“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.