This week marked five years since my mother passed away and I’ve found myself thinking a lot about her. Naturally I’ve missed her, but more than simply missing my mother I’ve missed the person who really helped me hold it together when times were tough and who, ultimately, held my entire family together.
When my mom passed away on Dec. 28, 2005, it had come after a whirlwind month of illness we had not expected. She had struggled off and on with melanoma, a vicious, almost unstoppable cancer that had plagued her for a few years. In September of 2005 doctors told her she had no signs of cancer. In November, just before Thanksgiving, she became ill.
A visit to the hospital confirmed our worst fears: the melanoma was back and it could not be stopped this time. It was just a matter of time — about a month doctor’s estimated.
It’s hard to watch someone die, even more so when it is someone you love. All I could think about was growing up, mom raising me alone after my father died when I was 14, the bond we shared in those years. She had gotten so much joy from her grandchildren, she loved to travel, loved her trips to the casino and Bingo night.
She was loving, caring, compassionate, tough and knew the importance of family. Seeing her dying, I knew that not only would she soon be gone from my life, but with her all those things that made her who she was. At times when she was dying I could not be there because it was too painful to watch. For that I feel guilty because I should have been with her as often as I could.
It’s been difficult for me to let go. Her death plunged me deeper into my own despair, my own issues I was dealing with at the time. Mom’s death also left the family fragmented, which made me see just how she had been the glue that held our lives together.
It has been five long years of trying to move on, of learning to no longer rely on mom, but instead on what she tried to teach us growing up. Mom is no longer there to talk to about my problems. I have to look inside now and ask myself what she would want, what she would say —
what she would expect. In death, knowing she is above looking down, she may have had a stronger influence on me than she did in life. It took that and the support of loved ones to pull me out of the quicksand I got myself into after mom died, but I have persevered.
And while not all of what became broken after mom died is fixable, life has gone on and some days it seems a little easier. For many of us, parents are sometimes the only constant in our lives and when they are gone it’s like being in free-fall — sometimes we land OK, other times the parachute doesn’t open.
When mom is no longer there to be the glue, you have to make that glue from what you should have learned while she was alive. Sometimes it doesn’t stick real well, but it gets the job done.
I miss you mom. Thank you for having always been my glue. I’m sorry for the mistakes I’ve made and I hope someday I will see you again. I love you. Bye.