Without my mother

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you amazing, selfless, strong mothers. You have the privilege to help shape and mold the next generation. Let them to be kind, compassionate, productive, loving human beings.

Mother’s Day was my absolute favorite holiday to spoil my mom.

In the past I’ve written her poems, painted a portrait for her, dedicated songs, expressed my love in heartfelt cards, flowers and gifts. She reveled in all the attention and love she received from her children and grandchildren. I loved seeing her happy. She was our best friend. She was the most magical beautiful soul. She left this world almost four and a half years ago, just four months after we lost our dad. I miss them both so immensely that the grief I feel no longer exists in the same space with my other emotions. Instead, it has carved out its own singular realm and like breathing—it is ever-present and subconscious.

My mother, a woman from a prominent family in Afghanistan was slight, but her frame belied her strength and resilience. She was the Matriarch of our family, a proud Afghan and woman of deep faith who always put her family first. She was a stylish, regal, worldly, educated, kind and a lifelong feminist. She was able to have conversations with world leaders and the guy next-door just as easily and as eloquently. She made everyone feel special and valued. She was always impeccable with both her manners, and the way she presented herself . She always dressed, wearing heels, jewelry and makeup, with a few spritzes of her signature perfume, Chanel No. 5.

On the first Mother’s Day after she died, I walked into an elevator in Nordstrom, a store we frequented together, to find an elegantly dressed older woman wearing my mom’s signature perfume. It made me flinch inside. As soon as the doors of the elevator slid open, I ran out, gulping mouthfuls of air and letting out a jagged cry. I just wanted my mother.

I’ve inherited some of my mom’s beautiful jewelry and have kept a few articles of her clothing. Every few months, I sit on the floor surrounded by her things and I carefully select a box to open. I choose just one, because I ration the sweet lingering perfume trapped inside them. I put my nose inside the container and take a long whiff before I quickly close it again. For a few minutes, I am dazed and shot full of adoration—and although my chest feels hollowed out, it is still too small to contain all my emotions.

Since their passing, I have felt as if a thick, warm coat that kept me insulated against the harshness of the outside world has been pulled off with one swift motion. I am exposed to life’s elements. Still, I am learning to wrap myself in every detail, smell, and color of those happy memories until the harshness relents just a little and I am warmed by the rich fragrance of Channel No. 5.

I miss you mom, I carry you within my heart always and I see you within your grandchildren .