I forgive you, Mom

“I will never leave you, Mom.”

“I know, Vandie.  You never have.”

It wasn’t long after that exchange of promise and appreciation that my friend, Vandie’s mom, passed away.

Funny how no matter how much you do – how much you try – how much you care… it just doesn’t seem to be enough when a loved one passes away.  Why are we riddled with guilt?  Someone asked me once, a long time ago, why I felt so guilty when my Mom passed away?  The question kind of took me aback.  I thought everyone had that feeling – the feeling that they just could have done better.  The feeling that if they had done something differently – well – maybe “she” wouldn’t have passed away.  It is not logical, but it is human.  And it is all about caring.  And it is all about loss, grief, love.

My friend Vandie is no different.  I seem to be, these days, re-living my Mom’s death through her mom’s death.  Things I had forgotten about how I felt have been re-kindled.  And even more strange – I am glad to have these feelings come back – it seems to bring my Mom closer to me.

There is nothing nice about death and loss.  Nothing.  It is hard.  It is painful.  I wish I could simply “let go” of the hurt – but I can’t.  I work at forgiving her for leaving me.  I was so mad that she left me.  Weird.  At nearly 50, I felt abandoned.  Why would anyone need to be forgiven for dying?  Just sounds strange.  But – that’s what I needed to do.  I still work on forgiving her for leaving me.

I do not want this feeling of hurt for my children.  That in itself is a powerful motivator for me to fight this cancer.  Every step I take, weight I lift, oar I pull is to prepare for the fight – which I don’t even know I’ll have to have at this point.  Death sucks.

After it’s over, though, there is a strange calm that descends.  For me – time slowed down just a bit.  The roses smelled slightly sweeter.  I hugged harder, prayed more, and laughed louder.  I lived for my Mom – who was not able to.

Mom admired the green of the trees.  Now, I do too.

Mom felt joy in the laughter of children.  Now, I do too.

Mom loved to cook big meals to celebrate.  Now, I do too.

She may have left her own body, but sure as heck, she did not leave mine.  “What will I do without you Mom?”  I remember asking her.

“I will always be with you, Stacey, in your heart.”

And sure as rain, she is.

There is still not a day that goes by that I don’t think of my Mom.  And, of course, the same with my Dad.  They were special people to me – and remain that way.

My friend has a long road ahead of her – healing from the loss of her Mom.  I don’t envy her that journey – but I know that she will not walk it alone.  As she has been there for me – I will be there for her.

Yes, death sucks.  There is just no way of getting around it – unless you think about how much relief it has brought the person who died.  But how the heck is it possible to not feel sorry for yourself?  It is selfish to be so self-indulgent.  So what?  As long as we don’t stay there in that place for too long.  It is so tempting, for some reason, to go “there”.  To get out, in fact, takes a lot of will power – strength – and tears.  To get out – one must forgive.

Vandie was a good daughter.  She was loyal, brave, and thoughtful.

Vandie is a good person.  Period.

When I told her that the reason I pushed so hard in her fitness classes was to be ready should I have to fight cancer again, she cried.  “You can’t leave me, Stacey.  I can’t take another loss.”  My heart sank.  Of course, she can’t.  So – I need to fight for Vandie now too.  And that, is a promise.

About inmycorner

This blog began as an opportunity to tell my Dad's stories. I sat with him and the computer and together we told stories. It was a wonderful way to get to know Dad. He was 9. He and Mom had a wonderful life together and since she passed away a year and a half before him - Dad was ready to join her. I no longer tell his stories but have found stories of my own. The impetus to resume this blog was the discovery that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Since blogging had been so therapeutic for my dad and I to get through our grief, I felt maybe this would be a good outlet to process my situation. I also hoped it may serve as an outreach to anyone else who is facing this very ominous journey. So far, so good.
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8 Responses to I forgive you, Mom

  1. Maureen says:

    When my Mum died there was so much regret, pain, and probably guilt as well. You have pointed to a better way forward with your remembrance of the joys. By the way my niece will be having her op to remove her breasts next week. The good news is that the lymph nodes under her arms seem to be clear.

    • inmycorner says:

      thanks, Maureen. Funny how we all have that regret, eh? So glad things are moving forward with your niece! Surgery was my saving grace – without it I would not be her now. And so so happy for all of you that they lymph nodes are clear. Please keep me posted! I will be sending you strength and prayers!

  2. I can’t believe that what you wrote for someone else, and without ever having met me, felt so familiar. I understood it from my own experience of losing my father.

    Beautifully written Stacey.

    • inmycorner says:

      thanks, colleen. The older I get the more I come to realize that the human experience is so connected. There is a form of union that begins as life happens. Experiences unite us, so it seems. I relate so well to so many of the pieces you write as well – imagine – kindred spirits yet total strangers.

  3. Gallivanta says:

    My mother says that she has thought of her parents every day since they died; she is talking decades now. It’s good to know our loved ones stay within us but we probably are not able to express, no matter how hard we try, the depth of our love for them whilst they are physically with us. I am glad you and Vandie have each other.

    • inmycorner says:

      It is so wonderful that we have had parents such as ours in our lives. Funny to think that they continue to live with us for so long when the physical is gone. It’s almost harder to get over a death when someone has been in our lives for a long time — my Dad pined for my Mom. Long life is both a blessing and a curse.

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