Blue dawn

Dark sunrise

I woke this morning to the dark.

“Woke” is a bit inaccurate, since it felt like I was awake more than asleep last night. Thinking. Those thoughts.

Five years since my mother died. Five years since that dreadful phone call from my father. Five years since I let that howl escape my throat.

In many ways, I feel that span of time as a whirl, the way a lot of us feel time: was that last week, last year, or ten years ago?

Tree, cloud, moon, star

But in other ways, I feel each minute. Each lost minute. I get a little weepy. And angry.

I see a gray-haired woman pushing her shopping cart at the grocery store and I wonder what she would have been like at 70, or 80, or even beyond.

I read about a friend going holiday shopping with her mother, or taking her mother out to lunch on her birthday, and I feel resentful.

I read a book she would have loved and know I just have to send it to her, and I feel surprised when I realize that I can’t.

I see women with their granddaughters, and I feel a longing.

Don’t even talk to me about Mother’s Day.

At 42, I was just learning to be a mother, and finally getting to know my own. We weren’t close when I was growing up. We didn’t have the typical mother-daughter relationship. That only began to grow later, when I was out of college and on my own. We crept closer over the years. We were just starting to figure it out.

I feel cheated.

If I let myself, I can travel quite far down that twisty bumpy road. But it’s a dead end.

I had, and have, a lot more than many people.

Who escapes this life without loss and grief? Is there anyone who doesn’t feel a bit cheated, at least in some way?

I got up this morning and it was dark, and then I saw that crescent moon hiding behind the maple branches.

Striped crescent

I went outside in the dark, no jacket, no socks, no gloves. My fingers were numbing and I was clicking the shutter button over and over, trying to steady myself, trying not to breathe.


There’s that moon. She’s gorgeous as ever. She’s out there in the dark, dark night, and in the bluing morning. She’s there, whirling in space by our side, even during the daylight when we can’t see her. She’s there when we search her out, round and full, slim and crescent, new and invisible, tugging at the water in us, making waves.

It’s going to be okay. It’s good to note these anniversaries. It’s good to cry, and then laugh. It’s good to feel loss when it means you’ve had something to lose.

It’s good to go out in the morning, breathe the cold air, be alive, and be part of the dawn.



  1. Kayte says:

    These are beautiful photos and a beautiful tribute to your mother. I see her in Hyla, that must bring you great joy! Hugs for you today and every day…it’s what she would have wanted for you, to feel hugged and loved. You are. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

    1. Rebecca says:

      A hundred thanks, Kayte. xoxo

  2. Ann L Cohen says:

    You brought back so many memories of that day. The pain, frustration, angry, just the sadness of losing such a wonderful sister and friend. I wish we could be closer and we could just hang out and share all the good things about your Mum. I sure do miss her.

    1. Rebecca says:

      Thank you Ann. I know you and Mel, and the rest of the family feel it intensely, too.

  3. cindy says:

    From the darkness to the light, your photos and text said it all. Like you, I felt like I was creeping to a better relationship with my mother when we were separated. But I view that change as a gift and something that remains despite her physical absence from my life. How lucky we are that things did improve with our mothers. To feel loss always means to have known significant love. That love continues is evident from your strong need to honor your mother and to reflect on all that she was. The continuity of the life cycle, just like the lunar cycle, carries with it the power of both renewal and affirmance of all that we are. And we clearly owe a lot of who we are to our mothers.

    1. Rebecca says:

      I’m so grateful for your understanding and friendship, Cindy!

  4. nancyo says:

    Oh, Rebecca, this is so beautiful. It seems that the more we care the bigger is the hole of loss. But filling it with memories over time helps it to not be as treacherous. You’ve done well by your mother.

  5. teaandscones says:

    She is always with you. And so are the memories – year after year.

  6. sometomato says:

    Thank you, Rebecca. That was beautifully said and a very true statement about the progression of grief after loss. Hugs to you…

  7. Andi says:

    Love love love this – you have such a beautiful perspective.

  8. Di says:

    *lots of hugs* I am so glad that we’ve become friends, Rebecca, and I love your writing. The 5th anniversary of my mom’s death is coming up in March, and I feel so many of the same things. Feeling weepy and angry, and cheated. In some ways it feels like she’s been gone forever, and in some ways it feels like it was just yesterday. *sigh*

    1. Rebecca says:

      Oh, Di… hugs back! I’m so glad we’re friends, too.

  9. Deb South says:

    I lost my mother 30 years ago when she was just 58 years old. It still hurts. And I agree, I don’t even recognize Mother’s Day. It has no meaning for me.

    1. Rebecca says:

      I’m so sorry to hear it, Deb. The sadness and loss does lessen, but it never goes away, does it?

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