mother's day

Mother’s Day has often been bittersweet for me—not a day to necessarily celebrate—what with Calvin’s autism, chronic epilepsy and other disabilities, and my own mother’s slow decay from Alzheimer’s years ago. Yesterday, as usual, I experienced a mix of emotions thinking back to the day when Michael and I learned that our unborn child had something terribly wrong with his brain, that for some unknown reason—despite the healthiest of pregnancies—our baby was missing a significant amount of white matter in his brain. Those days leading up to and including his birth were some of the most difficult days of my life, and remembering them is painful.

As a child, on Mother’s Day, my siblings and I gave my mom funny cards, some store-bought, some not. My brother Steve once made her a wooden plaque in the shape of a shield sprayed green and gold with the words BEST MOM AWARD. She hung it on the kitchen wall for years. In junior high school shop class, I made Mom a groovy plastic flame-colored envelope opener and a wooden chopping block. On Mother's Day she often got flowers and plants and, later, Mylar balloons. Sometimes I drew her cards with birds and hearts and flowers that said, “I love you Mom.”

Every Mother’s Day, I know that none of these kinds of things will be mine.

But the first sound I heard yesterday morning was Calvin calling, “Uh-uh”—his way of saying “Mama.” I went to him, removed the netted canopy from his bed, unlatched and lowered the safety panel and crawled in with him. A huge smile spread across his face as he began showering me with hugs and kisses.

Mother's Day cards and gifts will fade or be thrown out, get packed up into some anonymous cardboard box in the basement or be lost in moves. Flowers will wither, balloons will deflate or sail away, plants will one day die. But these memories I have cuddling with Calvin will last forever, if not always in my mind, then in my heart, in the marrow of my bones, and mean more than any bit of material evidence I could glean from a son on Mother’s Day.

At least that is what I tell myself.