April 3 marked the two-year anniversary of the day my mother earned her wings. I will never forget that early morning in 2017, and the days leading up to it. I knew she was going to go, so I spent those few days holding her hand and talking to her much as I could; about memories of fun times and how much I appreciated her. Even though she couldn’t respond, I knew she heard me, or was at least aware of my words, tears and laughter. I remember the day she went, just as I remember that November evening in 1990 when my father passed away.
When you lose one parent…well, you mourn the loss and you cherish the parent who is left even more. But after you’ve lost both parents, it’s easy to feel like an adult orphan. Even when you’re a grown woman, you still need your parents! There’s something about losing your mother that’s different than losing anyone else. After all, she gave you life – for the first nine months of your actual existence, your dwelling was a warm place inside of her physical being. You were connected to her; you formed in her womb; you depended on her for sustenance and protection until you were ready to make your grand entrance into the world. Yes, there’s something entirely different about losing your mother…
So, how do you go on living, without someone whose mere presence gave you life from the very beginning – the person who actually did give you life? The best thing you can do is to live well. And living well means taking stock of your life – especially at the time of loss.
When someone you love dies, particularly a parent, you begin to think about your own mortality and time and life priorities. Those of us who work all week spend our weekdays at work and in round-trip traffic each day. On the weekends – we try to squeeze in all of the errands and chores (laundry, clean houses, groceries, etc.) plus activities with our families, children and friends. We try to carve out time for church, exercise, hobbies and rest. We try to get the proper amount of sleep each night and time to cook healthy meals to eat each day.
All of a sudden, time is moving fast, life seems short. Our kids grow up overnight, it seems, and move on with their lives.
How do we set our priorities when there always seems to be so much to do? We look up and something got left out or we missed something while we were “living our lives” and we try to rethink it all. At the death of a loved one who is close, we are left thinking about what we wish we did or didn’t do – times we should’ve said or done this or that. And it makes us rethink our priorities and how we spend our time.
It is said that during grief we shouldn’t make any big life decisions for a while. I say that’s when we should make some decisions. That’s when we should examine our lives and make some tweaks and adjustments by what we learned from our experiences with the person we lost – good or bad.
And we should be more intentional – about our time, our actions, who we spend our time with, who we share ourselves with, and our spiritual, physical, emotional connections. I think the older we get the more we want things and times to be simple, golden and full of love and drama free. I know I do. With age comes increased wisdom that time is so precious and so fleeting.
My mother left me a sweet legacy: she set an example of what it means to be a woman worth her salt. In all of my capacities in this world, I owe it to her put all that she taught me to life. The best memorial to her is to live my life well.