“Having faith in the Lord means also having faith in His timing”. A friend, who also lost her mom, gave me this quote. She said, remind yourself of this every day. Have faith that this was the path you had to walk in your life.
When my mom passed away, I was looking everywhere and to everyone for answers to why this happened. I never got any. Today, almost 6 years later, I still haven’t. My family and friends would tell me, it’s just part of life. I heard repeatedly, “Joann, everyone is going to die.” Although, yes, I understood that, it didn’t really give me the answer I was looking for. I wanted an affinitive answer to my question. It’s complicated, life and death. It’s not as simple, as the answers I was given. Eventually, I just stopped looking for the answers. What was the point?
I love Christmas and my mom loved Christmas. We spent our last Christmas together two days before she passed away. I often wondered if she knew that would be our last Christmas together. She was so quiet that day. My husband and I brought our boys to see her that morning. I tried to bring them to see her as often as I could. As we unwrapped her gifts, she would acknowledge with a nod and wide eyes. She didn’t talk much. The one thing I remember the most is her reading the Christmas card from the boys. I swear, she was studying every single inch and word of that card. She took her time, making sure she looked at every picture intensely. I almost felt as though she was memorizing every word, maybe realizing it was her last Christmas.
Grief is defined as deep sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death. I’ve struggled with writing this post for the last two years because I didn’t want to be a “debbie-downer” during the holidays. However, the holidays are the very reason I am writing this. Maybe it’s just mental therapy for myself or maybe there is someone out there who will read this and get it.
I watched my mom take her last breath. On December 27th, 2013, my journey through grief began. The experience has forever changed me. It’s such a surreal moment. It’s like watching a train wreck and knowing there is nothing you can do to stop it. I will never forget that night. I couldn’t believe that it was happening. It was like having an out-of-body experience. I could look around the room, see my dad, my sister, my aunt and uncle – and my mom just lying there leaving us forever. I remember looking over at my sister, hysterical crying as the nurse tried to console her. I remember touching my mom’s hair and telling her, “It’s okay,” while deep inside I was screaming, “Please don’t go.” My dad had his head down. And, during all of this, the social worker continued to tell me, “It’s okay, you’re doing good.”
After she passed, I didn’t know quite what to do with myself. My dad and my aunt were fussing over the rosary beads she was holding in her hands. The nurses were still consoling my sister as I cried uncontrollably. I had no control that night, no control over anything that was happening around me. I relived that moment every night for almost two years. A friend told me that when someone you love dies, it’s like there is a wall in front of you. As the years go by, little by little the wall pushes to the side. For me, I would describe it more like living in a box. Occasionally, the box will lift from the bottom and you can see a light. There are days the box opens very little and then there are days, when the box is gone. I guess that’s how it will be from now on and it’s okay. I’m learning to just go with it.
Grief is such a difficult emotion to go through. The next several days, or should say months, after my mom’s passing, I didn’t know what I was doing. I did my best to get through that time. I had my boys and they needed their mommy. It wasn’t easy. I wasn’t always my best self. I thought about sharing more about those days on my blog, but it’s difficult to write about it. We will see.
If you recently lost someone you love, I’m so sorry. Walking through grief during the holidays is a difficult one. My only advice is to seek help if realize you are having a difficult time coping. I joined an online counseling community for children who have lost their parents to cancer. That may have been the one thing I did that was truly helpful. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share my story or listen to anyone else’s. But I did find it helpful to know there were other people going through the same emotions and could relate to how I was feeling at that moment.
I’m going to end this with something my mom had written to my boys in a letter for the time capsules we created for their first birthday,
“With God by your side, all things are possible.”