My mother passed away from metastatic breast cancer on January 8, 2014. Two weeks later, I became pregnant with my son, and I know that he was my miracle baby – her last gift to me, and my life preserver from the grief in which I was drowning.
That day seems like both yesterday and a million years ago. I am simultaneously happy for all of the time that we did get to have together and tremendously sad that she is not here to spoil her grandchildren and show them the kind of love that she gave to me. Some days are harder than others. I get bitter sometimes – why should my mom be taken so early when people are doing evil things in the world that are allowed to live? I try not to let the bitterness to linger for too long.
After six years, the sadness, though an ever-present companion, walks a little further behind me now. I can breathe a little easier, and there are days when I do not feel its presence at all. And then there are times when I am seemingly enveloped in its weight – suddenly and wholly. I am brought to a standstill. I feel almost guilty of neglect as if the sadness is a thing to be nurtured and cared for because it is my reminder of her.
After six years, sadness has another companion that follows me wherever I go. The gratitude I feel for having been loved by her is the presence that walks nearest to my heart. And the part of her that lives inside of her grandson is the strongest and brightest companion of all.
Today, I embrace sadness, because I am reminded that I’ve lived the last six years without her and that she has another grandchild that will be here in a few weeks and not get a chance to know the wonder of Mom firsthand. Tomorrow, I’ll embrace the joy of all the years of my life that we got to share.
For anyone who has lost someone that they love, whether it’s been twenty years or twenty days, allow the sadness to accompany you. It is honest and powerful and should not be ignored. But choose to nourish the gratitude instead. Maybe that’s not possible right now. But eventually, it will be.