Words from a Motherless Child
Francine L. Baldwin-Billingslea
I thought my world had come to an end the day my mother died. Mom moved in with me shortly after I divorced and my step-father passed. We were always close, but in my younger days, especially after I reached the ripe old age of eighteen, I didnít want to hear anything she had to say. I never understood why sheíd always say, ďNever let a day go by without telling your loved ones, I love you.Ē I also didnít want to accept our similarities in personality, character, temperaments, flaws, positive traits, and even looks. But having gone through the raging hormones, rebellion stages, becoming an adult, having a daughter of my own, and walking in motherís shoes, I finally understood and accepted those facts. I gratefully allowed my mother to become what she had always been - my confidant, avid supporter, and my best friend. The bond between us had become inseparable. Thereís nothing like a motherís love.
Iíll never forget the morning that I walked into my motherís bedroom and found that she had suddenly passed away. I literally thought I was going to die from the shock, grief, and heartache. I felt emotional and physical pains that I never experienced before and I pray that I will never experience again. I literally felt a final and supernatural cutting of the umbilical cord between us, and the world I had always known would never be the same again. I would never see her smile, hear her contagious laughter, words of wisdom, or feel the warmth of her hugs. I held her close to my heart for the last time as I felt the pain that so many others have felt, a pain that I could never imagine, or to this day, describe. Itís the kind of pain that only the sting of death could instill. I screamed as it afflicted every part of my being.
The emotional roller-coaster began. I felt anger because we did everything together and yet, as I slept only a few feet away, she died alone. I felt guilt because I didnít know what I could have done for her or if I could have saved her life. I felt forsaken and abandoned because she left me so suddenly and unexpectedly. I didnít have the chance to say I love you or goodbye. Now, I understood. I was so overwhelmed, stunned, dazed, and traumatized that I couldnít absorb the reality of what had happened. I couldnít even cry and found that denial was doing itís best to protect me. It wasnít until after the funeral and everything had calmed down that it all really hit me. I was trying to be strong, but the truth of the matter was, I was secretly falling apart. I found myself not eating, not sleeping, not concentrating, and on anti-depressants. I questioned the cruelties of life and found no answers, and I became jealous of those who had their mothers.
Months began to pass and although I was functioning, I was having a hard time living and I had to do something about it, my motherís death and the anger I felt towards it was consuming my life. I stopped pretending that I was strong and realized that even though I was in my fifties, it didnít matter how old I was, she was my mother and I was her child. I had to cry it out, talk it out, scream it out, grieve it out, and do whatever I needed to do to get through it. I also had to realize that my motherís time and death were predestined. Although weíll all go through times like this, this is an individual and personal experience and I had to deal with it and find ways to cope with my pain and loss without the help of anti-depressants. I began to pray for acceptance and healing.
I had to start rebuilding my life without her and once I settled that in my heart and mind, it was the beginning of the healing process. In the interim, I centered myself more around loved ones and found projects that kept me busy. I began to write and found that it helped to relieve the stress, and I relied on my faith, taking time to mediate and pray daily. I kept the scripture in mind that ďBlessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,Ē and I stood on that word. I placed aromatherapy candles around and took long relaxing baths and each time, I allowed a little of the pain and grief to go down the drain with the dirty water. I stopped hosting my pity parties and turned down the invitations to them. Now that I was a motherless child, I had to become a parent to myself. I had gone through something traumatic and was in the process of trying to heal and I had to do healing things for my body and my mind.
Yes, it was a struggle, but I was determined to come out of the grip of grief. I started watching TV shows and movies that made me laugh; laughter is like a medicine. I played music that made me want to get up and dance. I placed a few pictures around of mom that made me remember the good times we had, and I started to appreciate the fact that she was in my life the way and for the length of time that she was. I became thankful. I sat and wrote her a long letter letting her know how much I loved and missed her and buried it in her garden before I sold my home and with that, I said good-bye. I was slowly moving on in my own time and in my own way, there was no need to rush the process and I wasnít. When I felt the need to cry, mourn, and grieve, I did, but with a sense of balance, the balance I had learned from mom when her mother passed away.
One thing we all have to remember is, dying is a part of living and death is something that we will all experience and withstand, and there are no short cuts or easy remedies to ease the pain. However, we must embrace death just as much as we embrace life. We must also embrace and celebrate the lives of our loved ones, but also embrace the loss and grief when itís time.
Grieving is hard and it can take quite a toll on our bodies mentally, physically, and emotionally. During the grieving process even the simplest of things can become the hardest tasks, but in time they will become simple again. I also had to keep in mind that unhealthy grief not only has a negative affect on you, but also on those around you. I had to stop thinking about myself; I wasnít the only one who felt the loss. I am a mother and a grandmother myself; my children needed to see my smiles, hear my laughter and words of wisdom, and feel the warmth of my hugs.
Itís been almost four years since my mom passed away and yes, there are times that I still get on an emotional roller-coaster, but I donít allow the ride to last too long. Yes, momís passing was a shocking blow to my world, but it wasnít the end and I have since found strength, healing, restoration, and a new way of living and loving from grief through prayer and faith. Iíve also found that they are gifts that Iíve learned to value, appreciate, and celebrate, just as much as the gifts of parents, our children, and our lives.
I show it and they know it, and whether they listen or donít understand why. I try not to let a day go by without telling my loved ones, ďI love you.Ē I never know when it may be for the last time.