Monday, May 9, 2016

in every season, there are lessons to be learned if we're open to them. for me, grief has been a deeply sorrowful experience, but also a great teacher. below are some of the lessons i'm learning as i walk through it.

1) you can't take your belongings with you.

i sat there staring at my mom's possessions, which were piled neatly into a corner in my sister's spare room. there, all of her belongings sat, dusty and unused. i stared at her shoes as tears rolled down my cheek, i opened boxes to see what was left of her before opening her closet and touching her clothes. god, i miss her, i thought. i miss everything about her.

my A.D.D of a brain then went off on a tangent and i got thinking. obviously we need things; we need clothes, and shoes, and [insert whatever else you need here], but as i was reminded of this past week as i stood over my mom's belongings, you can't take your things with you when you die, so why not live accordingly now?

2) focus on experiences instead.

shortly after i snuck a peak into my mom's closet, i looked down on the ground and saw her silly raptors' hat. she loved hats; crazy, fun, and silly, hats, and this one fell right into that category.

memories started flooding in as i held that magical hat to my chest like baseball players hold theirs during the anthem; it was magical in the sense that it brought me right back to the ACC that night. it was her dream to see the raptors play after all, so my brother and i took her to see a game for her birthday, and she loved it. man, did she love it. but now all that was left was a memory; a painful, yet extremely comforting, memory.

create as many of those as you can, with as many people as you can.

3) as humans, we are constantly changing.

i feel like a different person ever since my mom died.

on a negative side, with both parents now gone, i feel lost and detached from the world, really angry, forgotten [especially yesterday being mother's day], deeply lonely, and misunderstood by my friends. on a positive side, i feel more aware and thankful, less determined to let small things bother me, and more determined to make my life count ... whatever that looks like. grief also has a way of making you re-evaluate your life, and causes you to search your way through the meaning of it. it also changes you. at least, it's changing me.

Monday, May 2, 2016

"i'm not afraid to die, " my mom said to the doctor after he dropped the terminal bomb on her. "i've lived a full life"

i sat there speechless, his words sinking in, but more so hers, as i pondered what a full life meant to her.

i don't know much about my mom's past. she never really spoke of it. but what i do know wouldn't necessarily constitute a full life to most of us.

she was adopted. her brother vanished from her life when i was a kid. she was cheated on, spent 42 days alone in a hospital after my older brother was born [she was in between marriages then], had a lot of financial trouble despite working very, very hard, spent 16 years taking care of my dad as he decreased in health, saw him through surgery after surgery, underwent heart surgery herself, recovered like a champ, and took care of my dad some more. in fact, outside of her 'saggy bottom café' visits each morning as he slept, she never left his side. i mean, never. though she never knew what their marriage would entail when she vowed to take care of my dad 'in sickness and in health', she followed through with her promise, and stood by her commitment to love him until the day that he died.

grief stricken, she got word that she had cancer, underwent surgery and radiation, was pronounced cancer free as a result, and a few months later, sat in a doctor's office and got told that she would succumb to this cruel and vicious disease, and three months later, she did.

and yet, she lived a full life, she said. a full and meaningful life.

her words keep replaying through my head as i sit here and reflect on the last few months of her life, and the past few months without her.

you see, the world is full of victims. people who walk around with a chip on their shoulder, bitterness in their heart, and revenge on their mind.

"i can't believe she did that". "i don't deserve this". "i'm going to make him pay", etc., all the while, we make ourselves pay because we become prisoners of our circumstance.

lord knows i've been there. we all have. but what my mom taught me by the way she lived her life up until her last breath was this: we can't choose our lot in life, but we can choose how we view it.