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”Things I Learned From My Mother – Be Yourself”

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“Pain changes your life forever. But so does healing from it.” 

The hell of watching someone die isn’t just the actual dying part. It’s the years, months, weeks and days leading up to it.

It’s the pain of watching day by day the most important person in your life slip further and further away from you while there is nothing you can do to stop it.

You don’t lose this person in one moment. You lose them gradually throughout the whole time they are sick. As time goes on, they become less and less the person that they were before this illness took over.

I don’t know how to find even slightly pleasant words to describe what watching a parent die feels like. I don’t know how to even try to explain it without curse words and screaming.

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It’s absolutely terrifying. It’s gut-wrenching. It sends you through a whirlwind of feelings and emotions. You don’t even know who you are anymore. It takes over your life.

 

When You Grieve the Loss of Your Mom …

What I learned was my mom taught me everything by example. I became the confident, independent man I am from watching my mom. She set the precedent.

My mom taught me that I could be anything I wanted to be. She wanted me to succeed in everything I tried. She made it known that things were different when she was a young girl. She didn’t have all of the opportunities I had. It was important to her that I took full advantage of all that life had to offer me.

I learned so much from my mom. But the greatest things she ever taught me was to live. To follow my dreams. To be happy. And I am all of these things today because of her.

My mom’s most valuable life lessons were taught to me when she was dying. When you’re saying goodbye to your mom, it doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, or how much money you have. It just sucks. But even through death, my mom continues to teach me new things.

Having to say goodbye to my mom was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. There are no words, yet you have to say something. I don’t even remember what I said. And now, it just doesn’t matter. Because now I realize that nothing had to be said.

My mom was diagnosed with kidney failure when she was forty-one years old. Now that I am twenty-six, I realize how young forty-one is. Every day I think, a little over fifteen years from now and I’ll be the age my mom was when she was given a death sentence. It scares the hell out of me.

I am also haunted by the fact of how hard it must have been on my mom. She knew she was going to die. She knew she was leaving the love of her life behind and abandoning her three kids.  I know that has to be what it feels like to say goodbye to your kids. No matter how old they are.

I remember going to the hospital and the nurse pulling us aside to tell us our mom was crying all night. I was shocked. I don’t know why. I just never stopped to think that my mom was scared. She was always my rock. She took care of all of us, always. She never felt sorry for herself and she was always so strong.

Knowing my mom had kidney-failure was one thing. Knowing my mom was scared was quite another.

My mom lingered on for many months. She was seen by many specialists at many hospitals. For a while there, we had hope. But then a last-ditch-effort trip to another world renown hospital would end all the hope and speculation. Now the goal would be to make her comfortable. To pray for peace.

Hospice came and set up shop in our family room. This was our new reality. We had visitors in and out every single day. Our lives were shattering, yet the outside world kept spinning.

Thankfully my mom didn’t suffer long. The end came fast. So fast we couldn’t all be there.  My cousins woke me up and said to come home by next flight. A nurse was taking my mom’s pulse and said it would be soon. Sometime in the next few hours, was her guess.

My mom died an hour later. With just my dad and my brother there. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know what was happening. I sat next to her for a while after she was gone. Staring at her. Willing for her to wake up. She didn’t.

A few minutes later, her friends arrived. My dad met them on the front porch as I stayed with my mom. I could hear them wailing. It was unbearable. They came inside and said their goodbyes.

My uncle and brothers made it home soon thereafter. My brothers were heartbroken that they were not there when our mom died. I was haunted that I had been there. It turns out our final good-byes did not matter. It was the life we had all shared together that did. And that could never be taken away from us.

 

Now we had to face the cruel reality that life, does indeed, go on. Without our mom. Like it or not. But we had each other and everything that our mom had instilled in us. And that’s how life went on. And continues to go on. Every damn day.

Saying goodbye is never easy. But it’s impossible to say goodbye to someone who is always going to be part of you.

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