FEATURE – I saw a tear roll down his cheek. It was one of the few times I had ever seen my father cry. He met me in her hospital doorway. I was clinging to the hope of a miracle with every last fiber of my being. In a whisper, almost as if my father could not force the words to come out, he said: “She won’t be coming home.”
My legs felt as if they would give under the weight of my body. My heart sank. My father’s words left me speechless and paralyzed. My body wanted to collapse right there in the doorway but I had to stay strong. I had to be strong for her the way that she had always been strong for me.
My weak legs made their way to her bedside. I grabbed my mother’s hand and she turned to me. She couldn’t speak with her voice but she didn’t need to – we had always been so close we could have an entire conversation with just our eyes or a mere glance in each other’s direction. Tears ran down our faces. She was in so much pain and she was so scared to die.
As the end grew near, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a roller coaster of emotions. I was watching her die before my very eyes, and there was nothing I or anyone else could do about it. It felt as though my own body was shutting down along with hers. I felt helpless and powerless.
So … I did the only thing I knew to do: I laid down beside her on her hospital bed and I held her. I held her the way that she had held and comforted me when I was scared or in pain.
My mom died that night, just two months short of her 62nd birthday. And that night I lost my mentor, my hero, my very best friend … my mother.
My most cherished friend in the whole world had left me. She hadn’t just left me, she had died. And she hadn’t just left me without a mother, she had left an entire family of souls, lost the minute she left this Earth.
I knew there would be tremendous grief but I had no idea how much confusion, disorientation, and fear my family would go through. When you lose somebody you love, life becomes painful beyond words, and regaining your balance and finding any sort of peace can be tricky.
One minute your loved one is here, holding your hand, breathing the same air we all breath, and then they’re gone in the amount of time it takes to take a breath. In a moment of such great loss, you imagine that your tears will flood the room and that your wailing will shake the walls. Yet, I merely sat down next to her body and let my fingers trace the line of her already cooling, gentle hands.
As crippling and heart-wrenching as it was, I remember instructing myself that I would not break. I had, after all, made her a promise less than an hour prior that I would be strong and that I would be okay. A promise made after sensing a cry for help come from within my mother as she lay in her hospital bed wanting to speak, but her mind and body were held hostage by her illness.
My mother’s suffering was now over, but mine was only truly just beginning. A frostbitten numbness descended on me as I thought about how I would tell my tender children that their grandmother was now an angel. There is nothing beautiful about a moment like this. It is as devastating and difficult as one may expect.
My mother and two little girls had an exceptional bond. I knew the ache my children’s hearts would suffer. Finding the right words was not necessary with my 9-year-old. She could read the words right off my pale, grief stricken face. Time stood still as we embraced and rocked each other back and forth. Telling my 6-year-old was not as simple. Trying to answer all of her detailed questions, including why Grandma had to die days before Christmas and her birthday, seemed an impossible feat.
I needed time alone. The loss of my mother knocked the wind out of me and I needed a place to breathe again. A place to break down and let my emotions run freely. A place to find relief and to steady my emotions. I wanted a private place to talk to my mom and a place to listen for her. I got in my car and I drove. Not knowing where I would go. It was as if my vehicle was being led in a particular direction. It was only 15 minutes later that I found myself on a hillside. I parked my car and got out.
To my astonishment, every direction I turned, as far as I could see, was breathtaking. Beauty was all around me. Even though it was winter, I was surrounded by an endless array of colors. It was calm, quiet, serene, and peaceful; everything I was longing for. I said a quiet prayer of thanks.
I quickly spotted a large lava rock on the edge of the hillside. It was cleared of any debris, inviting me to sit. I sat down and marveled at the amazing vantage point this enormous, yet simple, black boulder offered me. The unsurpassed view of rolling mountains, hundreds of thousands of years in the making, seeming to burst out of the horizon, left me in a state of awe. The hillside offered me a feeling of climatic calmness as I watched two beautiful, black birds glide freely and gracefully through the brilliant, blue sky. The birds made me think of how peaceful my mom must have felt as she left behind her fragile, cancer ridden body and flew free towards the gates of Heaven. Now standing in God’s glory and embraced by his love.
As I sat there on that ancient rock, I began to find peace and tranquility and a source of inspiration. As part of me shut down the night my mother died, another part of me was opening up. Though nothing can prepare someone for the scars left on their heart by the tragedy of losing a loved one, I began to understand how these tragedies can open our eyes as well as our hearts. As we open our hearts to God, to life, and to others, we recognize the beauty in all that surrounds us and we begin to fill that gaping hole that was left by the loss.
It has been three years since my mother’s passing, and at times I continue to struggle to regain my footing. There are moments when I slip and fall, but the strength of my mother’s love prevents me from completely falling into a hole of darkness, depression, and misery. I’ve learned to share my grief with the wind as I sit atop that hillside. There is a lot that can be learned from nature and a comfort that can be felt. In the silence, as clear as crystal and as if she were right behind me, I’ve heard my mother call my name. The comfort it brings me is as whole and pure as if she had never left.
It comforts me to know that someday my mother will be waiting for me at the time that I too, shall fly free from my Earthly body. Envisioning her heart-warming smile and the feeling of her warm and loving embrace at the time of our reunion, puts a smile on my face.
Though I’m not sure that a lifetime is long enough to fully recover from losing someone you love, or if the pain of losing my mom will ever subside, the last three years have given me time to discover a powerful inner strength that I previously never knew existed. I am comforted with a strong sense that my mother will always remain with me and continue to be a guiding light for my family and me.
I still miss her every single day. We had an unbreakable bond and words are inadequate to express the love I carry in my heart for my precious mom. If I am half the mother to my own children that my mom was to me, I will have succeeded greatly.
Submitted by St. George News Reporter Kimberly Scott
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