I truly believed that when her heart stopped beating, mine would stop at the same time. After all, in my entire life, our hearts had never not beat together. Through my entire life, we breathed the same air no matter how far apart we were physically. Yes, we fought. We were both stubborn. If my sky was blue, hers was green. My junior year of high school, we didn’t speak for three months, including Christmas Day. Looking back, I think it was the start of the major hormone shift that she went through. The summer before my senior year in college, she kicked me out of the house because my room wasn’t clean. Again, the hormones.
My mom died from ovarian cancer when I was 21, just two months after I graduated from college. She was diagnosed on Thanksgiving Day of my senior year in high school, but it was so advanced that there wasn’t much hope. It had already been there doing its damage for too long. The first part of my grief was that I lost a part of my mom the moment those tumors started taking over her body…I lost part of my best friend because she started becoming a different person in some ways.
I have so many memories…more than I can even think of. Popcorn while playing Scrabble. Long walks that I moaned and complained about every day. Shopping. Baking. Our mother daughter trip to Bar Harbor, Maine. All of the concerts and trips that she won on the radio. Dancing in the kitchen to Old Time Rock and Roll. And Metallica. Her kindness and her caring heart. Every new mom on the street had meals, balloons, and a teenager (me) to help them around the house, all thanks to my mom and her generous spirit and true love of others. Skiing. Running. She was my biggest cheerleader and my biggest critic. She let me try so many different things and she thought it was amazing that I had so many ideas, but she would never allow me to let them get me down because she knew they would then no longer be fun.
The strangest thing in all of this is that my mom has never known me in my entire adult life. I grieve that relationship daily. I am a motherless mother. Who do I call when I have a question about the girls? Or I want to know how to bake cookies the right way? What about when I’m just exhausted or overwhelmed and I want my mom? She loved babies and she would have absolutely adored her two granddaughters. I grieve for their lost relationship as well.
The most important thing that my mom taught me was joy and perseverance in the trials of life. She never complained while she was sick and she never gave up. She still gave fully of herself as much as she possibly could and she had a positive and cheerful attitude. I have no idea how she did it, but in my recent struggles, I know that as her daughter I need to carry on her legacy. I’m sure she had her moments of crying and desperation just like I do but she didn’t let the whole world know. Her closest friends tell me some of the things she talked to them about in her last months and so I know she was heartbroken over what was happening. I know she was especially heartbroken over me, her only daughter. Oh what I wouldn’t give for that to be different…for us to still be together…for both of us to be together with my daughters, her granddaughters.
Mothering is not the same without a mother of my own.