When “It Goes By So Fast.” Grieving the Loss of Your Mom.

“It goes so fast,” my mom said forlornly, half looking at me, half looking down at my three-year-old son, her grandson. I knew she meant watching your children grow up. I knew she meant the amount of time that they would stay small, the amount of time that mothering looks like this. However, I brushed off the comment trying to focus on the now, trying to enjoy them while they are still small. Also, I was mostly all consumed with his autism diagnosis.

But, while I shifted my focus back to my kids, trying to enjoy them while they’re still small, I didn’t realize that the phrase “it goes so fast,” also referred to the amount of time my mother would be alive. Somewhere along life you get this notion that parents will always be there.

But “it goes so fast.” And when it’s gone, there’s no getting it back. There’s no filling that space. There’s nothing that makes it better. It doesn’t matter how many wrongs or rights ever happened between you and them. It just is never OK again.

Things are never the same again. Every moment that occurs moving forward that could be better at all with just an ounce of nurturing empathy and encouragement will scream in your face the need for your mother. And the realization that she isn’t there will kill you again, more than it did the day that she left.

It won’t matter that all the memories can’t be taken away, because no new memories can be shared or made.

You will die a little each time you remember these things.

I think of all the moments that don’t exist anymore. From the light in her eyes every time that she saw me enter the house. From when I came home from college, visited Florida from New York, or just came over from my house or after work.

I think of all the ways that we couldn’t get along.

All the things I couldn’t possibly get over from my childhood.

I think of all the times that I was angry, and upset, and wanted more from our relationship.

I think of all the times I went over to fill her medication.

All the phone calls I helped her make frantically to get urgent doctor’s orders for some of her conditions.

All the restaurants we ate at and vacations we took.

All the Christmases, birthdays, Mother’s Days past.

I think of all the things she couldn’t do with her body, for over a decade from diseases. I think of the weight she carried on her shoulders with her disability every single minute for years. Of the humility it took to have somebody help her with every personal detail of her life.

I think of how unfair that was and I want to scream that I couldn’t change it for her.

I think of all the times that I worried that her wheelchair was going to flip over, going up and down the van ramp, and how it’s better now, because in heaven there are no wheelchairs.

But that doesn’t really help, because it will never replace being in the same room as her again, or having to have ever seen it happen at all in the first place.

I think of how impossible it feels that she is gone. It can’t possibly make sense. It can’t possibly be true. It isn’t fair. It will never be OK.

I think of all the things I can never ask her again or tell her. All the decisions I will make without her.

And it will never be OK again. At least, not in the same way that it ever was before.

But other things can be OK.

Because, you can’t get stuck there in the not OK.

Because, you are still alive.

Because, there are still good things in the world.

Because, there are people who love you and who you love.

Because, there are people who are better off for knowing you and having you in their life.

Because, there are still wonderful people you haven’t met yet.

Because you getting through this is someone else’s hope that they can also.

Because, this isn’t the end of your story.

Because, the new you, the one who lives in the post loss of a mother world, is still important and needed.

So cry, yell, be angry, be sad, be overwhelmed with it all.

But then, find some moments to hold onto.

Find anything beautiful about today, and hold onto it.

And day by day, there is healing. There is recovery.

There is never the version of you that existed before.

But there is still beauty left in this world.

And you, my dear, are still alive.

Embrace the simultaneous pain and beauty of that and live.

You can be brave in the pain.

Piece by piece, you can find the bits and pieces of joy. And string them together, and live.

Mother’s Day- For the Mothers who Have Lost Their Mother.

Holidays like Mother’s Day tend to be really “loud” in society. Whether it be the sentimental commercials on TV, the “buy your mom the perfect gift” store displays, the social media posts, or just people you know talking about it as it nears. You will know about it coming.

Motherhood tends to be defined by all the love and tender care that we give our little ones from the very start. For many women, motherhood begins with a positive pregnancy test. For some women, it began years before that, when they first started trying to conceive, or even thought of becoming a mother.

Being a mother tests, builds, and redefines everything in you: your hopes and dreams, your fears, your self control, your patience, your love, your vulnerability, your ability to go days without a shower or sleep, in some cases your ability to spend days in the hospital and hear things you never imagined from doctors.

Motherhood typically evokes people to think of all those “firsts.” There is a first smile, first words, first steps, first friends, first day of school, first day driving, first day sleeping in their bed alone without waking up through the night.

Motherhood also, less commonly, evokes the feelings of the “lasts.” There will be the last day you drop off your child at school, because they are graduating and will be on their own moving forward, the last day you bring your child to a play date, the last time they wear all those cute little outfits as they outgrow them, the last time they come running to you to kiss their boo-boo. And, all these things are healthy, wonderful, and beautiful, though sometimes really difficult and painful. But all of these things are always filled with love at the core.

But, there’s a side to motherhood we don’t talk about much. That is, the side of watching your own mother do her lasts. No one talks much about watching your mom take her last steps, watching your mom use the bathroom independently for the last time, watching or helping her to eat her last meal, and hearing her say her last “I love you,” and then seeing her take her last breath. Nobody really likes to talk about the part of motherhood where your mom transcends to the end of her life. Yet we will likely all face it, assuming we outlive her.

And, if you’re lucky, the moments in the years will fill you for the rest of your life- long after the final moments in life have been taken.

I am not going to sugar coat it. This is reality. We all have an expiration date. And even though we are mothers, we are all also born from mothers. One day facing the news that they are no longer here to talk to, or call, or eat with, or shop with, or hold hands with, will change everything about you.

And you will have a choice to make, because you lost your mother. Because, you are still someone else’s mother. And all those milestones you watch your own children go through will make you remember your own milestones and your own mother. And you will have to dry the tears and you will have to keep on going. You will have to smile and give your own children all those moments that will live forever, since we know that none of us will.

And I doubt that it ever gets any easier in time, no matter how people say that time heals. Remember though, not being easier, doesn’t mean impossible. You see, you and I will find our way. And always having some pain over our deepest losses does not mean you can’t always also have happiness. Pain and hurt can, and often do, coexist with joy and gratitude. 

This simultaneous state, is often the price of love.

You will see your mom go from right in front of your face, to only in your mind and heart and go from the room you are in, to only there in photographs. You will see yourself go from having a person you ask all the questions to, to being the one having to answer them all on your own. I don’t imagine you can understand what this feels like, if you haven’t gone through it yourself.

And, if you relate to this, and if you are hurting today, I pray. I pray that you are able to take at least one moment today, and just simmer in the sweetness of all that still is. Take wonder in the moments between the tears of the pain, and deeply feel the joys and the love of who and for what remains. We are still mothers this Mother’s Day. And that will always be a blessing.

Undoubtedly, Mother’s Day changes, when you’re a mom who has lost her mom.

I encourage you still.

Though she’s gone, she’ll live: in the laughter that fills the air over something she used to find funny, in the smell that fills the kitchen of something you loved her cooking, in the way you choose to raise your children, in the way you receive and show love, when stories of her are spoken out loud, and in the lyrics of a song that will forever take you back to the place she created in you.

_______________________________________

My praise of the Lord

cannot be dependent

on getting what I want.

It must be dependent

on trusting who He is.