"You look back on memories you forgot you had, and at times you'll smile even though it hurts so bad," reads a poem on grieving the loss of a Mother. For almost eight years now, I continue to grieve my own Mother's passing. Every milestone, accomplishment and practically everything else in between became different, mainly because I can't speak to my Mother about any of it. Each year as Mother's Day approaches, I feel a numbness in my heart. I feel numb and hurt, because I'm bombarded with advertisements, commercials and constant reminders to "get something special for Mom;" I really wish I could. However, while I have grieved this tremendous loss, I've also learned some very valuable lessons.
As selfish as it sounds, I feel jealous of those who can spend time with their Mother or whoever they choose to celebrate on these appreciative holidays — I long for the next time I can celebrate my Mother in her presence again. Since my Mom has passed, I've learned and I've grown. Out of all those lessons, the most important of them has been to not take people for granted. Although everyone's time eventually comes to an end, certain deaths you're never prepared for; those can be life-altering. For me, losing my Mother changed my life.
I was nineteen. For years, I thought I was prepared for whenever my Mom's time would come to an end, because she had battled Stage IV Breast Cancer since 2008. However, I found out that there's no amount of preparation that can get you ready for something like this. I certainly thought I was ready, but I learned the hard way that this wasn't the case. Initially, I felt a sense of relief because my Mom's suffering was finally over. Shortly thereafter, though, I was afraid to wake up the next day, because I knew this wasn't a dream. I knew what my life had become, but I wasn't ready to deal with it — not that I had a choice.
Continuing a 'normal' life after a significant loss sounds like something of an oxymoron, because reality is nothing of the sort. For example, you have to learn to adapt to life without this person, to continuously remind yourself that they're no longer tangible and to learn that they're now a permanent part of your past. None of those are normal, by the way; or at least to me they weren't. I wish there was a black-and-white manual on how to cope with significant loss, but there isn't anything any of us can do besides embrace time. For about a year, I couldn't speak about my Mom without crying or getting choked up. When I finally overcame that, I felt like I had accomplished something massive. To some, this achievement might feel minuscule and silly. To others like me, this is gigantic. I'm sure there are countless people currently working on this step. At the point in my life where I am right now, I live to make my Mother, as well as the other loved ones I have left, proud.
I know my Mom is always with me, but I still envy people who have what I don't. Although I no longer have my Mom here physically, I do have memories and I'm content with celebrating those beautiful memories, because they're exactly that — beautiful. Sometimes, I daydream about what my life used to be like, almost like it's a safe space for me. I guess it is a safe space, because everyone I've lost in my life are all there, like my Mom, Godmother, Grandma, even my Great-Grandmother. I used to dread having to explain to my future children the story of what happened to my Mom, but now I'm excited to share how amazing, strong and wonderful of a woman and human she was (and always will be). I love every part of my Mom, even the parts that some people considered negative, because they're all pieces of her.
If there's one thing that losing my Mother has taught me, it's to cherish your loved ones, because everything can change in the blink of an eye. Call them up and tell them you love them, celebrate them and continue to make memories, because once they're gone, you'll wish that you had more time. If you and I share a similar experience, I'm sorry you have to go through it, but I promise that it gets better. I share this with you on Mother's Day, because the day always reminds me of this life lesson. I wish I had more time with my Mother, but if you still have yours, enjoy your time with her; please celebrate with her. Celebrate the different types of Mothers, as well as those who've assumed the roles of Mothers, on this special Sunday.
Happy Mother's Day to the strongest woman I know. I miss you every day
- Gabby (@moneybagsgabs)