July 15, 1993 is the day that my mother, at the age of 35, unexpectedly took her last breath. She was the individual who tucked me into bed each night, made sure I was bathed and fed, and played with me. She was the woman who loved me unconditionally and who taught me how to pray. She was the person who held me for the first time and heard my first words. She was the person I trusted more than anyone. I was 4 years old, and we had been together since the day I was born – we were inseparable. I was the epitome of a “mama’s boy.” Suddenly, she was gone. I was left with many questions and with so much fear. Didn’t she love me? Why did she leave? If she just “disappeared,” couldn’t the same thing happen to my dad? My world was turned upside down. The person I trusted the most had “left me,” and no one knew how to tell me that she was never coming back.
As time progressed, my mother was mentioned less and less. I thought about her every single day, but feared mentioning her name because the word “mommy” always brought tears to my father’s eyes. Despite the fact that I was only 4 years old when she died, I still remember things like the smell of the perfume she wore and the dark blue comforter that was on the bed when she died. I remember her taking me to church, and the way that she would wipe candy off of my face with her thumb. I remember playing with her in the yard, but things like my memory of her voice have faded.
Every night as a child, I prayed that God would tell her how much I loved her and that he would let her see me grow up. Even today, at the age of 25, I miss this woman that I only knew for the first 4 years of my life. As I look through pictures, memories of her flood my mind. Some of them real, others I have probably created in my mind out of a desire to know her better. All I have are those faded memories, some pictures, and the stories that I have been told about what an amazing person she was.
We never forget the individuals that we lose. I had no idea you could miss someone you barely knew, but trust me when I say – you can. It is ok to think about our loved ones who have died, and it is ok to talk about them. Doing these things keeps our memories of them alive, even though they are no longer with us. Don’t be afraid to shed a tear or laugh when you think of something funny. Allow yourself to remember, and know that it is ok. Talking with someone who is willing to listen is incredibly therapeutic, and journaling can be a great way of getting your thoughts out. Ignoring or suppressing your emotions will only lead to unhealthy coping later.
Updated: August 25, 2014