For the last two years, my mom has been dead. It’s weird. It’s painful. It might as well have been forever. It’s the longest in my life I’ve gone without seeing or talking to or hugging my mom.
Two years later, it’s easier than it was. But at times like this when I sit at my laptop to write this blog, in my backyard where my mom would’ve been sunbathing with me, it’s hard again. The choking sensation and tightness in the back of my throat return. The back of my eyes stings with tears. Feelings that were all too familiar.
Right after my mom died, I remember lying awake at night, scouring the internet on my phone for some sign of hope, help, or relief. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was searching for. Proof that someone else had survived this kind of monumental loss and heartbreak, and that I would get through it too. Everyone said it would get better and I hoped for my time to come. I wanted so badly to hit fast forward to that time, where every moment wasn’t burdened with the weight of tremendous pain and grief.
It doesn’t come as a shock to me that “one year since mom died” is one of the most common search times that brings people to my blog. I can relate to those who search, I understand why they seek what they do. While I can’t promise that it will bring what they or looking for, or even that it will help, I hope at least someone might feel less alone. It’s partially why I continue to share my journey through grief. I’m at the point that if someone asked me if I was okay, I wouldn’t be lying by responding with a yes (of course every day is different). I’m alive. I’m happy. I feel that I’m living out my dreams. But I still live with grief and always will.
After my mom died, it didn’t get easier. It got harder. Didn’t everyone say it was supposed to get easier? As each day passed, it slowly became the longest I had ever lived without my mom. Technically, I had never lived a day without her not being alive. With each day, it became the longest I hadn’t talked to her, or seen her, or given her a hug. I had never gone more than a few months without seeing her in person because even both times I lived abroad she came to visit.
As time passed, the reality of her death sank in harder and became more real. It was suffocating. Part of me wished it was a terrible joke, “OK mom, you got us, you can come back already.” But she wasn’t coming back. And she never would. There was no more pretending she was out shopping or on a vacation. The realization was unbearable.
I quickly saw the world in two distinct eras. Life with my mom and life after my mom. Like the Roman Empire and the fall of Rome. It dawned on me that each new song I heard on the radio was a song my mom had never heard before and would never get to hear. One that she would never be able to try to sing along to in the car even when she didn’t know all the lyrics. :p
All kinds of new things were happening in a life post-mom and none of them would have memories tied to her. Crazy, horrible things happened in the world, I was almost glad she wasn’t alive to see some of them. The world seemed like a much worse place without her in it…
I love photos. The realization that I would never take another photo with my mom was rough. That the photos I had with her were defined rather than infinite, I only had what we had. We could never take another photo together again, with her big beautiful smile.
Tonight (I’m no longer outside on my deck and now in another home dog-sitting) when I was digging through pictures on my dad’s Google drive using my mom’s name as the search term, I came across something new. I saw a photo of my mom and me that I don’t think I had ever seen before, or either completely forgot about (likely because it hadn’t been posted on any form of social media and lived in a phone camera roll).
I knew where we were (the original Starbucks in Seattle) but I couldn’t recall the exact occasion until I saw other photos from the outing (her sorority sister Margot was in town). Finding the “new” photo made me cry. But in a good way. There was the photo I didn’t know I was looking for.
Scrolling through random moments from ten or so years of my mom’s life still makes her death surreal. From holidays, birthday parties, vacations, and everyday moments, selfies and photos of her sticking her tongue out at whoever was behind the camera. In some ways, it is still hard to believe she’s really gone. I know this contradicts what I wrote earlier. But that’s grief for you.
Of course, I wish my mom was around to make more memories with, I miss her every day. But I feel that sometimes she is with me. And I am grateful for 25 years of well-documented memories and look forward to uncovering more evidence of the beautiful life she lived and love we shared.
A very random assortment of a few hidden gem photos I found after breaking into my dad’s Google drive: