Words of Encouragement #87: Under a Pink Full Moon

Words of Encouragement by Lauren Massarella: Under a Pink Full Moon

Under a Pink Full Moon

by Lauren Massarella, The Sister Project

This past April 19 marked three years since the day that my mom, June, passed away from FTD at the age of 67 under a pink full moon.

Something about this year’s anniversary was vastly different from years past. Just as my friends and family said would happen, my grief has changed immensely over time.

I will never forget the physical and emotional pain I suffered in the weeks and months immediately following my mom’s death. My back was incredibly sore. I went to sleep crying, and often woke up the same way. My eyes were swollen daily, and the lump in my throat felt permanent. I was always on the cusp of tears. That lasted for what felt like an eternity, but in reality, was more like a year.

On the first anniversary of June’s passing, I found myself parked outside of her home, wishing I could go in for just one more hug. As I sat there, I played repeatedly the song I listened to the day she died, crying until I had no tears left. I wanted to feel every ounce of the grief I felt on the day that she left us.

These days, my tears and heartbreak are different.

This year, on the anniversary of June’s death, I chose not to be stricken with grief. I’m not sure whether that’s truly a thing you can choose, but this plan felt aligned with my heart, so I went with it.

Each year I light the same candle that burned in my mom’s home on the evening she died, and I bring out the artificial rose that the funeral home staff placed on her pillow. This is the annual shrine I create to help me remember my loss and my love. Most importantly, I include a photo of June. This year I chose the Polaroid taken on the day I was born – the day June became a mom, again. This made sense, as I’m about to become a first-time mom later this summer.

This is my favorite photo of us, our very first taken together. I was June’s third baby, so she’s holding me like a pro, my dad looking on adoringly.

Not having my mom by my side during my infertility journey, and now throughout my pregnancy, has been truly heartbreaking. More than once I’ve found myself reaching for my phone to send her ultrasound photos, only to remember she’s not here to receive them.

Coincidentally, I realized that I had scheduled my maternity photo session on the anniversary of June’s death. This was not planned, but it felt like a happy accident. In a macabre, but also beautiful, way, I think it was the perfect way to memorialize my mother’s passing. It became an opportunity to take a day that I’ve associated with death, and use it to celebrate the life she gave me and the new life I’m bringing into the world.

During the photo session, I chose to wear her gold wedding band as a way to keep her near. In many of the photos that hand is resting on my belly – a perfect way to have her close to both me and my “baby bump.”

As difficult as it is to become a motherless mother, I’m choosing to find beauty where I can. This is the closest I have felt to June in the three years since she left us. Becoming a mother has created an otherworldly bond with the woman who brought me into this world, even though she’s no longer here.

And so, life continues to go on and flow forward. And as I grow and flow into motherhood, I will keep June ever present in my heart.

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