenthood just fine.
Still, Mother’s Day will be rough. I’m taking Tommy to Michigan to spend the weekend with my sister.
Only she knows how blessed we were to have such an amazing mom, and only she knows how surreal and sad it will be to have Mother’s Day without her.
Our saving grace will be my son. He can make anyone smile, and it helps that he looks like my mom. When we get sad, we can take a look at his precious face and know that a piece of her lives on.
Last year on Mother’s Day I posted something on Facebook that I will probably post again on Sunday: “When my mom tells me I’m a good mother, I pretty much consider that the highest compliment ever paid. #loveher #bestmomever #happymothersday
To reach Pamela E. Spencer, send email to email@example.com.