How Writing, Sharing Stories Has Helped Make Mother’s Day Easier

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Not a day goes by when I don’t think of my mom. It’s especially hard not to think about her in early May, when I’m surrounded by mothers and daughters spending time together, commercials advertising Mother’s Day gifts and stories about moms.

In years past, Mother’s Day has been especially difficult for me because it’s always been an in-your-face reminder that my mom’s not here. I still get sad around the holiday but it’s not as difficult for me as it once was. I realize I was fortunate enough to have a mom for 11 years. I have mother-daughter photos and memories — gifts that some people aren’t lucky enough to have.

Writing about my memories of mom has helped make Mother’s Day and the anniversary of her death easier. This year I wrote a piece about a Wall Street Journal reporter, Katherine Rosman, who just authored a book about her late mother titled “If You Knew Suzy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Reporter’s Notebook.” Using her skills as a reporter, Katherine traveled around the country to interview people who knew her mother so that she could find out more about her life story.

Katherine told me many stories about her mom when I interviewed her last week. Normally, I don’t share much personal information with the people I’m interviewing because I want the focus to be on the person I’m talking to rather than on me. But I felt compelled to tell Katherine at the beginning of our conversation that I could relate to the stories in her book because I lost my mother when I was 11. In sharing this bit of information with her, we bonded a little as motherless daughters.

Katherine’s book has inspired me even more to write a book about my mom. I’ve started to ask my maternal grandma and my dad questions about the woman that she was. Throughout the past two months or so, my dad has been sending me “chapters” about my mom that describe how he fell in love with her and what she liked/feared most about having a child. Last week, I mailed my grandma a letter asking her more specific questions about Mom’s childhood  — questions that only she would know the answer to. The stories that she and my dad shares will no doubt inform my writing moving forward.

Even though I can’t be with Mom today, I feel comforted in knowing that writing can help me feel closer to her and that in talking with others who have also lost their moms, I can find ways to remember the mom I was lucky enough to have for 11 short years.