The stage had been set. It was to be a landmark day for my daughter. She would reach a milestone in her young life on February 6th, and there would be no turning back!
The morning started out lovely. She was out of school, thanks to a local school holiday. Since she had the day off, I decided to take it off as well. We were due for some much needed quality time together and this would be a great opportunity. And, given the significance of our first appointment that day, I thought it would be fun to hang out with her.
The first order of the day was breakfast at our favorite spot. Upon getting out of the car, I remember we took a selfie to capture one of many fun moments we were anticipating that day. After eating breakfast we headed to the most important appointment on our schedule – DMV. This would be the day my daughter would obtain her driver’s license. Yes, a day to mark in infamy. She would now have free reign on the roads!
As I drove to the local DMV branch, jokes were made along the way. I often told her how much I was looking forward to the time when she could chauffer me like the movie, Driving Miss Daisy. The humor was lost on my daughter since the movie came out before she was even born! None the less, it was funny to me and I was looking forward to her obtaining her license.
We checked in and took our seats. Although there was a line when we got there, it seemed to be moving quickly. This was a good thing because we had a couple more appointments after this historic one.
Before her name was called, my cell phone rang. It was my brother. He was calling to say our mother had passed. His words did not register. I knew he wasn’t kidding but because my mind would not compute what he just said to me, my response was, “Are you kidding me?” Of course he wasn’t; no one would joke about something like that.
So there we were, in DMV falling to pieces. There was one sweet woman who came from out of nowhere and escorted my daughter and I to her office in the back. Her kindness will never be forgotten. She gave us an opportunity to grieve more privately than the public display of grief which overtook us in the lobby.
In hindsight, I can’t say how long we were in her office. Through reflection, what I do recall is my actions that day seemed out of place for the situation. Or, maybe they weren’t. I honestly believe I was in such a state of shock and didn’t know what to do. So, what we did was carry on with the rest of our day; tears and all.
The agents behind the counter at DMV had no idea what was happening in the back office. At some point, we heard my daughter’s name and number being called. The sweet woman who was providing a shoulder for us to lean on said, “You don’t have to do this today. You can come back.” As strange as it is, even to me, I told my daughter to go ahead and get her license. I would wait in the woman’s office. This was all new to my daughter. My mother’s passing was the first loss of a close family member she could remember. She was in shock as well but was able to finish the process and get her license on February 6, 2015, the day my mother gained eternal rest in Heaven.
Once gathering ourselves enough to walk through the lobby and out to the parking lot, we left and headed to our next appointment.
My mother was a very matter-of-fact person. She was sensible to the point her actions could be misconstrued as crude or insensitive (which she was neither of those things). That day I realized how much I am like my mother. The dermatologist could tell something was very wrong so he asked. The look on his face let me know he did not understand why or how I could be there in his office at that moment.
I didn’t know what to do that day. My heart felt as if it was literally breaking inside my chest, but I kept going. We finished our appointments. In a way, I felt like I was honoring my mom by doing that. She was definitely a “get it done” kind of woman.
Was my behavior strange that day? I don’t know. What do we compare it to? There is no right or wrong way to grieve. My matter-of-fact actions that day certainly were not indicative of a lack of love or respect for my mother.
You may be able to relate to this if you’ve already experienced a February 6th in your life (loss of a parent). If you haven’t, I encourage you to be kind to yourself when that day comes.