Mother’s Day, 2016 – Come Home

“Rebirth itself is merely a dawning on your mind of what is already in it.”

                                                                      A Course In Miracles, T-6.I.7:2

Mother’s Day comes while I’m still transitioning into spring, in the midst of blooming Dogwoods, Cherry Trees and wildly growing grass tamed by lawn mowers. None of this fools me. The life spring brings is as temporary as winter’s corpses, but it feels way less comfortable or familiar. I love the quiet of winter, the promise of snow, the dark and cozy it brings. It was so before Philip died, and has a certain ironic truth to it now. There’s no end to it – as soon as life takes form it’s dying; as soon as something dies, life is taking shape again.

The things whose beauty I marvel at – the bursts of May flowers, the Apple Blossoms, Cherry Blossoms, Dogwoods and Magnolias, the hot pink and wildly purple Rhododendron  – gone in a few weeks, their blossoms scattered while we’re left with months of green and heat. Or fall, when trees show their true magnificence as leaves go rust and red and deeply, beautifully golden…but all-too-soon they’re swept into huge lawn bags and carted away as so much nuisance.

Ruffling though some papers, I found something I’d written on Mother’s Day, 2002. Philip was 11, Natalie nearly 9. I was worn out. I wrote, “Today I want to leave…I think I need my eyes peeled back…I am worn with managing my children’s lives…Today I want to be jolted…I want to live life as if it mattered…as if my-self were not the center but the radiator…What if I felt useful?”

So there, on Mother’s Day, with all the taking-care-of I did for my children, I was not feeling useful. I was not understanding that even though they were growing up and away they needed me, and they needed me much.

I also wrote that I would like to write them each a poem. “To Natalie I would say, you are my heart. To Philip I would ask that he forgive me – it is hard and angry too often.”

What was hard and angry, and why don’t I remember?

I met Ed in 1996 when I went back to college to get the degree I still didn’t finish. He was my Professor, my mentor, and now my dearest friend. We started emailing and I have most of those emails in various binders. 18, to be exact, with one missing and one destroyed for reasons I won’t get into now.

I emailed Ed my life. What happened and what I felt about it. Reams of it, I have. And his thoughtful, insightful and beautifully written replies. I can go back to May, 2002, and find out exactly what was going on. I took a quick look, and right there, two days after Mother’s Day, 2002, I wrote an email to Ed, subject line, “My Son.”

How fucking grateful am I? I didn’t read that email, though. I decided, particularly with the memoir in mind, that I would start with 1996 and make my way through. There are stories there, things about my children that I don’t remember, but are right there on the page for me to re-live. Like when Natalie was four and Philip six. They shared a bedroom, and sometimes at night, after putting them to bed, she would cry and I would go to her. One night when she was sobbing, as I made my way to their room, I heard Philip say, “Natalie, why are you crying? I love you.” “No you don’t.” she answered. “I’m going away.”

Philip used to come in my bed sometimes, lay with me before he went back to his bed to sleep. One night he came in while I was burning incense. He snuggled up to me and said, “Mom, you know what that smells like?”

“What?” I asked him.

“That smells like flowers from heaven.”

“Really?” I asked him, both startled and pleased.

“Yes. Like I’m in heaven and all the people are flowers. Then I fall through the clouds and I have a flower for a parachute to fall to the ground and come home.”

Philip, honey – I know you’re around. But if you find that flower, if you fall through those clouds, if you parachute to the ground, could you please – please- come home.

© 2016 Denise Smyth


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ed Hack
    May 10, 2016 @ 09:33:45

    I’ve never in these pages read a more simple, heart breaking ending.


  2. Denise
    May 10, 2016 @ 15:06:51

    I can’t yet read it without crying.


  3. Rose
    May 16, 2016 @ 09:10:02

    Sooooo beautiful, so sad, so touching. It’s unbeliavable how we constantly think that our jobs as mothers are unuseful, unworth, unpaid, ungrateful, etc…but I guess what we don’t really see until someone tells us or until our kids do something that will affect us so much, is how much they need us, how much they look up to us, and how much they need our love.

    I couldn’t control my tears after I was done reading your piece.

    Thinking of you…




    • Denise
      May 19, 2016 @ 08:21:55

      Thank you, Rose. How hard was it for me to write that? There are ways it strikes me that Philip’s not coming home and once again, I’m devastated. I miss him, I miss him – I’m grateful you’re out there, paying attention. xoxoxo


  4. jmgoyder
    May 16, 2016 @ 09:22:56

    OMG you have altered my soul.


    • Denise
      May 19, 2016 @ 08:23:17

      How kind of you, Julie; I’m so teary since I wrote this. Sometimes I’m so angry, sometimes so defeated…and I miss him too much.


  5. Rose
    May 19, 2016 @ 12:00:53

    Missing, not been able to touch, listen to his voice, smell his skin, touch his hair,see how his eyes look into your eyes and so many other things that only a parent can relate when it comes to their own kids……I bet it’s hard, I bet it hurts, I bet it makes you cry….and unfortunately, there is nothing we can do, but to help you dry your tears, and be there for you. There is a word in Portuguese that defines all these feelings…SAUDADE…there is not a really good translation in English for what the word really means, but it means a lot more than only missing someone, it’s deeper than that….. often thinking of you and Phillip…you are both in my heart.


    with love,



    • Denise
      May 19, 2016 @ 15:20:47

      I looked that word up – it’s perfect. I’ve been reading emails I have since 1996; I’m up to 2001. It’s put me in an odd place. And much as I was writing of the difficulties I was having when my kids were getting older, I miss it; I miss living with them, miss being able to talk to them every day, being involved in their lives…what it all comes down to is that I miss my son.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: