But Mother’s Day is tough. Very tough.
Nine years ago, my mother died.
May 19, 2001.
A few months before 9/11. It became a year that everyone remembers for the terrorist attacks. I remember it as the year my father died, and, exactly two months later, my mother.
Every year on this day, a melancholy descends on me.
I don’t feel like doing much of anything save look at her photographs and her handwriting — I still have all the letters she wrote me from Kolkata. I even have her clothes, fresh from her closet in our flat. Even after all these years, they smell like her, though the scents are fading and I desperately don’t want them to. I put a few of her things in a plastic bag to prevent her from escaping.
I miss her smile. I miss her hand on my forehead. I miss her kiss and her embrace.
I miss everything about her.
She had a massive stroke in 1982. She was only 51 then. But she lived another 19 years, bound to a wheelchair, half her brain cells gone. Toward the end of her life, we exchanged roles. I became a mother, taking care of her, making all the important decisions in her life. She was almost like my child, completely dependent on me.
And yet, every time I gazed into her eyes, I thought of the immense sacrifices she made — as a young Bengali woman who came to these shores not speaking English, not knowing how to operate an electric stove or drive a car. She endured the death of her own parents from afar, endured her loneliness. Never shared her pain with us; only her joy.
Only later, only after she died and it was too late to talk, did I discover her journals and writings. Only then did I realize how incredibly steely my mother was.
Only now do I appreciate her fully. Now that she is gone. Forever.
And a deep void fills my life. Today on the anniversary of her death. And every day that I live.