For as long as I can remember, my mama told me to catch the stars. Every card she gave me for a Birthday or a Thinking of You or a Congratulations would have those words. They changed over the years from “Catch the stars” to “You’ve already caught a few”, always scrolled on the page in her pretty handwriting. And the words planted in me somewhere along the way, though I can’t say exactly when it must have happened, and every day I’ve been trying to pick up little stars, one by one, and put them in my basket to make her proud.
My mama is still alive and so I make no claims to know what it feels like to lose her, but I imagine it would feel like all my stars that I spent my life collecting just tumbling out and there being nothing I can do to hold them any longer. I envision myself reaching and scrambling and watching them just sift through my fingers. I hope that when the day comes and I have to face that, I won’t wait for all of the stars to fall. I hope that I will be able to lift those stars out of the basket, one by one, onto my shoulders, and resettle them back in the sky where they belong. If I can’t, I think I will falter under the weight.
Yann Martel wrote, “To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It is like losing – I’m sorry, I would rather not go on” (127-128).
To those who are facing Mother’s Day without their mother here on Earth, whether it is the first Mother’s Day in her absence, or one more year that still feels like you can hardly breath, you are not alone. There are many people who feel the same loss that you do. There are many people still trying to figure out how the stars fell so quickly, and if they will ever settle back the way they should.
Even when you can longer see your mother, she is still living through you, walking with you, and I like to believe, still loving you beyond death. A star is held together by its own gravity. A mother holds herself together, and so much more. A mother is everything. Or, as E.E. Cummings said, “Yours is the light by which my spirit’s born: – you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.”
A mom who has passed may not be able to tell you this Mother’s Day to catch the stars, but I believe she is putting them in your basket, one by one, to help make you whole until she can see you again.
“E.E. Cummings > Quotes > Quotable Quote.” goodreads, Goodreads, Inc., 2020, www.goodreads.com/quotes/452227-yours-is-the-light-by-which-my-spirit-s-born– .
Martel, Yann. Life of Pi: A Novel. New York: Harcourt, 2001. Print.