|Sometimes when I need a little extra strength to stand tall, I put on a pair of my Mom's shoes.|
Four years ago today, my mom succumbed to Breast Cancer. It was and is still so hard. To be completely truthful, my relationship with my mom was complicated. I loved her, she was my biggest cheerleader, and incredibly optimistic. She also drove me nuts and my parents had some belief systems that sometimes strained our relationship. With all that being said, I miss her. I miss her a lot.
I still want my mom to be here, to be a Grandma, to be my friend, to tell me it's going to be okay. I had no idea when she died, my family, in a way, would died with her. My mother is probably horrified at the current state of the family and our infrequent interactions. (The exception being my oldest brother, who is my best friend. In spite of the fact that he hogged the dimples and good genes, I still love him.)
As part of The Year of You, The Year of Me, I vowed that I would dump some of my emotional baggage that I've been hauling around. I need to confess that while I miss my mom terribly, I have been so mad at her, I could hardly see straight. I've been stuck in the anger stage of grief and just can't seem to move forward.
She had Breast Cancer three years before her death and while she had surgery, she chose not to treat it with chemo or radiation. She chose to go against the advice of her Oncologist. She gambled and she lost, which resulted in my loss. I lost my mom, my kid's lost a Grandma, and I lost my family as I knew it. I've been furious with her and her choice.
So, at the beginning of the year I decided it's time to move forward, to let go of the anger and leave my emotional baggage at the curb. Someone else can have it, I don't need it anymore. I've been lugging that around for a while now and I'm really tired. With the help of a therapist I've been able to gain an understanding, a new perspective on my mom's choices. It hasn't been easy and there have been many tears shed, but it has all been worth it.
I have a new appreciation for my mom that I didn't have before. She was a vibrant person whose life wasn't easy. She spent most of her life swimming upstream while wearing hot pink lipstick. She made the best of it. Her Mama Bear instincts are legendary and I vividly remember the principal of my elementary school telling me, "I'm going to have to call your mother, but truthfully she terrifies me." (You can read the infamous Mama Bear story here.)
Last night I dreamed about her for the first time in a long time. We were floating on rafts and I had been holding on to a rope tied to her raft. She looked at me, smiled, and mouthed the words, "Let Go." I hesitated and then she nodded and smiled. I let go of the rope and she drifted away out of view, while I floated back to shore. My kids, my husband were all there on the beach waiting for me to return.
Today, I will celebrate my mom and honor the good things I inherited for her. I will honor her vibrant spirit, put on some hot pink lipstick, and live my life to the fullest. Just the way my mom would want me too.