Mother’s Day without a mom: year two


Keith Sandvall

Sandvall and her mom reading the paper at the kitchen table.

By Jada Sandvall, Lincoln High School

Another year has passed, and I still hate Mother’s Day. Although I have learned to appreciate all the hugs from my friends when I miss her most and the pieces of advice I have accumulated, something has yet to change my opinion. This day is still one I dread every waking second of my life. 

It has been 580 days since my mom passed away and frankly it is yet to “get easier” as everyone said it would. Only one year has passed since my last story, and it seems like plenty has changed. The spare bedroom closet that was once filled with her blouses and skirts is now home to my numerous sweatshirts. I occasionally spray her perfume on my clothes just for a sense of her presence. I find myself talking to the sky when things go wrong expecting an answer, but knowing that it is impossible. 

Looking back on my time with my mom, I think of the late-night talks we used to have in the summer. I would roll in from my late-night shifts at the local ice cream parlor, bleach-stained shirt and all, and I would spend hours talking to her about the future on my couch in the living room that now sits empty where her presence used to be. Whether it had been my 16th birthday or graduation, it is finally setting in that she will never actually get to experience any of those milestones. 

I attended my first Prom in April and although no one mentioned it, the gap where my mom should have been was hard to miss. I did not have anyone to tell me when my dress was wrinkled or that my hair was messy. All my friends’ moms stood taking pictures but under my smile, I hoped that at least one of them would turn out because, well, my mom was not there taking any pictures. 

As cliché as it sounds, life is like a book, and you are the author. I have learned through the passing of many “firsts” that you have to keep taking one step forward. Whether it be a small step or a huge jump, progress is progress. With grief especially, I have developed a new mindset that I did not have when I wrote my first version of this story last year. It is a mindset filled with growth. As the author of my own story, I have learned that you have to take life one page at a time and whether the plot be good or bad, the pages always keep turning. 

I have met several new people over the last year, but I no longer dread telling people that my mom is no longer with us. I have learned to take advantage of the opportunity it gives me to tell them about the wonderful, beautiful and intelligent woman who I look up to every day. I still could never put my gratitude for my mom into words, but opportunities like these remind me to keep her legacy alive.

Although Mother’s Day will never be one of my most favorite days, holidays like these are a constant reminder of the importance of appreciation. I said this last year and I still believe it is true: Life is short. Do not forget to tell your loved ones “I love you” or “I appreciate you.” Do not take time for granted. Love those around you and cherish the time you get to spend with them. 

This story was originally published on The Statesman on May 10, 2022.