When my mom met Peter for the first time, she was smitten. I am not sure what it was about him that she instantly fell in love with; maybe his shyness, maybe the way he looked at me with adoration in his eyes, maybe his quick wit, I am not sure. If you asked Mary Ann today, I am not even sure she could express it in words either. Either way mother-child love was in the air. Soon after Peter and I started dating it became clear to me that my mother, the women who raised me, my best friend, liked Peter more than she liked me. Inconceivable! How could she like him more than me? OK he made her laugh and he shared her love of horticulture and maybe he cherished the ground she walked on but still, how?
Many times in my relationship with Peter I would find them engaged in conversations that had noting to do with me. NOTHING. In the beginning I would grill Peter about why he found my mother, MY mother so interesting. He would just say he enjoyed talking to her. I was completely perplexed with their relationship. More importantly, perplexed how they could find other things to talk about besides me. I dismissed their relationship as a passing fad. I equated their relationship to someone finding something sparkly. The sparkle would leave and they would become bored with each other and I would get both of them back. That day never came.
The bond between them grew into so much more than I can ever describe. It grew into love at its purest from. Mary Ann and Peter loved each other beyond measure and I soon learned to step out of their way. When he had his stroke my mother carefully and courageously balanced taking care of me and silently worrying about him. She managed to complete tasks for me before I knew they needed to be done. She was my rock, often negating her own grief to help me through mine. It was not until much later that I realized just how much my mother had stifled her pain to give mine her full attention.
My mom and I were sitting somewhere, I can’t remember the exact place, when she burst out into tears. I knew this “break” was coming as I had seen the same behavior when my grandfather died. Mumbled sounds were coming out of her mouth and I could only distinguish every other sound but the few words I could make out sounded like…child, son, sad. Once she was able to compose herself she revealed to me that she felt like she had lost a child, but the kicker is she felt she couldn’t grieve Peter as a son because she hadn’t given birth to him. Now common logic dictates that just because you don’t give birth to a child doesn’t mean that you can’t love someone as your child. That thought never occurred to my mom. I gently pointed out to my mother that Peter’s mother didn’t even give birth to him and a lightbulb went off. My mom was finally free to grieve Peter the way she needed, unapologetically and ironically free from guilt, in which mothers specialize.
When I speak to people about my late husband the subject of my mother inevitably arises, the first question being; “how is your mom?” My answer is always this;
“Imagine losing your child and watching your other child go through the worst event in their life.” That’s exactly what she did, watch me go through hell AND lose her son. Not only did she watch me go through hell, she cared, she loved, she stroked, she supported, she cried but mostly she made me mimosas as needed. We feel the loss of Peter very differently, yet this loss has devastated us both. Life can be so ironic. I finally have my mommy back and my only wish for her right now is for her to have her son back.