As we approach the 1 year mark of my mom’s passing (it is tomorrow the 17th) I wanted to do a little reflection on the past year without her.
This first year has been difficult, it’s been daunting, frustrating, exhausting, and slow. It has also been fun, exciting, happy and fast. It’s not all bad but it certainly hasn’t been the next best thing since sliced bread. They say the first year is usually the hardest but I’m not so sure. If I’m being honest, the first year has been mostly a blur. There have been some moments of extreme emotional clarity but not that many. There are days where I am on top of the world and there are days where I am under it. The desire to be where my mom is has been so fierce at times that I just wasn’t sure, but my desire to carry on my life in her honor has proven to me to be even fiercer. I miss her with every fiber of my being. My heart and soul crave her in a way that I cannot effectively communicate with words. I physically ache for her presence and I get sick thinking about the final months of her life. I was in no way prepared for this but I am learning as I go and making my way and that’s all I can do.
As I’ve stated before, so many things have changed for me. One major change has been my memory. I can hardly remember things that happened 2-3 days ago most of the time. My brain is on auto-pilot – that’s what my mom always called it. I’m just moving through the motions trying to get from one day to the next and my brain is on defense mode, thus the spotty memory. My brain is protecting itself from the trauma, I know that much (thanks Psych degree). Though in a way it’s kind of nice to be numb quite often, I know this is no place to take up residence so I’m unpacking it through therapy. I have also learned how to hide my emotions fairly well. Not saying that’s a good thing but it’s what I’ve done. I think I’m just so accustomed to pushing forward that I’m unsure how to move through these emotions that are heavy and slow me down. Sometimes I feel like it still hasn’t fully hit me yet and I’m scared for when that day finally comes.
In this year that she’s been gone I’ve done many happy and exciting things. I got a new car, I graduated college, I moved in with my boyfriend to our first apartment, I got my own insurance policy (big deal), and I got promoted! All of these things I wish she had been here for, I wish she had gotten to witness and be a part of some of my greatest moments. My mom was my rock, she pushed me to be better and work harder. She taught me to be kind, open, and thoughtful. She raised me to be strong, determined, and successful. These life events are a manifestation of all that she poured into me growing up.
I missed her at graduation because I knew she would have been so proud and the loudest person in the room as my name was called. I am forever grateful that my school came to perform a mock graduation ceremony for her right before she passed so at least she accomplished her goal of making it to my graduation. I missed her when Chase and I moved in to our apartment because I knew she would have been there with me all day long helping to move boxes, unpack things and put them away, just the normal things your mom would do because you’re her child. She would have been the perfect moving buddy. In these last 12 months, I have missed the smallest things like laying in her bed watching Judge Judy, Law and Order SVU, or Blue Bloods and eating cannolis from ACME or coming home from a long day and gathering in her room to just talk, laugh, and decompress. I miss going to family events with her and dragging her to Target with me (now I try to take Chase and it’s just not good lol). I miss her, just a little more each day.
I also mourn for the moments we didn’t yet get to share like shopping for my new place together, her teaching me all her tricks to saving money especially with grocery shopping, me being able to call her for recipes or dinner suggestions. The smallest things make the biggest impact. In the thick of it all though, I’d rather miss her immensely than watch her suffer the way I did the last few weeks of her life. Nothing will ever take the pain of those moments and now memories away but I can stand with my head held high and wipe my tears away each and every day knowing that she is no longer in pain. This year has taught me that I’d pick this outcome 1000 times over if the only other option was to have her here with me suffering. I think in learning that I learned what true love really is, it’s unconditional and sometimes it is uncomfortable. True love demands putting that persons needs before your own 100% and I know that if roles had been reversed that’s exactly what she would have done for me.
This year has been a rollercoaster full of ups and downs and definitely some “oh sh*t” moments. I learned so much about life over this past year. I’ve really learned about myself and I’ve gotten in touch with parts of me that I didn’t know existed. I think I’ve become more compassionate for others and a little less selfish. I have had a lot of good times with a lot of great people. I’ve made new friends and reconnected with old ones. I’ve developed a new found appreciation for my loved ones and the relationships I hold with them. I’ve had sooo many moms in my life step in to provide motherly assistance that I am not in need of anything and for that my heart is full and overjoyed. I know that time is the only way to heal from this pain and that is okay because all I have to do is take life one single solitary day at a time. Everything is not perfect but my strength will always be stronger than my struggle.