Five years ago to the day (August 20, 2014) my world changed. Well, too be fair it had already changed, but on this day the foundation for my new normal was poured and several weeks later it was solidified. This also marks the day of the beginning of my journey of self discovery. I didn’t know it at the time, and up until a few days ago I would have told you it didn’t start until sometime in 2015, but in reality it was on this day. This was the day my mom chose to tell my dad and me, and then later family and friends, that she was done with chemotherapy. Though she didn’t know the hour of her death, she had chosen her path.
I was angry and sad all rolled into one. Why was this happening to her? I went through all of the stages of grief and then when I thought I had emerged sometime later, feeling I had been through all of my grief, I did something I didn’t realize I did, I latched onto Sis Laura and without realizing it, turned her into pseudo mom of sorts. I think I looked to her to heal my guilt over feeling like I wasn’t a better daughter to my mom. I suppose many of us carry that guilt. “I should have visited more when she was healthy”, “I should have…” done this or that or the other, but truth is, I wasn’t a bad daughter. Did I see my mom as often as I could have? No, but I didn’t love her any less. Mom was busy being retired and I was busy being a social butterfly, a chip off the old block.
My journey has not been for the faint of heart and I have blogged about it quite a bit here and on my old (now silent) blogging site, but this is the end of that journey. This last weekend the journey that began with my mama’s passing, ended with my realization that I had never fully handled her passing, instead I projected my guilt and loss onto my bestfriend who is like a soul sister to me.
I am a believer in signs, say what you will, but my brain was churning out thoughts of my mama left and right last week. She was interacting with me in my dreams, talking to me, etc, but I couldn’t understand why I was dreaming about her so much. I mean I didn’t mind, but it was gnawing at me, so on Friday, while chatting with Sis Laura, who I refer to lovingly as “Sibling”, it finally dawned on me that my reluctance to move on from my journey was that I was afraid of losing someone else in my life, but Sibling isn’t dying, so it continued to gnaw at me for a few more days.
At long last, on Sunday night while laying in bed it dawned on me, I wasn’t afraid of going off to live my life because I didn’t want to leave Sibling behind, I was afraid to go off and live my life, because while I was living my life in 2014, my mom turned up ill half way through the year and died four months later. All of the that living I had done before she was diagnosed, kept me from spending more time with her. I was afraid of letting go of my mom, so I just refocused on someone else.
I got up and journaled this out. I had to let go of my guilt once and for all, and I had to hurdle the very last, and very well hidden, roadblock (my version of emotional obstacles that hold us back from continually evolving). I realized I was doing what my parents wanted me to do, I was out there living my life. That doesn’t mean I loved my mom any less (or even my dad now), it just means that we all have lives.
I texted with my parents everyday, and still send my dad good morning texts, but we have separate lives and I needed to remember that the woman who squeezed my big head out of her after 24hours+ labor, didn’t stop loving me, because I didn’t see her all of the time, no, she was proud of my independence. She encouraged it. I should probably call my dad more (we’re both not big on phone calls, but funny enough, once you get us going it’s hard to stop us. LOL), but I do see him, just as I would see both of my parents, when mom was still alive. We didn’t need a reason, we would just visit.
I had taken my grief and turned it into fear. It took me quite a long time to understand this, but along this journey I learned my strength. I learned I have had it all of this time, through my ups and downs with my dinged up mental health, through the painful memories that used to trigger events, I have faced these challenges, sometimes with grace and sometimes with a fury that would send me spiraling into a depression, but here I am today, on somewhat solid ground ready to see where the next journey takes me.
I can finally say, after five years, that this journey is pressed into the books, the memories and lessons I have picked up along the way, having made an impression on me and reminding me that life is meant to be lived, not worried about. Sometimes you just have to see where the wind blows you and trust that everything is going to be okay.
Don’t be afraid to live, because life is meant to be an adventure.