Friday, May 17, 2013

On The Girls in the Front Row

I just met "The Girls in the Front Row". And I cried.

I recently moved back to Kingston (yey!) and was presented with an opportunity to consult with a local author on publicizing her book, which is approaching a second edition release date. Knowing nothing about the author or the book, I shrugged to myself, and thought, "Why not?" After all, I am always looking for interesting work opportunities, and my interests are so varied that they tend to find me instead! This was one of those chance situations.

The book is called "The Girls in the Front Row" and it was authored by Linda Gayle Ross. It's odd for me to say that she is the author of the book, since the words and the stories, save for one, are not hers. The project, the book itself, and the feelings it elucidates are most definitely hers. But the stories belong to the Girls in the Front Row.

Who are the Girls in the Front Row? They are motherless daughters; women who lost their mothers young, and had to learn to live without that customary bond, and the assumed guidance of the most important role model in a young girl's life. Some were children when their mom died, some were young adults who were just starting families of their own. Now, they are aged between 16 and 90, and they still feel the pain of losing the opportunity to get to know their mom, let along getting to share their own life experiences with her. Their mom never had a chance of becoming a best friend. The girls didn't have that person to share a big smile with from stage during Convocation. They didn't have that person to run to for comfort no matter what was happening in their "real" lives.

Their stories are varied and so are their experiences and their ability to survive and grow after such a traumatic launch into life as a grown-up. But one thing is clear... The Girls in the Front Row have all, in their own way, had to struggle with pain and fear, and insecurity, and, worst of all, lost hope. Because even though many people have estranged or tense relationships with their moms, there is always hope that things may get better.

For the Girls in the Front Row, there is no hope. There is often grief, guilt, anger, and relief, but not hope.

As I was reading, the tears started to flow. Softly, at first, but with every story, my heart trembled a little more. It wasn't truly out of grief or sadness, but because I wished that I could just reach out a hand to hold theirs, give them a hug in their times of need, past and present, and tell them that someone was there for them. Someone who may not fully understand what they are going through but who could support them while they figured it out.

And then I realized how many Girls in the Front Row I know, personally. Also, boys who lost their mothers young, but, that's a different type of bond. Boys, after all, will never need to call Mom at work to ask what kind of tampons to buy in that first menstrual cycle freak-out moment!

The Girls in the Front Row that I know are all courageous, strong, and successful women. They all admire their moms and miss them very much. They have all adopted behaviours or objects or hobbies that remind them of their mothers. But, you know what? As the book makes very obvious, I have never asked them what happened on the day they lost their Mom. How they felt in that moment. And as one Girl in the Front Row points out, that is sad.

So as I wiped the tears from my face and closed the beautiful, emotion-filled book, I decided that the next time I spoke with my Girls in the Front Row, when the moment was right, I would ask them what happened on the day their mom died. And then hug them as they re-live the trauma and let free the feelings that they usually bottle up and keep for company in their day-to-day lives.

To my Girls in the Front Row, thank you for being such an inspiration.