"What do you wish you could say to your mom right now?"
Would you tell her how hard it is to appreciate everything she's sacrificed? Would you vent your anger? Would you apologize for a long-unacknowledged wrong?
Would you tell her how much you loved her?
That's what we asked people in New York City's Washington Square Park on a Thursday afternoon in May, the week before Mother's Day.
Participants wrote their messages on index cards and dropped them in a shoe box.
Some were heartwarming.
Some were heartbreaking.
Some were revealing.
Some made no sense at all.
All were intensely personal.
The largely anonymous notes express a kaleidoscope of emotion — sorrow, anger, love, guilt, and deep gratitude. All for the person who made their authors into the people they are today.
Here's what they had to say:
The notes reveal that while a mother's effect on the lives of her children might be complicated, even fraught at times, it is always unforgettable, even years later.
Whether your mother was loving or distant, whether she was there or not, whether she's alive or passed on, for so many, she remains center of gravity around which parts of your life will always orbit.
If that's not cause for celebration, what is?
Happy Mother's Day.