The first name and word I uttered….
My first love….
The first and last person who truly broke my heart….
This pain will probably never ever fade. It’ll never go away.
This void will never fill.
But Mama…. I have learned to live through it. I have learned to not allow the pain to harden my heart or dim my light.
Mama I was so lost after losing you.
I’m ready to tell my story. To tell how the trauma of my Mother’s murder killed who I use to be and transformed me into the person that I am today.
I have to start from the early realization that at a young age I knew that my Mother could die at any time of any day. So you can understand why it was so devastating and surreal to go through what my Sister, myself and my family dealt with during this entire situation.
We all lived knowing that one day Mama wouldn’t be here. We prepared our entire lives knowing that one day our Mama, Sister, or Aunt Brenda would pass away.
We were ALL mentally prepared to hold her hand, wipe away her tears, let her know that it was ok to pass on. That her battle against Sickle Cell Anemia that she had been fighting since she was 3 years old was over and that she could finally rest and be at peace.
We have always been ready for that. To have those final moments with her in her hospital room holding her hand letting her know that she was not alone and that we there.
Hell we had just had these same experiences 4 months earlier when our Mother Dear passed away at the age of 97. We were all there. Able to show her and tell her Thank You and how much we loved her and it was ok to go on home.
We hadn’t even healed from the loss of Mother Dear. My Mama was STILL battling the pain from that loss. I recall a few weeks prior to her own death she called me crying saying how much she missed Mother Dear and how she didn’t tell her how thankful she was and how sorry she was about all the stress she had put her through as a teenager and young woman.
I laughed at her then not even realizing that a few weeks later I’d be beginning my own road of reflecting and apologizing and not being able to say goodbye.
A pain…. a pain that will never go away.
Life has a funny way of showing you that you don’t have control over certain situations, certain endings. And it was laid out so clearly to me on February 2, 2014. The day I got the call that changed my life forever.
Up until that day I thought I had enough time. Let me tell you right now that time is of an essence and it’s way too short to ever waste it. So today, if you feel in your heart that you need to right any wrongs towards anyone, I heavily encourage you to do just that. My Mother Dear always told me that we are ALL on borrowed time. So make the most of every moment as if it is your last.
In all actuality my Mother died within the wee hours of February 1, 2014 between 4 am and 8 am but we didn’t find out until February 2nd.
Yes, I went a whole 24 hrs not knowing she was gone. And the reality of that bothers me until this day. Being an empathetic person, I thought I’d feel something. But I literally felt nothing at all.
It didn’t even dawn on me that I had missed my Uncles birthday party that Saturday night, the party that my Mom and I had talked about on Friday, January 31st. I had helped her find a picture to put on his cake. She told me that she and my Aunt Gail were going to go in the morning to get the cake made.
So you see, she was expecting to be alive that next day. She had so much to live for. She was expecting to be at my Uncles Party. Was looking forward to it.
She had so much to look forward to. She had just found out that I was pregnant with my third child that Monday, January 27, and she was sooo excited and was hoping it was a girl and that she would be born on her birthday, August 10th.
She had so much to look forward to.
She never got to hear my groans of another boy when I got the ultrasound back. Lol, she never got to see the only child of mine to have her hair and big Ol eyes, (Jaden) Nope she was gone that Saturday. Just like that a life of so much pain and resilience, joy and laughter, hell the life of every damn party, was taken away and I will never know why.
And that breaks my heart every time I think about it.
So of course being pregnant not once but twice while dealing with the horrific murder of your Mama, enduring the trial, watching the guy who killed her only get sentenced to a plea of 23 years in which he had already served 3. That wasn’t even half the time of how old she was.
I really didn’t feel like shit but I pretended to be strong for so long. Not for myself but for my sons and my Sister. But I was literally losing my mind.
I wasn’t a pretty person at all during that period of time. I was so angry. And yes, it had a lot to deal with her death and not really understanding the correct way to grieve. Not really having people around me that understood or tried to understand what I was going through.
When you go through something so trans-formative you REALLY see who is in your corner and who is not. Please take heed to this awareness and move accordingly.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve. You will go through every emotion and you need people around you that know how to love you through it and give you the necessary space, time and care that you will need to get through it. Nothing more, nothing less.
I was going through so much during this time period of loss that I didn’t have time to give myself the adequate amount of focus I needed to grieve. I just kept moving on. I put a temporary band-aid on a wound that needed a triage unit to repair. But I kept on pressing forward.
Crying in showers when no one could hear me. Quietly depending on substances to dull the ache of the loss.
I vividly remember in May of 2016, while pregnant with my youngest son Josiah, going to her cemetery and just screaming out loud in tears hoping she’d hear me and console me.
I was so unhappy and it showed. From my weight even to my actions and attitude. I was on a very dark and lonely road that I didn’t think would ever end. I was on this road and I felt alone because of the mask I put up pretending to be strong when I was weak within. And I know that a lot of that was my own fault now because I wore this mask of strength throughout it all afraid to admit that I was not OK.
I was not ok at all.
