The moment I heard my mom’s favorite song on the radio and didn’t change the channel, I knew something had changed. It had been over ten years, and until that day, any time I heard her song, I either vacated the room, turned the TV off, or switched stations. It was the one she forced me to learn on the piano. The one she sang horribly off-key every single day of her life. The song we played at her funeral. The one that I absolutely refused to listen to because it brought up feelings so painful that I just couldn’t deal. And then, one day, those negative feelings were gone.
I sat in my car and for the first time in over a decade, listened the entire way through. I didn’t cringe, or cry, or want to run away. For the first time, I heard her song as a tribute, instead of a curse or a painful reminder. It was still a reminder, but one I wanted. In that moment, I finally felt free.
Life without my mother has not been easy, and even as the years passed by, it never seemed to get any easier like people swore to me it would. It never hurt less. It never faded away. I held on to the sadness surrounding her death because she was supposed to get better. Because I was so young when she left me. Because I had so many questions that would never be answered. Because she’d never get to see me get married, or meet her grandchildren, or be there for a 3am phone call from me when I needed her for any reason or no reason at all. She was just gone. I was angry about all that I had to miss out on that everyone else got and took for granted. I was angry about all that she had to miss out on that everyone took for granted. I was angry at myself for taking her for granted, and not taking her for granted all at the same time. Mothers Days were miserable, even once I had my own kids, because I had no mother. Her birthdays and holidays nearly killed me because I had to watch everyone else celebrate while I was left with nothing.
But I didn’t have nothing. I had everything. I had her. I just didn’t know it. And sitting there, in the car, listening to her song without changing the channel. Without feeling the pain of her loss. Without thinking of all the things we’d never get to do, I realized I wasn’t angry anymore. I didn’t need to be. The grief I constantly felt over losing her had finally given way to the love I felt over the time we did have, and all the memories we shared.
It wasn’t some magical flip of a switch. It wasn’t because a certain amount of time had passed. Losing my mother will never be something I am okay with. I’m not. It’s not okay. It didn’t get easier with time. It wasn’t because the pain faded away. It was because I realized that, although I lost my mom, I didn’t lose her at all. Although she isn’t here with me, I always have her. I feel her here all the time, and not just through a song.
Being angry over losing her was consuming. Of my mind, my heart, my spirit. It may have been because I missed her, but it caused me to miss out on so much more. It wasn’t doing her justice, and it certainly wasn’t doing my life justice, and it wasn’t what she would have wanted for me.
Losing a parent, a family member, a love–someone so close to you that they are a part of you– it never gets easier. Not with time. Not with acceptance. Not through tears or anger. People will try to comfort you to tell you that it will, that you’ll “get over it”–and they mean well, but it’s not true. You won’t get over it. I’ll never get over it. But I realize now that I don’t have to. There is no getting over loss, and that’s okay. THAT is the realization that changed my life. That helped me let my grief go, and let the love without pain back in. Even if I’m sad. Even if I’m angry. Even if I think it’s unfair- I’m not punishing myself over it anymore, and that’s exactly what I was doing. I was hanging on to the grief because I thought that was what I was supposed to feel, forever. It seemed wrong not to- but I was wrong. The advice was wrong. my brain was wrong.
I listen to her song now, and I don’t feel pain anymore. I feel HER. It used to be something I went out of my way to avoid, but now, I turn the radio up, sit back, and for those few minutes, feel her sitting beside me, singing offkey at the top of her lungs, yelling at me to play along on the piano. I still feel sad, I still miss her, but more than anything, I feel love. Love always wins.
Grab a copy of my new book- KIDS ARE TURDS– on Amazon or in your local bookstore today!
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