Losing your mother is a shattering experience. Knowing that you can no longer just pick up the phone to talk to her about your day or have her welcome you with open arms as soon as you walk into her house can leave you feeling lost and like a little child again. Especially if you have a good and close relationship with her. And that is what Mindy Kaling went through when she lost her mother to pancreatic cancer.
Though Kaling’s mom, Swati Chokalingam, died in 2012 and it’s been seven years since, to her it feels like just yesterday. And the comedian continues to grieve her. “I always loved my relationship with my mother so much. She was the love of my life,” she told Good Morning America.
In fact, losing her mother made the 40-year-old dread Mother’s Day. “I always used to dread Mother’s Day because of how much I miss my own mom who passed away 8 years ago,” Kaling tweeted with a photo of captioned Snoopy holding a bouquet of flowers on one Mother’s Day. “Going to brunch and seeing all these women laughing and talking to their moms made me so jealous!”
Incidentally, on the day that Fox Network picked up the actress’s new show, The Mindy Project, her mother passed away, according to LA Times. So what should have been a great day instantly became one that would be tinged with sorrow. “One inadvertent thing I’ve learned from her passing is that anything bad could happen to me professionally, but it would not be worse than one sad weekend. The experience of losing my mom was just so much worse than anything that could happen to me workwise. I could lose all my money, and I would be like, it’s fine.”
However, she believed that it was her mother’s help that got her show off the runway. Speaking to TV host, Oprah Winfrey, she said, “That was — I think divine timing was correct,” she said. “It was as though when she passed away, there was something she was able to help me in, in another way. It was within the hour, actually,” as quoted by Little Things.
If anything, it even distracted her from her grief. “I was very lucky that the show started up at that time so I could just throw myself into it and distract myself. But the truth is, even though it’s been three years, it still feels like it just happened. I remember the sound of her voice so distinctly,” Kaling told InStyle. And in the end, there was still something missing.
Desperate to find a mother-daughter relationship as special as the one she had with her mother, she realized one thing — she would have to be a mother herself. She told GMA, “When she passed away when I was 30, I thought, I really want to have that relationship again even I have to be the mom and someone else is the daughter.” And surely enough, she did have her own daughter.
According to Today, The Office star welcomed her first child, daughter Katherine, in December 2017. And in honor of her “soulmate”, as she told Good Housekeeping, her mother, she kept her daughter’s middle name Swati. However, it wasn’t the smoothest journey. In June 2018, Kaling delivered an empowering commencement speech at her alma mater, Dartmouth College, where she opened up about the fear and trepidation she felt when first bringing her little girl home without having her mom there, according to People.
“After my daughter was born in December, I remember bringing her home and being in my house with her for the first time and thinking, ‘Huh, according to movies and TV, this is traditionally the time when my mother and spouse are supposed to be here, sharing this experience with me’,” said the mother of one who chooses not to disclose the identity of her daughter’s father.
“And I looked around and I had neither. And for a moment it was kind of scary, like, ‘Can I do this by myself?’ ” she continued. “But then that feeling went away because the reality is, I’m not doing it by myself. I’m surrounded by family and friends who love and support me.” And in her same tweet for her first Mother’s Day with Katherine, she said, “But this year, I feel lucky to have my daughter, because telling her stories about her grandmother is a great distraction. But I will always feel that hole in my heart.”
So the mother-of-one continues to build a bond with her daughter the way that her mother built one with her. More than that though, she knows her mother is still with her. “If something comes up in the news, or even if I’m trying on an outfit in the morning, I can look in the mirror and know what she would think,” she said, according to EOnline. “Sometimes, I will have the most vivid dreams. I’m very skeptical as a person, but I will have the most vivid dreams of her talking to me; even in my dreams I’m skeptical! I’m asking her, ‘Mom, how can this be? I know you’re not here.’ And she’s like, ‘I know—but I am here.'”
And she will continue to be for as long as Kaling remembers that her mother remains in her heart and her own in her daughter’s.