Even though she is gone …
Tomorrow would have been my mother’s 74th birthday. And if she were alive, she would see her children in happy committed relationships. She would have been able to meet her grandchildren. But she isn’t. The last birthday my mother celebrated was her 61st. She died before I became a mother, before I was even married. Even though she is gone, she is with me always.
There have been plenty of times that I’ve thrown myself pity parties, my go-to phrase is usually about how it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that she had to get sick. She was kind, giving and everyone loved her. It isn’t fair that I lost my best friend. It isn’t fair that my daughter will not know her grandmother. But usually at the peak of my pity party, I remember how incredibly lucky I was and still am. Perspective kicks in and I realize that my life is pretty great.
My mom and I were best friends. During the terribly awkward phase of middle school, she would let me skip school and would take a day from work. We would go to the mall, see a movie and she would remind me of a lesson I’ve returned to my whole life. She taught me that many of the kids that made school so unbearable would peak in middle and high school. They would look back and reminisce about the good old days. My mother always taught me to look forward to tomorrow and make it better than today, to always look at my life as an opportunity to improve and to grow. This is just one of a million things my mother taught me. It is just one the million reasons I’m lucky to be her daughter.
Losing my Hero
When I brought my mother home on hospice, the social worker told me that the only bad part of the kind of relationship I had with my mom, is that it has to end. It was heartbreaking to hear at the time, but now when I realize again how lucky I am. So many people just cannot have a true relationship with their parents. My mom used to tell people that the reason we were such good friends is because we took turns being the mother. We respected each other as women. We transformed a mother-child relationship into adult friends. How many people are lucky enough to become real friends with their personal hero?
When she died, I was terribly lost. I had dedicated such a great part of my life to her care. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew staying home and wallowing in my grief was only making it worse. So I went back to work. Fortunately, not only do I love my job, but it allows me to get so absorbed in it, that I can forget myself and any problems I may have. That first week back, teaching kept me together, but the cracks were evident to the students who knew me and knew what had happened.
At the end of the week, an amazing 8th grade girl waited after class to share a story with me. She told me that when she was eight and her mother died, she didn’t think she would ever be okay again. But she told me that she had been wrong. She told me that it would get better and that someday I would be okay too.
I am lucky
Even through my grief, perspective kicked in. The child standing before me lost her mother as a child and had the compassion to comfort me. At that moment, I was able to appreciate how lucky I had been. The pain was still there and nearly all consuming, but I could see how fortunate I had been. I was grieving something that this child hadn’t even had the opportunity to have. She lost a mother when she needed a mother. I lost my mother, when she was my friend.
I am lucky that I had such an amazing mom. I’m lucky that we had a relationship that most people can only dream of having. I’m lucky that I can look back on all time we spent together, good and bad, and smile that I had such blessings. I am grateful for the beautiful life I have today. If all of the things in my past, including losing my mother, had not happened, I would not be here today. I miss my mom everyday, especially on her birthday, but even though she is gone, I am lucky.
Read more about our relationship here.