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Monument for Mom

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Today I began with reading an article called "The Unmothered" in the New Yorker, and a subsequent bout of tears followed. It is an annual cycle of grief and remembrance. Five years ago, we celebrated her last mother's day. I had never previously thought much about this meaningless, commercial holiday. At most, I obliged its customs and bought some flowers and a card and hugged her tight and said the customary 'I love you.' But five years ago, she knew it would be her last and so did I. And suddenly, this annual occurrence took on enormous meaning for our household. Her impending death, it was an unspeakable truth. And our denial was almost criminal. We were accomplices together one last time in our willing suspension of disbelief, overcompensating in each facet of the celebration. We decorated the house with balloons, pastel crepe streamers and handmade cards. I even directed a play for mother's day featuring the neighbor's kids in our living room. Anyone who has lost a mother to cancer, especially so young in their life, knows that you start mourning their death even before it happens. A preemptive grief descends upon you seemingly to prepare you for the void that will soon come. But nothing can truly prepare you for that feeling of being unmothered.

The monument I created for her, or for the unmothered, was not made by the positive images we were given in our stencil box. It was created from the negative, the discarded pieces of the useful components of a stencil. It is to remember what once was and can never be again. The unmothered often find solace in tracing the contours of this very emptiness to feel her through the 'lack of.' By nurturing the pain and grief year after year on mother's day, her birthday, their anniversary, the day she died, we keep telling ourselves that she is still present within us. To not cry, to not be broken and empty, that would be to forget and that would be unforgivable.

This is a monument to holding on to our beloved void.

- HG