It's a new month and that means it's time to take a look back at…
Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of my mother’s death. She was 66.
It’s a milestone, and it’s one that I feel needs to be acknowledged. Not in a celebratory way, of course, but in a look-how-far-I’ve-come way. Because the person that I am now is so very different than the person that I was 25 years ago.
For a bit of context: I was 32 years old and Dale and I had been married for less than a year. Hannah was 5 and my step kids were 15, 19, and 23. I was working full time as a Library Director, engrossed in a new marriage, and blending a family. There was a lot of love, but in many ways we were all still getting to know each other when this huge and life-changing thing happened. And, while it happened to all of us, it mostly happened to me.
In those early days, and honestly for quite some time after, I was not.good. Grief literally rained over me, to the point where I felt like I couldn’t stand up straight from the constant deluge. I was fragile and sad and angry and I missed my mom so very, very much. One of the things I remember struggling with the most was deciding what to make for dinner because, up until about a week before she died, I talked to my mom on the phone every day and we’d always discuss (sometimes at length!) what we were each making for dinner that night. It sounds silly to acknowledge that making that decision without her was so overwhelming but that’s how it was for me. I have memories that stand out, like Dale begging me to get out of bed and decorate Easter eggs with Hannah and Luke, but a lot of that time is just a blur of overwhelming pain.
And eventually that pain started to lift, as it does with grief, when time passes and heartache eases. 25 years seems to have passed quickly but so much has changed.
The marriage and family that was young and fragile is now rooted and strong. The children that still needed parents on a daily basis are now adults and on their own. I’m still in the same career but at a different location and the confidence I have in my job skills now are incredibly developed compared to when I was 32 and had only been a Library Director for 2.5 years.
Best of all, the me that was broken has become whole. It took time and talk therapy and chemistry. It took forgiveness and reliving old childhood trauma and accepting that my mother did the best she could. In many ways, it took the freedom of not having to live up to my mother’s expectations to become the person I’ve always wanted to be. I know she’d be so proud of my elected office and my volunteer work and my creative pursuits. I’m not sure she’d understand that I needed to be completely independent from her to do those things but I like to think that maybe she’d concede that I have a point.
I’m certain she’s with me. I’m certain she loves me. And I’m certain she’s at peace.