It was the end of sophomore year, sitting in class she listened to the teacher drag on and on. The door opened behind her, she turned to see her principal pointing to her and asking her to come with him. Nervously she gets up and follows him. The whole walk to his office is silent, she is wondering “What could I have possibly done wrong?”. They arrive, he opens the door and inside is sitting her aunt and uncle, her best friend and her best friend's mother... When she asks what is going on, they tell her to take a seat. The principal looks nervously around the room. Finally he opens his mouth and says, “We are so sorry to tell you this, but your mother has passed away.” The rest of this memory is fuzzy to her. She remembers screaming and crying and being in complete shock. What had started off as just another normal boring school day was now the day her whole world was turned upside down.
It has been 7 years since that day. She tells me, although the pain will never go away, it does not hurt as bad. “Death is not something you ever fully overcome, it is something you learn to deal with.” When I asked her how she learned to deal with it, she replied “By having support systems. The support of my best friend's family, they became my family, I honestly don't know where I would be without them.”
When her mother died, her best friend's family took her in. They helped her grieve. She told me it was so important for the first month to just be able to grieve in whatever way she needed to, and have that family be behind her 100% of the time. “I think just knowing they were there whenever I needed them, any time of day or night, helped fill the void and made me feel less alone in the world.” She recalls one time sitting on her bed, she just started screaming and the mother ran in, (in her underwear and mouthguard), sat on the bed and held her until she became calm again. “They loved me, even though I wasn't a real member of their family, and they tried to make things feel as normal as possible for me. Their mom took on the role of my mom for a while.”
She lived and grieved with this family for a month but then decided she was strong enough to go live on her own with her Grandma. “Deep down I wish I had stayed with them longer, and I wish I had talked to a therapist because moving to my grandmas I began numbing the pain instead of feeling it.” She began drinking heavily on weekends to deal with her pain. She had quit talking about her mom and instead just made the feelings disappear. It wasn't until she met her boyfriend that she started pulling herself back up again. Her boyfriend became her go-to person, she could talk about any and everything with. He made her feel less alone and his family became her family.
It has been 7 years since that terribly painful day, she now has a daughter of her own, and is living in her mom's old house. She tells me she still has days where she wants so badly to be able to have her mom to talk to; things regarding her own daughter, life advice...just the normal things a girl and her mom would talk about. When those days comes she goes to the cemetery and will sit at her mom's grave and talk to her, cry to her, catch her up on her life, and tell her she loves her. Her pain is not gone, but she has learned to talk it through. She has surrounded herself with people that love her and now she has a family of her own she is raising. “In all honesty I think there is no right way to deal with death. I think the only thing you can do is have incredible people surrounding you, that you can count on and just talk through whatever it is you are feeling.. The pain will never be fully gone, but I know one day I'll see my momma again, and for now she is looking down on me, smiling at the woman I have become.”
Thank you L.S. for this moving story.
- a the word changes contributor