my mom

Every time anyone asks about how I am since my Mom died, I always answer the same thing.  I say, "It is just so weird that she is gone that I can't quite describe what I feel."  I wrote a post about her after she died and made her the Women Entrepreneur of the week, and she was quite an entrepreneur.  My sister has been wanting to write something and she finally did.  Her post, of course, just made me weep. 

Here it is.

My Mother Was


It’s hard to believe that only recently my mother was the “young 73 year old,” living her life, mentally sharp, interested, active, meeting friends at new restaurants, playing bridge, going to movies and plays, walking the streets of New York, feeding its economy by spending at all the best stores and nail salons. It’s hard to believe that only months ago she was always at the other end of the phone. But my mother was, and isn't anymore. On November 5th we found out she had brain cancer. And on December 16th she died. 

I’ve tried to sit down and write this, write something, many times over the last few months, but never got very far. Initially I think I had wanted to give life to her memory, and then maybe in some small way to honor me, my brother and sister for the experience we had all gone through together. Other times, just to clear my head. But today is my birthday, a day that was naturally as much hers as mine. Also a day when, year after year, I could always rely on the first call of my day to be from her. Today, filling the silence with words about her, seemed like the right time to try to finish this, whatever this is.  

The numbness from the shock and the emotionally exhaustive 5 1/2 weeks we spent watching as each day she disappeared a little more has worn off. But in its place, has come a strange, long mix of emotions. Initially I just felt “off,” for lack of a better term. It was time to go back to work, get back to life, so my body went through the motions. But my brain didn’t always follow. I found I couldn’t concentrate very well or pay attention to anything for very long. I can’t count the number of things I lost or misplaced during that first month. The “off” phased into a feeling of disorientation, just couldn’t find my balance. My brother described it in terms of DNA, half of it suddenly disappearing. For me, it felt like a missing limb. I knew she wasn’t there, but it felt like she was. And in her absence, pain and sadness. Now, I'm just trying to make sense of how someone is here – and then not. 

There is definitely some comfort having my siblings, Jerry and Joanne, around. Both to share in memories of her, and process the whole thing. Although we all had very different relationships with my mother and are coming to terms with it in our own way, we’re all tied together in ways that go back far beyond the last few months. And the loss is profound for each of us, even as it manifests itself in different ways. 

Random memories of her come at the oddest times and for no reason at all other than she is clearly top of mind. At the gym, in a meeting, on the subway… thoughts of her through the years, when she was sick, and the weeks before that, of the signs that might have been a clue there was something wrong. 

My mother was a dichotomy of many things, as we all are. She was sweet, sensitive and very easy going, but also quite judgmental. She was very opinionated, but didn’t always feel it was her place to interject. (Sharing her thoughts with others instead of the intended target.) She was very loving, but could also be aloof at times, putting up just enough of a wall to keep her in her comfort zone. She could be very giving, but also unbelievably self-absorbed. She was creative, but also very smart with a good business head. She was quite weak in some ways, while incredibly strong in others – and brave too, braver than she gave herself credit for. Actually a real survivor. She just didn’t see herself that way. Ultimately, she had a very good life, fortunate in so many ways. But too often she viewed life through the lens of a half empty glass.  

Regardless of all the negative traits – some of which unfortunately she passed right along to me – I loved my mother deeply. She was incredibly cute, often quite silly and could really be very fun. Loved a party and a drink. Loved exploring new things, loved food & cooking (something she was excellent at), loved her kids and adored her grandchildren. My mother and I talked all the time, many times a week, if not daily. We enjoyed the city together, we traveled together, talked about nonsense – stories no one else would care about or listen to – and at times, we also annoyed the shit out of each other. In the end, although not always in the ways I wanted or needed her to be, she was there, always. For good, for bad and for everything in the middle, she was my mother – and I miss her. Especially today. 

My brother and I have birthdays two days (and two years) apart. And this year, I am celebrating with him and his family in L.A. Although I didn’t get the call from my mother this morning, appropriately, the first birthday greeting I got was from my youngest niece Ruby. She is sweet, sensitive, looks very much like a Solomon and loved Grandma Judy deeply. A picture of her and her grandmother sits by her bed. And she misses her too, so we reminisced and told funny stories about her the last few days. As Ruby says, sometimes it really feels like she is still here, like she just went on a long trip. 


Comments (Archived):

  1. Amy Bevilacqua

    Beautiful, three-dimensional post from your sister lovingly remembering all that your mom was, and still is. The part about her call being the first one every birthday morning really got me.

    1. Gotham Gal

      got me too

  2. rachel

    I am so touched and honored you shared this with us. As a new mom this hits even harder.”But today is my birthday, a day that was naturally as much hers as mine.”I love this line – I always thought my birthday was my birthday – I now realize it is as much a celebration of moms as it is of children.

    1. Gotham Gal

      i loved that line too. every year of our kids birthdays i always rememberthe exact day, literally, that they were born.

  3. rebeccastees

    oh, so tender and dear

  4. TanyaMonteiro

    wow a very heart felt, honest post that had me in tears. It made me think of a book I recently read called “chasing daylight” by Gene O’Kelly. Thank you for sharing helping me to think about many aspects of my own mother and our relationship.

  5. kirklove

    What a wonderful post. I feel like a ignorant fool as I completely missed your post and had no idea of your loss. My apologies and sincere condolences. Loss is hard no matter how you slice it. Both your post and your sisters are wonderful, honest, and touching.I fully believe that when someone we love dies a little piece of them gets injected into us. Maybe that’s corny, but I feel it. I’m guessing you do as well. They are in there and it’s up to us to keep their spirit, courage, and love alive. To honor their existence. I have no doubt you do that every day.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Thanks Kirk. Her impact on all of us is certainly felt every single day

  6. Shelly Lipton

    Touching Joanne. Happy birthday!

  7. Shelly Lipton

    Woops…happy birthday to your sister.

  8. Erin Newkirk

    It’s so hard to lose a parent. Not sure the numbness ever goes completely away, but I think the first year is for sure the hardest. Your first birthday, their first birthday, holidays. But it’s also a time to remember and honor them. Which can be special, too. Bittersweet, for sure, but important. xx

  9. Peggy Dold

    A friend of mine said it like this: when one loses their mother, the pain never goes away. It may change from a sharp pain to a dull pain, but the feeling of loss is always there. Your mother must have been incredibly proud of her family – thank you for sharing.

    1. Gotham Gal

      my sisters words…she couldn’t have said it better. thanks peggy

    2. Gotham Gal

      my sisters words…she couldn’t have said it better. thanks peggy

  10. Sunchwoder

    Beautiful post from your sister and I also appreciate you sharing this with us. It is so true and so real and pefectly stated. For me my first birthday after the loss of my Mom was so sad and I remember the first Mother’s Day as well. Once I had my daughter, Mother’s Day took on a new meaning and I was so grateful for that. I miss my mother so much, my heart goes out to all three of you.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Thanks so much Wendy. It hits me daily and at the strangest times

  11. Tereza

    (sniffle.)Makes me miss my mom too.I remember one morning my husband and I made pancakes and we sat down and I looked at him and said, “she was supposed to be walking in right about now to eat pancakes with us, and she never will.”And we both just started sobbing.It’s hard.

    1. Tereza

      BTW beautiful picture.

    2. Gotham Gal

      Omg. Reading your words just brings tears to my eyes

      1. Tereza

        i’m sorry.yeah those pancake moments are hard and there’s a full cycle of them to process.i mean, pancakes…wtf?

        1. Gotham Gal

          tears are good.