I remember riding in the car with her. I’m not sure what we were doing that day but we were laughing and having a moment about something. Our laughter may have been about the hours she would take strolling through Walmart as I pushed a full basket of groceries in protest behind her almost every Saturday. She always wanted to make sure she had enough food in the house “just in case”. Or we were probably coming from a Doctor’s appointment where we spent time trying to explain aches and pains that accompanied her many strokes. I can’t remember the event but I do remember after a brief laugh shared between the two of us I mustered up enough courage to ask my question: “what will I do when you are gone”? We both paused. She looked out the window in search of her answer and I fought back my tears waiting for her response. I didn’t mean to change the mood in the car but I needed to know. I needed her to tell me what I was supposed to do when she was no longer here with me. Maybe my question was selfish. Centered around my own feelings of loss I knew I would have once she was gone.. I knew my question didn’t diminish my role as a mother to my own two daughters but my question was coming from a deep place of a daughter who one day would no longer have her own mom. I wanted her answer to prepare me for life without her. After a long pause she answered me “you will live your life Shelly”. That’s it I thought? Was that all she could say? It took a lot for me to ask my Mom that question. We had spent so much time together throughout my entire life so with her health quickly declining I wondered how much time we actually had left. But just as hard as it was for me to ask her that question I would imagine it was hard for her to answer it as well. I knew then that her answer was full of genuine care and love for me. She wanted me to live my life. To be happy. To be loved.
Losing someone you love is never ever easy. I wish I would have been better prepared in a way for it to have been less painful. But we are never prepared to let them go. We all wish we had one more day. One more touch. One last smile or the sound of their voices one last time.
Grief is painful and agonizing. Our lives have been changed forever. It’s part of a process that you can’t explain. No matter what the circumstances are surrounding the loss we are never ready. We struggle hard to piece the fragments of our broken hearts back together.
As I struggle to write this post 3 years after my mom’s death I wonder if I took her advice seriously. Am I living my life? Is it full? Full of joy? Full of love? Am I truly loved? And do the people in my life truly feel loved by me? Would she smile at the woman I am growing to become? Would she feel good about this chapter of my life?
As you read this and struggle through your own personal journey of loss whether it’s brand new or happened years ago ask yourself how are you healing? How is the process going? Are you living your life? And what does that look like for you? Is your life full? Are you happy? Are you surrounded with love and support and are you giving your best love in return? After the most devastating loss the pain is still there but there is also a circumference of hope. With time you will be able to reinvent yourself but take your time and be patient in the process. Be kind to your heart as you work through the grief and maneuver through your own personal healing. Everyone is different so don’t give up on yourself.
As time goes on you will be able to take the advise of my Mom and apply it to your own situation. Tell yourself kindly to “live your life”.