Six months ago today, my life completely changed forever.
I start a lot of my days with a little anxiety–it’s how I’m wired–but March 3rd, 2017, I had a whole bunch of anxiety. See, I was scheduled to turn in a ton of paperwork into my Bankruptcy attorney to hopefully start closing the door on the financial nightmare that I had worked myself into both separately and together with my former fiance, and I was plain old scared that things weren’t going to work out and I’d be trapped forever in a vicious cycle of working my tail off and being unable to keep my financial head above water. I arrived at the attorney’s office with my heart beating fast, a little ahead of schedule, so I sat in the waiting room for a few minutes.
And then, my cell phone rang, and my anxiety level jumped to level 20 when I saw who it was–my mom’s husband. He and I weren’t so much on “friendly, call-you-up-and-say-hi terms,” so I knew that something odd was happening when I saw his number flash on the screen of my phone. And I stepped outside for a moment and took his call, heard him ask if I’d had talked to my mom lately, heard him mention that he was working out of state and he hadn’t talked to her in “a while,” and I not-so-politely dismissed his concerns, told him I was busy and that I’d call him back.
And I went about my business. I continued with my meeting with the attorney and pushed his concern out of my mind. Just one of the many things that has haunted me all of these months later. (I. ME. MY. SELFISH. BUSY. SELF-CENTERED. All of it has echoed through my head and had to be prayed through and cried over, time and time again.) Obviously, in retrospect, it wouldn’t have changed anything at that point, but it’s crummy to know that once again I didn’t even stop my own agenda to consider that something may have been (and was) seriously wrong. I called him back later, and ended up sending the Rosemount PD over to check on my mom, as I had to go get the kiddos from school.
Those of you who know me the best, know the nitty gritty details about what transpired that afternoon and that night. Details that I won’t share here, not because I’m ashamed of them, but because that’s not what is important now. The gist is that my mama, who had been so very strong in the face of adversity time and time again her whole life–my whole life–had finally been so beat down, so exhausted by her anxiety, her depression, the sheer isolation and desperation she must have felt, ended her life.
So here I am, six months later.
Losing her has changed me in ways that I never knew that I would be changed. It’s broken me, in ways that I never imagined that I could feel broken–inexplicable ways, as though I’m a member of an elite club, and you can’t completely understand unless you’ve lost a parent yourself. It’s made me so deeply appreciate the gift of being a mother myself, and has made me grieve for being less than the mother my two younger kids deserve–and barely a mother at all to my oldest child. It’s left a giant hole somewhere in me, that I know will only be filled in glory when I see her face again, hear her laugh, see the sparkle in her green eyes. It’s made me sensitive in ways that I wasn’t before, where I might bust out laughing in the middle of a store when I hear a song that reminds me of her–or I might sob when I pick up the phone to tell her something and remember that she won’t answer. Conversely, It’s hardened me. It’s given me a sense of humor that is a little twisted, a little off kilter that I probably need to reel in a little. I’ve lost parts of my childhood–the inside jokes that don’t mean anything to anyone besides the two of us, the memories that were made with just us to witness the events. I’ve lost my biggest cheerleader, my biggest fan, and my hugest critic all in one. My favorite comfort food? Gone forever. She truly was my very best friend.
I swear I catch a glimpse of her red hair in my rearview mirror from time to time and it makes me smile. I always tell her she doesn’t have to sit in my back seat (LOL). I have a deeper appreciation for the music that she played at top volume when I was growing up, for the movies we watched together. I am managing my own physical and mental health better than every before to ensure that I will NEVER leave my daughter (or son) earlier than I absolutely have to. I will live every day of the rest of my life PROUD that I am her daughter, that her blood courses through my veins. I will fulfill my dreams and her dreams for me. I will press on, because that is exactly what she would have wanted for me. She was a fighter, and I am too. I will keep reminding myself that this ISN’T my fault, that NOBODY could have prevented this, and I will continue to be a good nurse, a good advocate for mental health and substance abuse and a voice for those who don’t have one. I will live my life, be open to love, and continue to be SO very thankful for my kids and my AMAZING friends who will stand in the gap for me when things get hard and I feel alone. I will continue to thank God for my mom’s life, for bringing me into this world through her and with her as my mama, my role model, my friend–and I thank Him for all the ways He has protected me, provided for me and guided me along these rocky six months and pray that He will continue to do so. I am beyond lucky to have grown super close with my dad throughout this time, and I know that it’s never too late to form bonds with those in our families that we haven’t always been very close with.
I will always miss my mom, of this I’m certain. And I know that some of the time it will be easier on me than others–it will ebb and flow. But my mama was in mental pain here on this Earth, and I know that she is at absolute peace in the arms of Jesus–which gives me a comfort that outweighs any pain that her absence could cause. And someday, she’ll be waiting for me when it’s time to come Home.