The woman whose disappearance and death drives the entire novel, Sal's mother is a loving but deeply troubled wife and mother. Sal, who experiences a deep emotional bond with her mother, delights in her smiles, stories, and unpremeditated acts of joy and love. Even so, Sal's mother feels a sense of competition with her husband, and is plagued by the sense that she is not as "perfect" as he. Like her husband, she wants to have a house full of children, and consequently is crushed by her miscarriage and resulting hysterectomy. Confused and saddened by this loss, she feels as though she has become alienated from the person she was before her marriage and experiences a growing desire to reconnect with her old self. When she leaves on her journey, she cannot even bring herself to say goodbye to Sal because a spoken goodbye would feel too permanent. The novel never fully discloses what happened to Sal's mother during the course of her journey. She sends Sal postcard upon postcard, all of which declare her love and longing for Sal. The accident, of course, curtails any transformation and recovery, and Sal must reconcile herself not only with the loss of her mother, but also with the sadness that motivated her departure. Sal's mother is torn between her undeniable love for her husband and daughter and her unrelenting confusion and sadness.