This post is a part of a special series in partnership with Permission to Write called Mom/Me: An exploration of motherhood and beyond. This collection of poetry, essays, and visual media showcase the many facets of motherhood and our relationship to it.
Mother’s Day is always difficult for me. It reminds me that I don’t have my mother here with me.
My mother had four children—three boys (including a set of twins) and me, the only girl—at a young age. My oldest brother went to live with his father and my twin brothers and I were put in foster care due to my mom being in an abusive marriage.
…My mother would have been very transparent with me about life if her own life hadn’t been taken away too soon.
My relationship with my mom was estranged at certain ages, but right before her death, it became the relationship I was yearning for. We bonded, engaging in mother-daughter activities such as shopping, dining out, road trips, and girl talks. We were enjoying our time together, building a relationship after foster care.
My mom lost her parents at a young age and was the only child. Now that I am older, I understand that my mother did the best she could with the tools she had during that time. I now have a greater admiration for her: I see my mother as a strong, perseverant, and virtuous woman. I believe my mother would have been very transparent with me about life if her own life hadn’t been taken away too soon.
My mother died at the age of 34; she was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer when she was 32. When my mother was diagnosed, she had a lump the size of a golf ball in her left breast. The cancer went into remission for two years before she passed away in Gilchrist Hospice Care in Baltimore.
I was devastated as I was away on vacation for my 13th birthday. The last time I saw my mother we were traveling to Louisiana so I could spend the summer with my step sister. I was very emotional during that ride and I had no idea why. Little did I know that when I waved goodbye to her at the Greyhound Bus station as she traveled back to Baltimore, that would be the last time I saw my mom.
I remembered calling my step dad to speak with her prior to her death. She couldn’t really speak, and I wasn’t sure why. One night I had a bad dream that she passed away and I woke up in a sweat, crying my eyes out. The next day I received a call from my mother’s best friend. She was crying hysterically as she informed me that my mother was dying.
It takes time to heal. The process does not suggest the pain will ever go away…
I immediately went into a panic and cried. My step sister came home from work and rushed us to the airport. Sadly, due to a layover, I did not make it back to Baltimore in time. When I ran through the airport to meet my step dad and see if I had made it in time to see my mom, he shook his head and put his head down… It was then that I knew she was gone. I collapsed to the ground and have no idea how I made it home.
This moment plays over and over even while typing this. I’ve been healing ever since then. I’m 34 now, and the process does not get easier—at times it gets harder, especially when you are a single woman and don’t have a family of your own. Although I am not a mother, it is my desire that I will meet my Boaz and create a loving beautiful family of my own in God’s time. It can be lonely but my faith in God reminds me that He is always with me. Without my faith, I would not be here, because I am not strong enough to do life on my own without him.
I try to find ways to heal. One way is through service and empowering others who may feel hopeless and in deep despair. That’s why in 2015, I decided to host an annual motherless daughter brunch honoring angel moms and their daughters. This is a safe space to allow women to heal together as one, to learn new coping strategies and, most importantly, to be reminded that they are not alone and that grief is a process.
It takes time to heal. The process does not suggest the pain will ever go away; it just confirms that there are ways to cope and find the support needed to push forward each day, especially around Mother’s Day. The women leave feeling inspired and appreciated for their strength and courage to share their deepest and innermost feelings about being a motherless daughter.
My experience as a motherless daughter has taught me so much about the strength of a woman, the ability to endure despite unforeseen circumstances. It’s taught me how to incorporate holistic healing as a part of my lifestyle daily.
Due to COVID-19, I won’t be able to host my annual brunch, but I would like to share a few words of wisdom from a card I received in the mail. These words have kept (and continue to keep) me:
Your Mother will always be with you…
You will never forget her face or her voice,
or her love for you,
the traditions she handed down,
the things she stood for…
They are her gift and your legacy,
You honor her everyday in the way you live,
and the person you are to others!
Thinking of you all on this Mother’s Day. May you be inspired, strengthened and continue to be courageous in all that you do. You are never alone—God is with you always even in your darkest moments. He will come to bring you sunshine.
Latoya S. Felder, MSW is a case manager supervisor at one of Baltimore’s local emergency shelters using a holistic approach to provide supportive services to women in need so they can become thriving citizens.
In 2012, Latoya launched her first nonprofit organization, the SLR Breast Health Ambassadors, in memory of her mother. (She is planning on relaunching the organization in the future.) Latoya enjoys volunteering her time to various community organizations including FLO, My Sisters Place, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, inc. (of which she is a member), and Habitat for Humanity.