It took for me to admit that I was not ok. Do you hear me? You have to finally admit that you are not ok. And understand that it is OK to not be OK. Realizing that created a pathway for me to find the necessary healing that I needed to finally BE OK.
And it took 5 years to find that path of healing. So, don’t put a time stamp on the process baby, just keep going. There is no time-frame on how long it’ll take you to grieve. This is lesson number 1, identifying and admitting that you are not OK.
I’ve always been someone who put everyone else before me. I have always been a people “pleaser” even at my own self expense. Lesson 2 that I learned on this path was that I had to stop putting everyone else before me and focus on my self preservation.
Sometimes it’s ok to be selfish with you! This was the hardest lesson that I learned while healing. But it literally makes the most sense. How can we ever care for or nurture anyone else completely when we ourselves are not complete?
(Side note: Even admitting how incomplete I was was therapeutic to me. We are so immune to trauma within our community that we don’t even realize how much we all suffer from Post Traumatic Stress. But it’s real and it’s killing us silently. But that’s another blog entirely.)
Being selfish with yourself is a lot more than just saying, “I’m not fucking with someone.” No, that’s not what it was for me. It was more of realizing that I can’t please everyone and I’m not going to kill myself trying to. I’m going to find who I am and love who I am and do the best that I can. And if who I am is not what you want or like, well, then you can say I can’t fuck with you and feel no shame about it. It took my five years and an entire spiritual awakening to find myself again.
This is where my transformation began. Things that use to be entertaining to me wasn’t. Conversations that use to be appealing to me no longer were. Gossiping was pointless. Making excuses for my partner ceased. Every mask I put up and faked fell down and I was bare not to the world but to myself for the first time in a very long time.
That’s going to go over some folks heads but let me break it down:
Society has shaped, molded and conditioned us so much that we really don’t know who we are or what we ourselves actually like. We are so programmed and conditioned by the thoughts and feelings of our parents, friends and family. And it’s so common that when you finally step outside of the norm people think YOU are crazy.
Call me crazy all you want but I finally know EXACTLY who I am and what I am and I am not ashamed of it. I’ve never felt more free in my life.
Everyone’s spiritual journey is different however. You may not find yourself on a mirroring path like mine but you will go through a journey of self discovery, which is lesson 3, and I just ask that you be open minded to whatever possibility on the route you take and don’t rule anything out immediately. At the end you will be more open and honest with yourself and you will begin to feel the wounds of pain begin to mend.
After self discovery and finding the spirituality that aligns with your higher self be prepared to have your world be pulled from underneath your feet. Lesson 4 is be prepared and accepting to sudden, necessary change. It’s going to come fast and hard. And you will have to surrender to it. Everything and everyone that is not meant for you will cease to be or exist. And you have to be ready to let it go or find yourself repeating patterns that keep you stuck and complacent.
While lesson 5 would ideally be the first lesson to some, it didn’t happen for me until I had mastered the first 4. Facing my pain directly. Facing losing my Mama directly and being honest with myself on the whole situation and how it made me feel. I had to dissect it all and re-open the wound and face it head on. So while you’d think it would be the first step it isn’t because the previous steps prepared me for this moment.
I had to go to a therapist to find ways to cope and process it all afterwards. And it helped tremendously. And that’s my final lesson. Lesson 6, finding a therapist or life coach that you are completely comfortable with. Don’t be ashamed of going to therapy. It’s extremely important and so many of us would benefit from seeing a therapist.
So let’s recap the Lessons:
Lesson 1. Identifying and admitting that you are not OK.
Lesson 2. Be selfish with yourself during your time of healing. It’s OK to focus on repairing yourself and don’t let anyone shame you for focusing on your own healing.
Lesson 3. Go on spiritual journey of self discovery and remain open minded through it.
Lesson 4. Be prepared and accepting to sudden, necessary change.
Lesson 5. Face your pain directly, be honest with your feelings about it and don’t hide any emotion it brings forth. From Anger to Sadness. Feel it all.
Lesson 6. Find a therapist to help you make sense of what you are feeling and that you can be open, comfortable and transparent with.
I just want to reiterate these are tips that helped me be able to cope with the loss of my Mother effectively. I’m not completely healed but I’m also not as broken and lost as I once was.
You will still have highs and lows but you will be able to go through those moments strong and secure within yourself and depend on yourself completely to get you through the moments. OR you won’t feel weak looking to a therapist or counselor to help you get through it.
With these lessons and tips you will be able to get through these moments without depending on things that could further pull you down from addictions to alcohol, drugs or sex. (Yes sex, we will save that for another blog. )
This isn’t a cure. I don’t think we ever get over losing someone. Especially not someone as close to you as a parent. That’s a type of pain that’ll live with us until we are old and grey.
And as cliche as it sounds with time it truly does get easier to smile at their memory.
While she’s gone and I felt robbed of the final moments I wasn’t able to spend with her, I find comfort in knowing that she is no longer in pain. Knowing that she loved me unconditionally and wouldn’t want me broken and beaten also gives me peace.
And that for now is all that matters to me.