My Mother: she was there for my first breath and I was there for her last
Grieving is messy and ugly and doesn’t make sense at the best of times. I’ve been dreaming about my mom every night for the past week. I don’t know if it’s all the traveling or the elevated pregnancy hormones or Mother’s Day coming up but it’s driving me a little crazy. Albeit it’s good to see her in my dreams, I’m always left frustrated by 2 things: how the heck did she get out of her casket that is under 6 feet of dirt and why did I have to spend the last year and a half crying and grieving and hurting so badly if she is alive?! I’ve had dreams that my dad is alive for the past 20 years and he is always the same age as when he died (40) which is weird now as I’m turning 40. But i was always happy to see him.
I wake up in a puddle of my own sweat and tears with the dreams of my mom.
I feel so hurt that she is alive and made me go through all the pain of her death and funeral. I wake up angry at her and then start crying even more when I am awake enough to realize that no...she is actually gone. So now I’m awake at 4:23 am writing this because I don’t want to go back to sleep.
I have felt like a victim almost my whole life. I don't know the psychology behind it. Maybe it started when my dad died as I was going through puberty? All I know is I became very familiar with the role and took it on for way too many years into adulthood.
I am now in my 40th year of life and so much has changed in a few short years. This was the last picture I took of my mom and I before she died. Actually, the last picture of her standing:
This picture is an insanely strong image for me as I look at my moms eyes looking at herself in the mirror for the last time. As women we look at ourselves numerous times a day and how many of those times are we kind to ourselves? Or are we looking for faults, wrinkles, folds, grey hair? My mom was skin and bones when she died, but this photo shows her grace and compassion and faith all in one.
Her words and poems during her entire battle with cancer were not "why me", they were: "why not me".
She didn't concern herself with why this was happening to her. She was concerned with much greater questions like:
How can I help others go through what I'm growing through?
How can I give back?
How can I show the world my faith in a God who has a purpose for everything and gives peace that surpasses all understanding?
We are not called to understand, but rather:
we are called to love
we are called to help others
we are called to care
I continue to learn from my mothers example and have trained my brain and heart out of my victim mentality. I have adopted a new role for what I'm praying is the better half of my life. I don't have time to be a victim. I don't have time to ask "why". I am now asking "how".
How can I help? How can I love more? How can I be kinder? How can I love deeper?
Everyone experiences pain. ALL OF US will experience death. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
The dichotomy of death is the same as the illusion of time. You could tell me my mom died 6 months ago or 10 years ago and it somehow feels the same on the anniversary day.
I have learned to anticipate the waves instead of fighting them trying to keep my head above water, which only tosses me around and ends up crashing me again and again onto the shore. I now have strength and training through years of experience and can dive deep into the waves with my eyes wide open allowing them to roll over me without fear of drowning.
There is no greater freedom than taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions and emotions.
So much has changed since she took her last breath and yet I still find myself picking up my phone to FaceTime her when one of my babies hits a milestone. 3 years ago my mom took her last physical walk on this earth. She stopped eating a few days prior due to organ failure and was extremely frail so I helped her to the door of her room that we decorated for her just like we did my dads 26 years prior.
Those of you that knew my mom know she loved to make everything a celebration, so we had balloons and ladybugs and hearts everywhere. We didn’t know she would die 2 days later, but we knew it was close to the end. I will spare you the details, but for those of you who have been there on the last days of life you know how grueling it is watching, hearing and literally feeling life slip away .
It was hard to let go then and it is still hard to think about those precious last days now. But I am who I am because of examples like this. My moms strength, tenacity and most of all faith through her last steps and even breath. I am forever grateful and forever changing through this cycle of life and death. As I remember my dear mother, I choose hope through my tears. I choose connection through the pain, and I choose love above all.