Everyone has at least one moment in their life that changes them forever. It can put you on top of the world or make you hit rock bottom. For me, that moment was when my mom died of pancreatic cancer.
Losing her really hit me hard. Doctors told us she had six months. So, I should have been prepared. But the truth is you’re never prepared. You don’t know how the death of someone you love will affect you until it happens. And when she died this evening fourteen years ago, a piece of me died with her.
The moment right after she passed away was surreal. In front of me was her lifeless body turning cold. Yet only a few minutes ago I had spoken to her. “Mom,” I said, “If you’re ready, it’s ok for you to go.”
As she lay in bed dying, I kept telling her how much my brother and I loved her. I stood by her bedside and held her hand. While I looked into her eyes I tried to stay calm. But once she stopped breathing I completely lost it.
I never imagined that I’d lose my mom so soon. She was only fifty. My grandparents lived almost into their eighties and I expected her to as well. Although I was already an adult at the time, inside I was still that little girl who needed her. But there I was watching her die. And that sad memory has stuck with me ever since.
It was tough getting through the holidays, birthdays and anniversaries of her death. On those days, I’d fall into a deep depression that I tried hard not to show. To be honest, I didn’t feel like living anymore. I have to admit I even thought of suicide. But the promise I made to my mom to look after my brother kept me from actually doing it. Even the things I did accomplish in my life didn’t mean much. So, I settled into living a life below my potential.
Then about a year ago, I decided I didn’t want the pain of losing her to be the focus of my life anymore. I learned how others worked through their grief to help me through mine. It also helped to connect with friends who have been there. Eventually, it became easier to share feelings that I had kept bottled up inside for years.
To this day, I still miss my mom very much. Sometimes a thing or a place will remind me of her. While it’s still painful, my emotions of grief are not as raw as they used to be. Deep in my heart, I know she’s still guiding me. I just wish I could talk to her and hear her voice. I wish I could hug her again.
One day we will be together again. And when I see her, I hope that I have made her proud. Until then, I will work on becoming the person I was meant to be before I lost her. It’s the only thing I can do to honor her and the life she gave me.