Seven years ago today, for a few moments, my entire world stopped spinning.
After bravely fighting stage 4 lung cancer, my mom’s courageous battle finally ended. She was free of the suffering she had relentlessly endured during her countless rounds of radiation, chemo and other procedures. On March 15th, 2016, she died. My mom, the person who created me from the cells of her own body, died.
With each year that has passed since her death, I have grieved her loss differently. When I met my husband, I mourned the fact that she would never know I found my ‘person.’ When I took a leap of faith to pursue my dream of working for the UN, I was gutted that she would never see my accomplishments. And now that I am myself a mother, the pain of knowing she will never meet her grandson is…indescribable.
When I was pregnant, I couldn’t call her when I was experiencing bizarre symptoms to ask if she thought it was normal. She would never plan a baby shower or purchase any tiny, adorable clothes for my son. I can’t ask her about her labor with me, how she felt about my birth or the destabilizing weeks of early motherhood — I can’t ask her anything at all.
But I can take the best memories I have of her and blend them into my own little family. I can put up cheesy decorations for every holiday and take too many pictures. I can pour hours of energy (that I usually don’t have) into making my son’s baby scrapbook as detailed and thoughtful as it possibly can be. So that one day, in case I’m not around for him to ask, he will know the answers to all of these questions and more.
In the days leading up to my mom’s death, a volunteer came into her hospital room and offered to sing a song and play the guitar for us. I chose “You are my sunshine” and gently held her hand as we listened to this song together for the last time.
Seven years later, every night before my son falls asleep, I now sing the very same song while I cradle him in my arms. I smile as his little body falls limp at the comfort of our nightly tradition, a sacred moment between a mother and her child.
Seven years have not erased the pain of her loss, but they have taught me to find a new kind of appreciation for the phenomenon that is motherhood. She was not perfect, and neither am I — but I know she gave it all she had. I can’t ask for anything more.