Watching the flowers covering the casket as the people around cried at her funeral, my heart shattered as I knew the part of my soul that my mother held went with her to the grave.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on December 9, 2021. It has since been updated.
All I remember about that day was that the rain was relentless and that pain consumed me whole leaving nothing behind but numbness. That was the day I watched as the coffin holding the woman I treasured the most in my life was lowered into the ground—my best friend, my confidant, my sister... my mother.—the only one who knew me better than I knew myself. And what breaks me more is the fact that I don't know if I ever told her how much I loved her before she passed.
Just five months ago, we met up for lunch (made by her because there's nothing better) and were talking and giggling away like young teens, and I was happy to see that she was recovering well from her heart surgery. Just three months ago, we were talking about how my work was keeping me away from visiting and that it'd been a while since she had seen my children, but she was ever so understanding about it like she always has been. And then one month ago, the news came. The one that brought me to my knees.
She had passed away. My rock, my pillar of strength did not exist anymore. I remember feeling this emptiness wash over me as my dad relayed the news to me over the phone, choking back tears of his own.
When I was younger, I never really appreciated how hard my mother worked to make me the strong, independent, free-willed woman I am today. My memories of my teenage years are like a montage of fights that ended with me slamming my door in anger. But as I grew up, we stopped being at loggerheads all the time. We began having amazing and insightful conversations.
From talking about heartbreaks to asking for advice on everything, my mother was my go-to person. It never mattered what time I called her... her phone would never be busy. She never let me feel like I was a failure, even if I didn't believe her. No matter how much we fought, she continued to give me the wings that got me to where I am today. Not one to talk about her own pain because she didn't want to feel like a burden, she still had the ability to ease mine.
Then one day, we changed. She took a chance on me and shared the hardships she grew up with. It was then that I realized how beautiful this woman was, inside and out. Despite that, I let my priorities take the first call and she never complained about it. Sometimes I wonder if she knew that it was because of her that I was able to raise my own daughter the way she did me.
My mother had been served some of the toughest cards but she was always able to bounce back. Yet that stroke was the only one that was able to ever fell the woman who always seemed invincible to me, even if I didn't admit it when I was younger.
She had called me a few days before it happened, telling me that she was feeling a bit under the weather. I asked her how bad it was. She said "Not too bad." I should have dropped everything to meet her the way she used to when I was sick. But I didn't expect anything to happen so I picked working on my projects over her.
That regret will stay with me my entire life. I didn't even make it in time to say one last goodbye. My father told me that she died with a small smile on her face and it killed me that I couldn't be there to see it. But if I know my mother, she would rather I remember the good memories I have with her than let my guilt and grief overrun my life. My only consolation is that she won't be in pain anymore. The legacy she left behind with me and my children will keep her enough alive.
And I know, if I ever need comfort, all I need to do is look to the sky, where she will probably be watching me with pride in her smile and joy in her eyes. She will always live in my heart.
I love you, Ma.