Essay: On Mother’s Day, a sense of loss

Published By:

Philadelphia Inquirer


May 7, 2015


Even though I’m the mother of four wonderful kids, this year I will hate Mother’s Day.

I will also hate my oldest son’s graduation from graduate school later this month, and his brother’s birthday in June. I will hate summer barbecues, trips to the beach, and shopping at Macy’s, my mother’s favorite store.

The mere thought of eventual Thanksgivings and Christmases translate into great gloom, too.

That’s because they won’t include my mom, Carmela Sarnese Lazarovich, who, on April 20, while I held her hand in the smoky predawn, died at 83.

A few months ago, I told family and friends that my naturally effervescent and bubbly mother seemed “off.” She’d become sluggish and lethargic. Usually the life of the party, she’d curtailed socializing, stopped volunteering at Holy Redeemer Hospital, and seemed to sleep more than normal.

One Sunday, she arrived at our home for dinner not wearing her pink lipstick, a no-no for her. Her heart-shaped face had lost its beam. Her pantsuits drooped on her body like flung laundry.

My mother, who could be gentle, yet willful, dismissed any idea that her body might be sick. She’d grown up scrappy, with little medical attention. She’d always prided herself on being “as healthy as a horse.” It’s a virus, she told me. “All I need is some rest and a few Tylenols.”

On Feb. 26, when the ER doctor quietly explained they’d discovered a mass behind my mother’s abdomen, the tiled floor floated like a tartan blanket. I composed myself by leaning against the wall. Outside my mom’s room, I wept quietly, overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty.

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