Thursday, July 10, 2014

The year that was

 "Someone once told me that when you give birth to a daughter, you've just met the person whose hand you'll be holding the day you die"     - Jodi Picoult - Change Of Heart

A year ago today, I (we) made a decision that I never imagined having to make, and was left with a sadness that is beyond any description.   I wasn't sure how I'd ever get through ONE day, let alone an entire YEAR.  When you lose someone you love, that first year without them, is probably the hardest.  It's full of all the FIRSTS.   First birthdays, first holidays.   I had gotten so used to Christmas with Mom, that I hadn't imagined her ever not being there.   Thanksgiving, Halloween?   The same void.  One of the harshest realizations, I found, was that none of our holiday pictures would have Mom in them, from this point on.    That, in itself, took my breath away.  Sometimes the acceptance just isn't there.  Then, one day, you suddenly gasp audibly and stammer "Oh my God, she really is gone".
 I'm so grateful for my friends who checked in often and helped me through that first year.  Especially, the texts that said "I know today must be hard for you.  I'm here if you need me".  I never called... but I was glad that the offer was there.   
We got through it as a family, and continue to.  We do it with humor and laughter, most times.  There was a lot of that with Mom.    My family probably hasn't ever been closer and I do find that comforting.  Life works in crazy ways.  A once broken circle is starting to come together again. Albeit slowly, I will take it.   
 Getting used to Mom not being here was and continues to be such a struggle.  I was so used to her phone calls after work, her text messages every day; just being able to talk to her about anything and everything.  All the things that we take for granted so often. Things that YOU probably do too.    She made sense of everything.    Moms really do have a way of "making it all better", no matter what age we are.      I always try to remember that she is with me, day in and day out.   I truly believe that she "visits" me often.   I pick up her scent sometimes and I immediately know that she is checking in on me.  Even the funny incidents at church, during her birthday mass and memorial mass.  Oh man, that was a hoot.  That was Mom's doing.   We know it.   We look forward to those instances now. 
In the beginning, I would stifle my tears as much as possible because I was sure Mom was watching over me and I didn't want to make her sad.  She wouldn't want that.   She was always concerned about her kids being happy, and if she thought we weren't, it really affected her.  Even battling Stage IV cancer, my mom could forget about it and call me to talk about how she thought one of my siblings was heartbroken.  It really troubled her, and maybe even broke her heart a little more.   
 I rarely let her see me upset.   My mom defined "a mother's love" in every aspect.   She gave, she sacrificed, she loved unconditionally.   She thought I hung the moon.  And I assure you, I was not the perfect daughter.  I was not without flaws and I could have done much better, when it came to taking care of her.   But she and I just had a bond that most of my friends were envious of.   My mom always called me "sunshine".  She used it when she texted me "good morning", and she wrote it in all the cards she gave me.   She said I made her smile or laugh, even when she didn't want to.   But she didn't realize that she had that same effect on others.  Her wit and her humor were one of her best traits.  One of many.   I did inherit my quick wit and humor from her, but I wish I'd picked up other things too.  Like her 'take no shit from anyone' trait.       Her 'tell it like it is' attitude.    I know I'd have a lot less stress in my life if I were able to be  more like Mom in those ways.    No one would treat her or her kids like shit and get away with it.   She was a GOOD person, but everyone knew that she was a force to be reckoned with.  She didn't let people take advantage of her, or hurt her.   
For years, my mom would tell me that I should always say "I love you".. and she never knew why I had such a hard time saying it.     Hell, I don't know either.   I said it, but not as often as one should.   I can vividly remember, I stood at her bedside last year and whispered "I know I didn't always say it, but you know I love you".  Maybe she heard me, maybe she didn't.   But she had to know that I thought the world of her and I loved her more than I could ever say.  She was right, that day may come where I'll wish I had said it.   And come, it did.    Mom was always right. 
My challenge to you, today, is to call your mom.   Just to talk, and tell her you love her and appreciate her.   Make a lunch or dinner date.    If she's gone, then call someone else whom you love and do the same.   Don't wait until the chance has passed you by.   

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