After I lost my mom, I naturally struggled with a lot of things. There were the small things such as what to do with her clothes (which are still in bags, in storage) and what to do with her contact information in my phone (still there, the first person listed in my Favorites). But then there were the big things. There were struggles that all stemmed from the same overarching question: How do I continue living my life without her?
For a while, I was the textbook definition of grieving. My appetite and my mood swung back and forth like a pendulum. I went through all the stages of grief, again and again. I couldn’t judge who I would be from one day to the next. It was as if some nights, when I finally let my restless head hit the pillow, that I could actually feel my heart shattering inside my chest.
I had average days, bad days, and some really bad days. I refrain from using good as a descriptor here because the truth is, it wasn’t until I hit what I feel was my rock bottom that I started to come up for air.
My mom was always my first phone call on a rough day. She was my supporter and my secret keeper. She was my punching bag and my sounding board. She was there for every moment of my life and then suddenly, without warning, she was not. Up until this point, my mom helped me with my decision-making. As much as I had tried to push her words aside, especially during my teenage years, I was influenced by her thoughts and dependent on her validation.
To put it simply, the biggest struggle for me by far was living my life without her input. Every decision I made, I asked myself what my mom would do or say. I tried to mimic the conversations we had so many times before. I stared at the clock and waited for 11:11, only to make another wish. I spoke softly into my pillow, begging for me to visit me as I slept and tell me something, anything.
I do believe in signs. I do believe in dreams. I do believe in angels and spirit guides and the messages the universe sends us when we need them most. But unfortunately, the magic answers I needed didn’t come in the way I had expected them.
When I hit my lowest point, it was then that I realized it was time for me to face those big things, and it was time for me to do it on my own. Prior to this, I viewed pain and happiness as polar opposites, two mortal enemies who could not live in the same house. Although it took time, I learned that my loss and my grief would pave the way to my happiness.
It started with a newfound confidence that brought me to a calmness that I had not felt in several months. I started to put myself first and live life in the way I thought was going to be the best for me. It was here that I realized those signs I craved so desperately had been there, just in a different way.
My mom taught me a lot of things, but she could never teach me how to live without her.
Her silence on the other side forced me to grow and change and make my own decisions. I started to bloom again from the seeds that she had spent 26 years planting.
I know now that loss carves us into different people, bruising us and leaving behind invisible battle wounds. Our broken hearts, every crack in every little piece, are what make us into the people we are. But if we let it, those cracks can let the light in again. Without the hurt, the happiness would never follow.