We’ve had 17 days to immerse ourselves in the reality that my mom is no longer here. It’s been a harsh reality to accept and we are doing our best to move forward. The days are hard and the nights often harder. The silence intensifies the memories and regrets.
One of my favorite lines from a movie is found at the end of Hope Floats, “Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life tryin’ to overcome.” My childhood could have been exponentially worse than it was, but it still wasn’t easy. We didn’t have loads of money. My dad was an alcoholic… and my mom was angry at him for it. Being the oldest, I often took the brunt of her anger.
This caused many issues that followed me into adulthood. I second guess everything and trust no one. I’m tough on the outside but a complete basket case on the inside (but only with those in my innermost circle). I’m extremely introverted, defensive, and lack self-esteem. At the same time, I learned to be strong. To walk away when necessary. And to love even more passionately.
But, even through it all, I still loved my mom without reservations. I understood her sacrifices, praised her dedication to family, and admired her work ethic. She taught me more than I would understand until I became a mother myself.
She helped me through some of the toughest times in my life. When we lost our baby, my mom and dad were the first ones at our house. My mom called my sister and told her so I wouldn’t have to speak the words out loud. I couldn’t. Then she held me as I mourned the baby I would never get to hold outside my womb.
When Colby and I separated, it was my mom whom I finally broke down with. Sitting and talking to her one night after my aunt passed away (also from cancer), I cried on her shoulder and told her how badly I wanted my husband back. How much I loved and missed him. I poured out everything and she listened. Then she encouraged me to fight for my marriage if I wanted it back. And when I went to her a year later and told her that Colby and I were going to give it another try, she hugged me and told me she would support my decision. Whatever made me happy. As she always said, she just wanted us to be happy.
But, our relationship was never as close as I would have wanted. I feared her. I lived in a constant state of worry that nothing I did was enough to make her happy. That no matter how many grandkids I gave her, no matter how successful I became, or how incredible I could make my marriage, nothing would measure up to the standards I felt she had for me.
I’ve spent most of my adult life living with these thoughts. And now I have no idea why.
I know my mom loved me. I know that it was an unconditional love. Yet here I sit with deep regrets.
Did I tell her enough that I loved her?
Why didn’t she tell us about her secret bucket list so that we could have helped her live out the items on it?
When she told me in the ER that day that “this was probably not how I planned on spending my afternoon” why didn’t I say more than, “No. It’s fine. We had no expectations.”
It was all I could get out. I was in a constant state of worry and disbelief. It was the only part of the day when she was coherent. It was my only opportunity to really speak to her but my body was in shock. So much had happened so fast and I had no idea things would progress the way they did. I had no idea it was my last chance.
I play out those final three days over and over in my head. I’m constantly thinking about what I should have said. What I could have done differently.
I’m drowning in regrets. So many of them. Not just from those final hours, but from the last few years. My mom fought cancer for 7 years. We were all exhausted. But, the one thing I don’t think I ever accepted was the fact that she would lose that fight. She’s my mom. Mom’s are invincible, right? I was forever hoping mine was.
Do me a favor? If you still have your mom, your dad, your grandparents, give them a call or visit today. Tell them you love them. Spend an extra moment or two with them and let them know you care. Don’t let them pass on without getting it all out. The regrets are the hardest part. I pray I am able to fully love those who surround me today. I never want them to think that I loved them with conditions and that there were unspoken words between us.