Today marks one year since my mom passed away, and what a year it has been. So much has happened all over the spectrum. There was so much change and so many tears. A few priceless memories and several painful memories.
I remember the especially traumatic events used to replay in my mind in order of appearance in my life and haunt me. And when those memories weren’t playing, the guilt was. There were so many things that I wished I would have done. None of them would have saved her, but I wished I had done them anyway.
Leaving all that behind me hasn’t been easy. I want to get to the point where my happy memories hit me first. She wouldn’t want me to be haunted by painful memories. She loved me and was an incredible source of comfort to me and that’s how she deserves to be remembered.
My favorite memories aren’t anything particularly exciting. Just spending time together and laughing, mostly. I miss her laugh and her making me laugh. One day, in the hospital, she was about to go down for some sort of scan. The guy that always came to get her had only met me, but this time my dad and my brother were also there. He asked my mom who everyone was and she gestured to us and said, “My daughter, Kasey, My son, Bryant,” and finally she points to my dad (keep in mind, my parents were divorced) and says, “baby daddy.” Everyone in the room busted out laughing. I think that was the last hearty laugh we had, the four of us together.
I think what I miss even more, is having that extra person on my side unconditionally. It is such a profound loss, not just because of what she did for me in my life but because she gave me life. She didn’t have to keep me safe in her tummy for 7 months. When the doctors wanted to refuse to tie her tubes because they thought I was going to die, she knew in her heart that I am a fighter and I wasn’t going to give up so easily.
She always fought for me and she was always proud of me. I don’t know many other people’s moms that would walk around bragging that their daughter is a bartender…but mine did. Annoyingly so, sometimes. Anyone that ever came to the house, I just HAD to make them a drink. I just HAD to make hors d’oeuvres. I hated it, but I know now that she just wanted everyone else to see what she saw in me. She wanted me to see what she saw in me.
Yes, that’s what I miss most. She was one of only a handful people in my life that went out of her way to make an effort to make me feel like I was important and that I deserve great things, you know? Our relationship wasn’t perfect, but when it came down to it, she put in the time. Even if she was exhausted she would pick up my calls at 3 a.m. to let me vent about work. Every time. I miss her so much.
I had a bond with my mom that I have very rarely seen in other mother daughter relationships or been able to relate to anyone else about. When I was a little kid, I was always right next to her. I can’t remember ever going through a time where I was embarrassed by her mere existence, as most teenagers tend to be. I held my mom’s hand in public until I was 27 years old. She was my best friend and even though I am not religious, I know that it was no accident that we were placed together in this life.
I can’t say that I will be celebrating my mom’s life today. I think it’s too soon, I am still mourning her loss. I can, however, celebrate how far I’ve come since that day. I was sure that I had hit my threshold for emotional pain after the funeral. But the bad news just kept coming.
If it had only been my mom, I think it would have been easy to let grief completely take me over. But my brother and best friend were fighting for survival and, even though I was completely broken, I had to get up and fight for them too. They are worth fighting for.
I would have never thought that in the process I would learn so much about my character. The difference between what I think I can handle and what I can actually handle is far greater than I previously thought. I think I have grown more as a person in this last year than I had in the previous 3, combined.
All that and my own personal safety net was gone during all of it. I know that my mom would’ve liked to see the two big passions that have come out of my experiences. For one, I love to cook, which I never did before. While I will admit I had to start cooking out of necessity for my brother, it really turned into a hobby that I throw myself in to.
Second, my mom always said this one phrase to me, from one of her favorite songs. I thought it was so cheesy and I always rolled my eyes whenever she said it. She always said, “I hope you dance, Kasey. I always loved watching you dance.” I quit dance to become a full-time cheerleader when I was thirteen, so it just sounded ridiculous to me. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I started going to one dance class at my gym and now dance seems to be slowly taking over my life. I forgot how much I liked it and now I go to anywhere from 3-8 classes a week. Who knew? Mom did, of course.
Maybe she’s watching me dance, but honestly, I hope she’s dancing herself– with her dad, brothers, friends and, as of April 2, 2012 her mom.
Rest in peace, Mom. It’s been a year since you left and I think of something you taught me everyday. I know that I am who I am today because of you and I’ll continue to miss you every day until I see you again.