For years, I hated Mother’s Day. My mother died when I was 22, and every year after that, when spring rolled around and the greeting cards reared their heads, I felt the resentment start to bubble up. “Tell mom how much she really means,” the signs at Hallmark implored me. It felt like a mean joke, just another reminder of all I’d lost.
My mother and I had always been close, but in the last few years before she died, after I’d gone off to college, we’d gotten closer. We emailed a few times a day, relating the little details of our lives. I knew what she’d had for lunch, how her best friend’s daughter was settling into her new apartment. She knew which book I was reading for my Russian novel class, which of my roommates was pissing me off. We had catchphrases, inside jokes we’d repeat in the emails and cards we sent each other.
The first Mother’s Day after she died, passing by some greeting cards in a store, I thought about buying her one. Maybe, I thought, I could start a ritual of getting her a card every year—a kind of “taking back” of the holiday. But then I thought about how I’d never actually send the cards, how they’d just sit in a drawer somewhere, the way the flowers I brought to her grave every year just lay there, wilting, until someone threw them out. And the inside jokes would never change—my mother and I were frozen in time, like the picture of us on my nightstand, taken just a couple of months before she died. I decided not to get her any cards. And I continued to hate Mother’s Day.