Like yesterday. Donny wanted to go shopping at Kohls. I didn't really need anything but went anyway. He went his way, I went mine. Picked a few things out to try on and headed to the dressing room.
While I was trying on the few things in my cart, I could hear a mom and her daughter. "What do you think?" "How does this look?" "What about this color?" "Your dad said we could only spend so much..."
And here I was. Wondering if the color looked right. Wondering how it looked. Wondering what Melissa would think.
The last time I went shopping with Melissa was my last birthday with her. August of 2008. I was looking at jewelry and was trying on a ring. Costume jewelry, but it kind of looked like an engagement ring. She said "Do you want it for your birthday?" "Sure!" So she bought it for me, and said "you know this means we're engaged now!" And I was ok with that. We laughed...it was SO nice to have my daughter with me...and Mere was with us too. I also remember that she wasn't feeling well. Even then. I knew something was wrong. As we walked around the store, she kept sitting down. She was getting tired easily. I think even then her breathing wasn't right. Damn cancer.
At the Compassionate Friends conference in Dallas in July, they had a session Thursday night for "Daughterless Mothers". I had someone recently tell me they were a daughterless mother too, because they didn't have a daughter. Didn't "birth" a daughter. There is a big difference. Never having had a daughter, you unfortunately wouldn't know that kind of relationship. So there's no reason to compare. There were 12 mothers in this session. Several lost their daughters to "no known cause". One lost her daughter, her only child. Another mom accidentally ran over her daughter...she still has 3 sons. It was an interesting sharing session. We all got to tell our stories and our experiences since we lost our only daughters. Somehow it is helpful knowing you are not alone.
However, every daughter has had a mother. Not all have good relationships, but most of my friends do (or did) have good relationships with their mothers. In fact, the bereaved mothers I know who have lost their mothers? For some of them, that loss was the next greatest loss. Their mother was their best friend. When they became adults they became friends too. They went shopping together, lunches. Dinners. Advice. Someone who loved you unconditionally.
My mom loved me unconditionally. I know that. But I never had any of that other mother/daughter stuff. After my brother Steve died, my mom changed. It was right about the time my mom and I were becoming friends. She was lost in a world of grief. I never understood that. She didn't go shopping with me for my wedding dress. She didn't help with my wedding planning. She would send my dad with me if I needed help. Even years later, I would ask my mom if she wanted to go shopping or go to lunch. Always "no". Not until she had dementia and I took her to get her nails done once, did we go to lunch together. She was a prisoner in my car. I just told her "we're going to lunch." She couldn't say no.
I never understood, but I KNEW that I wanted a relationship with my daughter that I never had with my own mom. And we did. Shopping together. I'd driving to Cincinnati to meet her for lunch when she was working at UC. She invited me to do things with her friends.
Then I lost her. And I understood why my mom did what she did. She couldn't focus. She was grieving. And when she could focus, it went to my sister Sue who needed her. Sue and Mom had that relationship that I wanted. But I had Donny. And I guess it was too overwhelming for my mom to focus on more than one of us. I understand that now.
So when I lost my mom, I didn't feel that great sense of loss that a lot of my friends feel when their mom's die. I loved my mom and I know she loved me. But the depth of your relationship has a lot to do with how you grieve that loss. My life was pretty much the same after my mom died.
But Melissa? The depth of our relationship was eternal. I will never stop missing her. And little things like hearing a mom and daughter in a dressing room bring the emotions to the surface.
It's the same way at Christmas time. I used to love shopping. Now all I see in the malls are mothers and daughters laughing and loving and enjoying each others company.
I don't even know how to dress myself anymore. Melissa was not the fashion expert, but she knew what was in style (even if she didn't wear it!) and she would tell me if what I was wearing was ok. Even if it wasn't verbally...she had this look that told me. Sometimes just a roll of her eyes. How I miss that...
This rant is not to lessen the relationship that I have with my son. If you have a son(s), then you know that those relationships are different. I have a great relationship with Nick. But he has his wife. And her family now. It's just different.
I am blessed that I have a wonderful husband who knows exactly what I am feeling when it comes to Melissa. He is right there too. He misses her like I miss her.
I have a great son and daughter in law. And grandsons. I NEVER forget that.
I will NEVER forget my daughter and I will forever miss what I had with her. I want her back. I want my old life back.
But I work every day to enjoy what I do have. My husband, son, grandsons. Great friends.
Some days just bring it all back to me. And I have to get through those days too.
And of course, I can never end a post without pictures of Andrew & Max. She would be so in love with them. They love their Aunt Fort. I wish they could have known her like we do.
Max & Andrew at the Dragons game
Andrew. Farmer boy.
Racing on the big slide.
Love you Melissa. Missing you terribly today. And always.