Being a mom means more than having given birth to a child. It’s loving and knowing a soul before you even see it. It’s carrying and caring for a life completely dependent on you for survival. I have had this privilege for 18 years being a mom myself, but prior to this, I had a mom like this for 45 years.
Our life was not peaches and roses, but with unconditional love and a mom who gave her all to better herself for the 4 of us, has taught me lessons that I still cherish and realize today. We went through hell. Abusive father, at times no food, no electric, washed our clothes in the bath tub and set them out to dry so we could re-wear the same outfit the next day. At one point, we had to go live in the Children’s home and for a few years, I lived with a family off and on. Yet, my mom busted her ass to get us all back home and in time she did. Her unconditional love and determination to better herself so it could better our life taught me lessons that I had no clue I was learning as a child. But as an adult and as a mom, I can now see all she did, was for us.
My mom died a year ago this month. Somehow on January 28th, I will have made it 365 days without hearing her voice, (besides the voice mails I have on my phone) or seeing her smiling face. Grief can be an endless black hole. At times I felt like I was being sucked dry of any emotional reserve I think I may have had. This past year I have felt trapped alone, and helpless more times than I ever thought I would in my entire lifetime. I was drowning in grief, unable to see a light. I faked it, I plastered a smile on my face and I mentioned her in several memories. At first, my mom was my daily waking thought. But as time moves on she is maybe my third or fourth thought of the day.
Last winter into the Spring was a crazy time of transition for me. I found that I had lost all courage, conviction, and confidence. I was unsure about everything, unable to make any decision of importance. I didn’t know what to do in the next chapter of my life. How do I make huge decisions about my life without hearing her advice and opinions first? How would I ever be sure that she is proud of me, that she approves of my decisions? Yes, this all went through my head. My heart hurt and I had no idea how to deal with it. Well, as they say, therapy is a great source. I had to reach out and talk to someone. It took me months to grieve and it was a very lonely road, yet a road that built my soul to where I am today.
As months have moved on, the 28th is still the day of my moms’ death. When my kids are doing their firsts or their things of excitement, I do think of my mom first thing. I was fortunate enough to have a best friend in my mom. She was the person I turned to for advice, talked to every morning on my way to work, and the one I could cry on no matter my age. She was part of my soul and a huge part of my life.
As January 28th approaches, I can only think this anniversary means I have to leave my mom permanently behind. I will never leave the memories or the lessons behind as those are forever embedded in me.
I don’t look at my mom’s passing as bad anymore because it’s what freed her from a life of pain and misery. I miss her, but I don’t wish she was still here for my own selfishness. I look at the last years of my mom’s life and think about all the tests and surgeries and fear she encountered on a daily basis. I think about her losing the ability to see, to drive, to walk. I think about her losing her independence – a very trait my mom couldn’t live without. I think about the sadness she felt inside her heart when she realized she couldn’t live life the way she wanted to anymore. She’ll still parent me and guide me because her words, her teachings live on through me. And those same words and lessons will live on through my children and so on and so on. The memories we built will carry me on. The memories of Notre Dame Football Games, our yearly vacations, the relationship she had with my boys are such blessings that today I can smile and say “I was lucky to have that.”
Happy Anniversary Mom. I am so happy you are pain-free and with David (my brother) and Grandma and Grandpa. I can never in my life thank you enough for all you taught me, the unconditional love you taught me and showed me and the determination to always better myself.