You Never "Get Over" Losing a Loved One: Remembering my Mom
As I celebrated my twenty-first birthday nearly two months ago, a persistent sense of sadness lingered in my subconscious. I'm currently studying abroad in Milan, Italy and enjoying some of the best times of my life. I'm beyond privileged to explore new places, meet people from all over the globe, and immerse myself in unfamiliar cultures, each unique and inspiring in their own ways. However, I can't help but think, I wish I could tell her about all of this.
When I was eleven, my family experienced an unexpected tragedy; My mother, the central figure of our household, passed away without warning from an undiagnosed heart condition. One minute, we were planning for a future we always expected, and the next, we were shattered- picking up any pieces of normalcy that remained. Today would be her fifty-third birthday. Almost ten years have passed since I've heard my mother's voice, or delighted in her embrace. I still think about her every single day.
My mom celebrated moments that would seem insignificant to some. I distinctly remember an instance she started tearing up while shopping at one of her favorite department stores at the time, Marshall Field's (the root of my love for fashion). I asked her why she was upset, and she responded that she had forgotten my half-birthday, a date we celebrated each year with small gifts and a home-made cake. I wouldn't have even noticed if she hadn't mentioned it. She always went above and beyond to make my brothers and me feel loved.
In my experience, grief has no timeline or expiration date. It's different for everyone and avoided by few. Navigating adolescence without my mom to guide me was challenging to say the least, but these days, I live a relatively well adjusted, "normal" life. Though I've matured and learned to cope with my circumstances, I'll never be miraculously healed or completely whole again. As strange as it sounds, I wouldn't want to be. My mom established the foundation for who I am today, and I wouldn't trade our time together for the world.
Grief can seem hopeless and dark, but in reality, the experience goes hand in hand with love. By loving others, we make ourselves unbelievably vulnerable to a world of hurt and despair, yet in the face of adversity, we continue to love.
Most cannot empathize with the experience of losing a parent at a young age, nor would I want them to, but we can all work towards supporting those going through hardships we ourselves do not understand. When in doubt, be kind and listen; it goes a long way.
Thank you to everyone who has supported my family throughout the years. My mom was an incredible woman who continues to guide and inspire me. Happy birthday, my angel.