I was twenty-eight when I said goodbye to my mother for the last time. I held her hand and watched her take her last breath. I felt like I must have said I love you a million times; in reality, I probably said it once or twice. That moment is forever etched in my mind and is not one I willingly dwell on. And understandably so, because that memory carries the echo of shattered dreams and an uncertain future. Everything I knew to be certain about my life was replaced by a question mark. It was also the moment I grew up. All illusions of childhood innocence were gone. Sure, we think ourselves as grown up and independent, but when the person you relied on more than anyone else is gone, the umbilical cord is broken and we’re truly, finally on our own. I tell myself how fortunate I was to have twenty-eight years with the world’s best mama, that others only had one year or twelve, and some never met the person who gave them life. But these sentiments, although they come from a good place, provide very little comfort. Instead, they remind me of the experiences I’ll recall without Mother at my side. Memories like weddings, grandchildren, holidays, travel adventures…but mostly, it’s the little things I miss more than anything. I miss impromptu dinners or shopping trips, spa days, little encouraging cards or e-mails, small gestures to say I’m thinking of you. I miss buying gifts for her and hearing her say I love you. No relationship is perfect and there were times when we personified the tempestuous mother/daughter stereotype. Yet, like so many others, I would gladly trade this future for one with my mother, even if it includes stubborn disagreements and a frustration or two.
It’s been fifteen months since my mother passed away, and I’m still not sure what a future without her looks like. Some days I’m okay with this reality and some days it feels like hell. What I do know is I want to make her proud. I don’t want to live with regret. I want to cherish the moments of joy and learn to laugh at myself. I want to take chances and not be afraid to venture into the unknown. I want memory making to be a priority because that’s what life is made of. In the words of the brilliant Marvin Hamlish, “So it’s the laughter / we will remember / when we remember the way we were.” So, Happy Mother's Day to my mama. Even though she's no longer on this earth, I continue to honor the woman she was and pray I carry on her legacy of goodness, compassion, generosity, and love. She is truly the best person I've ever known, and I will never, ever stop loving her. XO.