By Joye D. Epps
The other night, I found myself hysterically crying and unable to sleep because I kept replaying every single detail of my mother’s last few months here on earth. I tried doing breathing exercises and praying in an attempt to blot out those painfully intrusive thoughts of the months that led up to her death. I tried replacing those thoughts with some of our happiest moments spent together, but this proved to be unachievable.
It has been four years since my mother’s fatal battle with cancer, and it still feels like it’s only been four minutes. I am fully aware that the journey of grief is full of peaks and valleys. I was certain that I had successfully completed the five stages; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I had hoped that my matriculation through Grief’s University would guarantee triumph over one of the most difficult hurdles I’ve ever had to jump.
When my mother died, I never expected to ever get over her death completely. I did however hope that I would be able to get through it a little easier as each year passed by. I am sad to report that I still fall to my knees when those waves of sadness hit me like a ton of [bricks?].
Unfortunately, this is not my first rodeo with losing someone who was so precious to me. I lost my father at the very young age of 10, and I thought that his death would be enough to prep me for when it was my mother’s turn to go. I had always imagined being so overcome with sadness when my mother passed. I even anticipated being angry at first, but these tormenting feelings of regret were nowhere on my radar.
There are so many things that I regret and wish that I could undo when my mom’s illness and death come to mind. I wish I had been more patient, kind, understanding and empathetic of what my mom was going through. I loved my mommy with my entire heart. While she was battling, I had convinced myself that treating her any differently than I had in the past would just give breath and energy that she’d soon die. I didn’t want that energy, so I carried on “business as usual.” I regret that I spent five years in New York when I could have been creating new and lasting memories with my mom. I regret the little breaks that I would take to go for a drive just to clear my mind and attempt to grasp what was happening.
I was pissed that when I finally returned home from New York, my mother was living through her last six months. Even now, writing this post is very difficult for me to keep my eyes from welling up with tears. I torment myself quite frequently with thoughts of shoulda, coulda, wouldas. I know that this is not the type of existence my mom would want me to live.
Everything was happening way too fast, and I didn’t have time to breathe. I don’t think I’ve ever prayed so hard, believed so much, and had an immeasurable amount of faith. I had convinced myself that my mother was impervious to death. This is mostly attributed to the fact that everyone viewed my mom as being larger than life. If anyone could cheat death, it would’ve been her. As it stands, all of my efforts proved to be in vain. The amount of pain that accompanied my mother’s passing sliced through my heart like a laser. I miss her terribly! I can’t even broach the topic without feeling sick to my stomach.
She is at peace now and no longer weighed down by the burdens of this life. For that, I am eternally grateful. With each day that passes, I am learning to forgive myself more and more. Living with regret is a losing battle, and it is definitely a joy snatcher.
The only thing that brings me solace is knowing that my right now is not always. I believe that the sun will shine for me again. God restores my joy daily. He renews my strength and gives me comfort and peace. I am able to smile. I am even able to laugh hysterically sometimes. However, in quiet moments I still shed tears. However, tears are totally okay. I am confident that in due time, these tears that are shed out of great sadness and regret will soon be replaced with tears of pure joy!
To anyone who has experienced the loss of a mother or any parent for that matter, don’t give up! Stay encouraged and remember, now is not always.