Happy holidays, everyone. I hesitate to say that sometimes because, for some, the holidays aren’t happy, and there is often a lot of stress put on being happy and celebrating this time of year. While I am not trying to be Scrooge, this year’s holidays have been incredibly dark and depressing. I skipped my post last month as my mother, the light of my life, passed away on December 7th after an illness over this past year. I am happy to say she stopped chemotherapy three months prior and lived well these past few months. It was beautiful to see her, seemingly how she’d always been, but then she declined quickly, and here we are. I realize many of you have gone through the pain and anguish of losing a parent or someone you love, and I take solace in knowing that I’m not alone during a time I’ve never felt more alone. We all have different relationships with our parents, and I am fortunate to have had a wonderful one with my mother. She always saw the good in people and the beauty in everything, sometimes to a fault, which could be annoying for a glass half-emptier like me, but without her, the darkness is smothering, and I wonder if I’ll ever see the light again. Grief is a process and can be all-consuming. I’ve not experienced terminal illness with a loved one before, just the phone call notification of an unexpected demise. Both of these are excruciating, but with my mother, I’ve had a year to talk to her and process this. It’s an odd preparation for what is to come while also grieving while the person is still here, which is the strangest and most uncomfortable feeling ever. I’m not sure if grieving beforehand makes it easier, but it jump-starts the process, I assume, as you’re not blindsided when the inevitable happens.
I’m tired, so tired after living on high alert for a year and mourning my mother and best friend while she was here and now that she is gone. Who do I belong to? Who cares? These thoughts run through my head and weigh heavy on my vacant heart. In one of our many conversations, I dared to ask her if my actions were enough for her and if she needed more from me. When someone is actively dying, it feels like you aren’t doing enough, and you never will be because you can’t save them. That was my experience. Feeling powerless because I couldn’t save her, help her, or take anything away from her. All I could do was be there and manage her care as best I could; none of that was enough. I asked her, “Do you need me to do more? Is there anything you need to say or for us to experience?” I said this and knew that for me, there was nothing between us left unsaid and no other experience I’d wish to have and regret I didn’t. I hoped that she felt the same. She did; she said exactly how I felt, and with that, although I wanted more, and so did she, it was okay. We’ve traveled, laughed, cried, talked, and talked some more. We’ve had ups and downs, but we have experienced each other for years, good and bad, and we have had some of the most beautiful times. She died peacefully in her home with her kids by her side at 80 years old after living a fabulous life (her words). She is always a glass-half-full gal, and to her, everything was fabulous.
During all this, I signed a traditional publishing deal for my second novel, The Summer Before, which will be out in October 2024. I got to tell my mother about it, which I was happy about, but somehow, it won’t be the same without my biggest fan. I’m so grateful for the tremendous support system I have. What they say is true: we discover who truly loves you in the most challenging times. I am blessed that I have so many people who do, and while I am thankful for each one, no one can ever replace my mother’s love, so I won’t try to. Some say we lose a piece of ourselves when we lose such important people in our lives. It changes us, and there is no escaping it. For now, I’m trying to be quiet and sit with it, letting it be okay to feel. And while next year, the holidays, I’m hoping, will be happier, they won’t be the same, but I’ve vowed to take a play from my mother’s book and try to see life as more fabulous because that would be the best way to honor her.
Cheers to a fabulous New Year, then, and happy holidays to those who are happy and to everyone struggling; they’re almost over. Sending love…
For more on grief during this time of year, click HERE.