2018: The Year I Lost My Mother
Believe it or not, I haven’t written an actual article since maybe February of this year. The last piece I wrote longer than an Instagram post, was my mother’s eulogy. In the midst of the most difficult moments of my life, I was able to muster the strength and energy to bring a little bit of my mother to life with words. I did it with all the love in my heart and delivered it bravely in front of everyone in attendance at both her funeral and memorial service in Trinidad.
But immediately after that, everything shut down and my writing voice went into hibernation. On several occasions, I sat in my neighborhood coffee shop with my laptop, typing sentences and deleting them. I started blog posts, but never finished them. The book I had been working on was put on the shelf. Nothing came out right. Nothing could really communicate the grief, shock, anger and sadness that I was living. I just didn’t have the words.
I tried my best to go about everyday life, especially for the sake of my two children. My son started a new school and my daughter a new school year. All these changes came with challenges which I had to face in spite of my grief. On some days I picked up the phone, wanting to tell my mother about the cute thing that my little one had just said, to complain about their latest embarrassing temper tantrums, or just to ask for some advice. Then I remembered that she was gone, and I felt an emptiness in the pit of my stomach.
Often, I found myself crying at the most inopportune times. I would burst in to tears just as I reached the top of the pick-up line at my kids’ school. I felt a little bit ashamed as I greeted teachers with disheveled hair (mind you it’s always a bit disheveled now that I’m au-natural) and tear stained cheeks. Sometimes, it happened in the middle of church, and other times I cried randomly as we drove from one weekend event to another. Would I ever be anything other than a hot mess? Sometimes I managed to put on a brave face and made it to networking lunches, school activities and business meetings. But it felt like I was really just going through the motions.
One night at bedtime, several months after her passing, my five-year-old son seemed to finally come to the realization that his granny was gone forever. He sobbed softly into my arm for several minutes before finally drifting to sleep. My heart shattered all over again.
In this time that I found myself unable to write, I filled the void on I Speak Mom with articles from generous contributors. They poured heartfelt honesty about motherhood onto the blog. I was and am so grateful to these amazing women for sharing their stories. But after a while, even that became too much of a mission for me in my grieving state. I started to wonder if I even wanted to do this at all. What was the purpose of it anyway? Did anyone even care if I posted or not? Would anyone even miss it? I found myself questioning everything and anything that mattered in my life. With much less enthusiasm, energy and sparkle than in previous years, I barely pulled off our family’s annual fundraiser for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
I had lost my stability, my lifeline and the person who cared about me most for all of my life, even if I didn’t always see it that way in my youthful ignorance. The floor below me crumbled and I spun around and around in desperation, like a lost child in a crowded mall. How could I possibly write a blog about motherhood when I had lost the woman who taught me how to be a mother? As I hung her ornaments on my tree this year, I remembered how annoyed I was last Christmas when she gave them to me, and told me that she wouldn’t be here for another one. I didn’t want to believer her.
So, this Christmas came and went with big plans to get back into writing. but when the foggy sadness crept in, there was no room for writing of any kind.
I’m not sure at what point things turned around in my heart and got clearer in my head. Perhaps it was the tiny signs here and there that maybe this voice and this platform is helpful and worthy after all. Or, it might have been just a few days ago when I had a dream about her. We met somewhere in transit. I don’t really remember exactly where. But it was a brief and joyful meeting. She greeted me with a warm hug and a big smile. Her glowing skin was illuminated in the sunlight. She was happy, healthy and as beautiful as ever. When I woke up, I felt for certain that she is in a better place and no longer suffering. She is free from the grip of the awful disease that took her from me…and she wanted me to be free as well. She wanted my sisters and I to live our destiny without the crippling pain of her absence.
So in 2019, I will live my best life in honor of the most inspiring woman I ever met, the one who took her future in to her own hands at just 11 years old. I will boldly and bravely go after my dreams just as she did. I will show up for my life every day. I will love my children fiercely and hold them to high standards. I will write my heart out and share it, regardless of who reads it or likes it. I will love myself and take care of my body and mind so that I have the energy to be all that I can be. I will put the word “no” into practice, recognizing that I don’t have to please everyone. I will politely allow people with toxic energy to exit my life. I will accept all the love and friendship that comes my way and easily turn away from the “excluders” and the “naysayers.” When I fall down, I will allow myself a moment and get back up.
2019 is going to be amazing because I chose it to be that way. It doesn’t hurt that a beautiful angel in heaven will always have my back.
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© Nicola Rios Nogales and ispeakmom.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Rios Nogales and ispeakmom.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.