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Mother’s Day When Your Mom Has Passed


I’m going to start a club for people like us, people who’ve lost their moms. We will have our annual meeting on Mother’s Day, in the 2nd largest banquet room at a fancy hotel. If your mom is alive, you will turn right at the massive bouquet in the foyer and head towards the largest banquet hall. You will wear a nice dress. You will eat copious quantities of eggs, bacon, and lukewarm French toast from the buffet. You will drink a mimosa. You will pose in pictures with your multiple generations and then post those pictures all over social media, as you should.

If your mom has passed, you will hang a left at the bouquet. You will wear something that doesn’t require Spanx, or you might just wear sweats, because you don’t feel all that celebratory. You will enter the banquet hall marked with a whiteboard sign that says in generic lettering, MWP Annual Meeting. MWP stands for Moms Who’ve Passed (we will pronounce MWP Em-Wah-Pee since that sounds tribal and cool, because hey, we may be blue but we’re still tribal and cool).

Emwahpee will cost nothing to join, nothing but an empty space. If you’ve lost the person you called mom, you will be automatically in. No paperwork. The club handshake will be a hug. Sometimes that hug will last for hours.

Many Emwahpee members aren’t all that hungry on Mother’s Day, so the buffet line will include a selection of broth-based soups. However, we understand that everyone grieves differently and some of us may arrive with an increase in appetite or sweet tooth. For the hungry mourners, we will have a waiter standing by to fulfill orders from the room service menu (which we will pre-arrange to have a broad selection of desserts featuring chocolate).

Here is something great– the local businesses, you know the ones, they promote Mother’s Day starting at Easter? They will sponsor the soup line. That’s right, if you have to suffer through them pushing mom-related merchandise for a month that feels like a year, the least they can do is buy Emwahpee members a bowl of soup. So they do. At the end of the soup line, someone will hand you a fishbowl of wine. This will be sponsored by Uber. Then you will choose your side.

One side will be loud. It will have a karaoke station (walled in glass), a lounge singer who sings old favorites by request, and a comedian (because some Emwahpeans, me included, seek levity at dark times). When the comedian takes breaks, a renowned inspirational speaker will share enlightening tidbits. Then there will be the corner where someone leads a group howl. Because when you feel like howling about your mom, it is sometimes a comfort to look to the side and see someone else howling for the same reason. A connection, morose but effective.

The other side is for the quiet mourners. There will be a fireplace with cozy leather chairs and soft blankets and a selection of books on loss and volumes of poetry. There will be a coffee bar. There will be a therapist who leads half hour counseling sessions at a greatly discounted rate. There will be a psychic. A life coach.  A non-denominational pastor. Someone will lead yoga and meditation on the grassy terrace outside. And someone will lead a walking tour of the surrounding natural space.  All group leaders and counselors will be fellow Emwahpeans.

Emwahpee will have two rules:

Rule #1– You may not, ever, under any circumstances, bring someone to Emwahpee who has not lost their mom. Trust me, we understand why you want to. You want your loved ones to witness grief, felt by people other than yourself, in action. This way, they are sure to better understand what you do and why you do it. But no, they cannot come. Because even then, they won’t understand.  And do we really want them to? When we are our best selves, we know that we don’t wish grief on people so they can do a better job commiserating with us. They will know in their own time.  And while we are frustrated that they don’t get it when we need them to and don’t provide the support we want when we need it most, when it is their turn, we will invite them to Emwahpee and give them endless handshake hugs. Because Emwahpeans are like that. We know that only with their own loss will others truly understand.

Rule #2– You must participate in The Back Wall.

The Back Wall will consist of two sections, The Altar and The Give. The Altar is simple– it will be a large corkboard and a long shelf. On the corkboard you will pin a picture of your mom. Make sure it’s a copy because we can’t promise you will get it back. You can also pin a prayer. Faith is not a requirement at Emwahpee, but it is encouraged for its soothing and balm-like qualities.  In lieu of a picture or a prayer, you can put an item on the shelf that reminds you of your mom. It can be something as simple as a shell or a spool of thread, or as precious as a piece of her jewelry, but we encourage you to keep things of higher value at home, because we can’t guarantee the character of all Emwahpeans.  Are we all sad? Yes. Are we all good? Maybe, but probably not.

After you visit The Altar, you will head straight to The Give. The Give is where we will leave something like money, a clean blanket, a doll, or a pair of shoes. Emwahpee (a 501C3 non-profit organization with no overhead) will donate these items to charities specifically set up for orphans or children removed from their mothers. Emwahpeans know that there are people less fortunate than us– people who have never had a mom or were given a mom who was worse than not having one at all. So even though we may spend 99% of our time in the Howling Corner, we all must take a moment to concede that we are fortunate. We had a mom who loved us*, which is more than a lot of people can say. My mom and I didn’t always get along. Sometimes I was mystified by her choices and angered by her behavior.  But now that I’m an Emwahpean, I know that with all of her issues, my mom loved me more than anyone can ever love me. Like I love my kids more than anyone else ever will. It’s the irrefutable Mother’s Burden. *If your mother doesn’t love you, she is either very sick or NO ONE DOES. And you may want to reflect on that before coming to Emwahpee.

Some of us will need Emwahpee for one year. Some of us will need it for 20 or 30 years, or maybe until our own demise. But we don’t judge. Everyone’s grief hourglass will run out of sand at a different time, and when it does, we will know, because we will feel slightly better. Our grief may soften enough that we are finally able to enjoy the overpriced brunch in the largest ballroom. We may have been obligated to attend that brunch before we felt up to it, because many of us are moms ourselves and so we are expected to split our time between brunch and Emwahpee, but this particular year, the year we are ready, the brunch may actually taste good.

At Emwahpee, we will be happy for all members who are able to enjoy their respective brunches. However, after filling up on stacks of blueberry griddle cakes and Quiche Lorraine and fruit salad heavy on grapes and nearly-ripe canteloupe, we will ask all Emwahpeans to take a moment to hop over to the 2nd largest banquet room and visit the MWP Annual Meeting. Please stop in, give a hug or two, and then head to The Back Wall to leave something nice at The Give. We are our mothers’ children after all, we must continue to make them proud.



9 Responses to “ Mother’s Day When Your Mom Has Passed ”

  1. Ellen says:

    As an Emwahpean in spirit (I’ve been waiting for/needing this organization!) for almost 8 years , I would like to become a charter member. I will sign up for creating the wall and initiate howling in the howling corner for timid Emwahpeans.

  2. Carol Salatka says:

    I miss you mom, too. And mine.

  3. Boo Louis says:

    Oh that fine line between laughing and crying. We are part of such a sucky club. Luckily you also wrote about lice, which had me peeing my pants. Brilliant, all of it.

  4. francine hardaway says:

    I also miss your mom. I belong to Fwhapee., friends who have passed. I would have said Bfwhapee, but couldn’t figure out a possible pronunciation.

  5. Tiffany K says:

    Many memories console you and bring you the strength in the days to come. Your mom would be very proud of you, Lindsey.


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