Having lost my mum at the age of 9 you would assume that by now I have moved on. I compartmentalized my emotions all through my childhood and teenage years. I confronted this trauma in my twenties. Having a strong and patient support system who values open communication and helps you go deep into your core eases you to slowly open up the little boxes suppressed in the corners of your brain. So once I felt safe enough to open these boxes I embarked on my healing journey. Contrary to how my peers might have experienced me, I was a hurting child carrying burdens I didn’t have words for. I masked all my trauma because there was no space to deal with it.
There was a lot that surrounded the death of my mother. Whispers here and there. Not being told what exactly took her life. I know now that it was cervical cancer. I only got to know this when I joined high school. And knowing very little of this killer disease which I knew could be hereditary, fear crept into me. I was often afraid that I had greater chances of developing it. So when my breast started to form I constantly kept checking for lumps and I was silently suffering from this anxiety. I didn’t open up to anyone. I developed an intense fear of the future, a fear of the unknown.
My mother was terminally ill. Cancer comes with depression. And I watched her in this state without a wholesome understanding of what this meant. Me losing her shattered me beyond comprehension. Weirdly, grieving her was associated with shame. I felt shame for having lost her. And so I never talked about her. I kept it all inside and cried every night under the blankets in my tiny school bed.
My mother died in her early thirties. I have had dark thoughts that that will happen to me too. This is a fear born out of trauma. I know I have to fight and overcome this fear. I know I love children and at some point in my life I was obsessed to have them, but now this fear keeps coming. That child that lost her mother is scared to leave her children that young. Some of you don’t realize how insensitive you are when you keep telling other women to have children. You have no clue what they are battling. Not to say that this is the only reason I have not become a mother. There are of course other factors involved.
This trauma changed me. It influenced who I have become. It’s crazy that it has been 22 years since she breathed her last goodbye and sometimes I tell myself to move on. When I unboxed my feelings a few years ago I felt free. I felt gratitude. I felt amazing embarking on a healing journey. Some days I miss her so much. Some days I don’t think about her. Some days I celebrate the short time we had. Some days I celebrate who she was. I don’t want to ever forget her. I love the days when I look in the mirror and see her reflection. I love the things that I am that I know came from her.
I have learned that grief is personal. This means it looks very different from person to person. There is no normal or abnormal way to rightfully mourn or grieve. Grieving has no timeline. On some anniversaries, I have bawled my eyes out, on some I have quietly gone about my day as normally as could be, and on some, I have gone out to celebrate my loved ones’ birthdays born on this day. Today I just hope for it to be graceful.