On this day, six years ago, my mom took her last breath. That was one of the hardest things I’ve had to experience. Although I knew it was coming, death is something you can never be prepared for no matter how hard you try.
My mother and I had a very complicated relationship due to her addiction, causing her not to be around as much as I would have liked her to. When she was around, she was the most understanding, helpful, loving, fun person I knew which made it hard when she disappeared.
My grandmother, my mother's mom is now 96 years old and all of my mom’s siblings are still alive. I used to wonder how her mom outlived her and why I had to be the one to lose my mom. I learned that death doesn’t make sense and there’s no way to understand it.
I also learned that grief comes in stages in waves.
Some moments I can be perfectly fine and see something that reminds me of her and in an instant, I can be thrown into a full-blown grief attack. Often times around the end of September beginning of October my body will remind me of her anniversary. I will start to feel tired and heavy a little teary-eyed and sad. Because our bodies hold trauma, my body will often remember before my mind. When I begin to quietly question why my body is feeling this way, I am reminded of the loss of my mom.
There are five stages of grief, and they don’t show up in any particular order. The five stages of grief are denial, bargaining, depression, anger, and acceptance.
When she first transitioned, I did a lot of bargaining, thinking about things I could have done to save her. If I would’ve made her go to her doctor's appointments, maybe she would still be alive. It was hard for me when she died, because I was angry at her because she had relapsed into her addiction, causing her to not stay up with her chemotherapy appointments. She went from a woman in remission back into the full-blown cancer.
I thought if she loved me why would she do this to me. As time went on, I understood it was never really about me. Her addiction was about a woman who was attempting to escape the pain and the hurt she experienced in her lifetime. She dealt with her disappointment, pain and frustration through the numbing of addiction.
Today I’m in the stage of grief known as depression. I feel sad. I will miss my mom. I want to tell her about my life. I want to feel her hold me. I want to hear her tell me that it’s OK and call me baby and these moments have taught me to feel whatever I feel at the moment with the knowledge that this too shall pass.
I used to be afraid of my feelings, afraid to allow myself to cry because I was afraid that if I started crying, I would never stop or if I allowed myself to feel sad, I’d never feel better. Since then, I’ve learned that it’s OK to feel however I feel in the moment because brighter days will come. I’ve learned to savor each good day to the fullest, because another not so good day is also coming. In the not so good days, I allow myself to feel them as well so that I can really appreciate the great moments.
It’s been said that grief is a sign that you have loved someone, and someone has loved you. Today I appreciate the love my mother has given me, and I honor the life that she has given me by choosing to live it to the fullest.
I love you, Mommy.