Thirteen years ago I took the red-eye home from my friend Satie's wedding in Vegas. Alone. At first I wasn't sure if I was even going to go to the wedding. But when I figured out I could go and be back in forty eight hours, I decided to go. I really didn't want to miss one of my best friends get married. I also didn't want to miss my last Mother's Day with my mom.
The plane ride home was just so surreal. I left an awesome party surrounded by my best friends. It was so fun. And then I sat on a plane for nearly five hours. Alone. With my thoughts. The one place I hate to be.
It's a funny thing to rush home to someone who is alive. It's a hard thing to explain. At the time we weren't certain it was the last Mother's Day. My mom wasn't on hospice. She hadn't been given a death sentence. But deep down we knew. I remember people asking why are you leaving? The party is just getting started! It's too hard to say I have to be with my mom because this could be my last mother's day with a mother.
I felt like once I boarded that plane I was leaving my childhood behind. I would spend nearly five hours in limbo. When I landed in Chicago my adult life would begin. It was the first big decision I ever had to make on my own. Without my mom. The first of many.
She knew I was in Vegas. She wanted me to be there. She did not want me to come home early. Especially not because of her illness. I surprised her. And it was the best decision I have ever made.
It turned out it was my mom's last Mother's Day. She died that October. But when I look back on it now, none of it seems to matter. I can't even remember the actual day. I have no clue how we celebrated her that day. But for some reason, it always makes me so happy that I was there.
Every Mother's Day I get asked what I want. I have the same request year after year. Yet I never get it. All I want is to spend Mother's Day with my mom. Just one more time.
Yes you can buy me something. Make me something. Take me somewhere. But all I really want is my freaking mom to be here with me.
I want her to meet my kids. I want to have a drink with her. I want to tell her how much I love her and how I now understand how much she must have loved me.
I want to tell her I'm sorry for treating her exactly the way my six-year-old daughter treats me. Although now that I am a mom I know no apology is necessary.
I think of my mom every single time my daughter rolls her little brown eyes at me. I imagine my mom smiling somewhere. Clinking her beefeater martini glass with my dad with a Virginia Slim Menthol Light in hand. Loving every freaking second of it.
I want her here to hug me. To tell me she loves me. To smell her perfume again.
I want to celebrate just one Mother's Day with both of us as mothers. Every daughter should at least get that.
It has been thirteen years since I took the red-eye home from a wedding in Vegas to spend that last Mother's Day with my mom. And it's no easier today than that very first motherless Mother's Day.
Check out more of Eileen O'Connor's musings at No Wire Hangers, Ever