8:26am on September 16, 2014. By far the worse day of my life. It was the day that every person dreads and/or refuses to consider. It was the day that I lost my #1 fan, supporter, encourager, and friend. It was the day that I lost my mother.
I was in Riviera Maya Mexico from September 11-15 2014. I called my mom on September 11 while in Miami for a layover to tell her that I was on my way and that I would talk to her when I got back on the 15th. I told her that my phone was not going to be on due to international rates, but that I would email my friend Val and have Val to call her and let her know I made it. She asked me to remind her where I was going again, then said "By yourself?!" I informed her of how safe the resort was and how I had researched it to ensure that it was a good place for a solo female traveler. She seemed assured that I was making a good decision and changed the subject to something else. We talked about her boyfriend for a second, then I changed the subject. lol Before we hung up, she told me that she loved me, and I told her the same. Our last conversation lasted 00:01:32. Had I known it would be our last......
I got back to the States around 9pm on September 15. My layover was in Dallas, but I didn't call her initially. I was going to wait until I got back to Nashville because if she was sleep, she would stay up and sit by the phone until she heard from me. Instead, I called a few friends and chatted until the plane boarded. I landed in Nashville around 11:30pm and called her as soon as the plane hit the tarmac. The phone rang and rang. Eventually, it went to voicemail. I figured she had fallen asleep and would call me once she woke up. A bit unusual when she knew I was coming back from a trip, but I didn't think much of it. I went out and met a few friends for drinks and to tell them about my trip, not thinking anything about the fact that my mom still hadn't called back. I got home around 2am and prepared to unpack and catch up on my TV shows that I missed while on vacation. I finally went to sleep around 4am.
My phone rang around 8:15am on September 16, but I didn't even roll over to see who it was. Kind of thought it was my mom, but I said to myself, if its her I'll call her back in a few. A few minutes later it rang again. This time I looked at it and saw that it was my cousin Nikki. I said to myself, I'll call her back when I wake up (Sorry Nikki! lol). But when she called right back, I knew in my heart something wasn't right. She said, "Amber we need you to come home". I asked what was going on, and she repeated it. I again asked her what was wrong. She then said, "Amber. Your mother......she's gone". I blacked out for what seems like forever. Just screaming and throwing sheets, clothes, and whatever else I had in my vicinity. My first thought was, No. I need to hear her voice. NO! I need my mama! I called her home phone and her boyfriend answered and said in a somber voice, "I'm sorry Amber". Then I thought about how when I called her at 11:30 pm she didn't answer because she was already gone. How long had she been there like that? Did she try to call me and I didn't get the call because I was in Mexico and didn't have phone service. What was going through her mind as she laid there on the bathroom floor slipping away? Was she in pain? Did she need me and I wasn't there? Did I fail her? So many thoughts raced through my mind that it left me physically exhausted.
Its been a little over three months since I've laid my mother to rest. It feels as if this emotional roller coaster is finally leveling out a bit. Some moments I'm perfectly fine, smiling at the memory of my mother. Other times, I feel as if I just want to die because it hurts so bad. It took me about two weeks to be able to cook for myself. Cooking was something that we very often shared experiences with. Mostly every day I would call her to remind me of an ingredient that goes into a dish or to ask what cut of meat I should get, etc. It pained me to think that if I made something and needed help that I wouldn't be able to reach her.
People tell me that it will get easier, and I think it will, but I miss my mama so much. We were very, very close. Had fun together, talked about everything, and I loved her so much. My mom loved me unconditionally. She understood me wholeheartedly. She never judged or held a grudge against me. Whenever something good happened, I never had to question the sincerity of her happiness for me. When I did something stupid, she never made me feel bad, but felt her baby's pain. I could call her when having a terrible day and simply say "hey mama", and she immediately asked "what's wrong baby". How am I supposed to move on when that person is gone? Forget cherishing the memories, I need to make more with her. I need her to show me AGAIN how to fold a fitted sheet. I wanted to learn how to make baskets and bows. I need a little help with making dressing and picking out a good pot roast. I need my mama.
I'm 30 years old, no husband, no kids. This means that if God blesses me with either of these, then I will have to experience them without the only person that I want to share them with. This means no motherly advice, no moving to Nashville to help me, no hugs and kisses to my children from their grandmother. How unfair is that?! I know that my mother was suffering and was in pain. I know that she was tired of the hospital visits and doctors, medicines, and depending on others, and maybe I'm being selfish for wanting her here with me, but I do.
I am learning to forgive myself for not being there for her. For not moving her to Nashville when she told me that she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure earlier in 2014. For not being more supportive in helping her change her eating and smoking habits. For not being there when she needed me. I need to forgive myself for having her lay on that cold bathroom floor for 12-24 hours before anyone knew she was gone. Forgive myself for not even knowing the real time that my mother left this earth. I was supposed to be there holding her hand, letting her know that it was OK. I was supposed to be able to tell her goodbye that that I loved her one last time. I should have told her she was beautiful, because she was. Not a wrinkle in sight. Just a few grey hairs regardless of the stress I caused her as a child. Despite how proud of me she was, there was so much more that I should have done. I have to learn to forgive myself for not doing those things.
I allowed myself this entire time to grieve. To feel every emotion that I need to feel. I have not forced myself to feel any certain way. When I want/need to cry, I do. When I need to feel angry, sad, confused, or whatever, I allow myself that opportunity. I tend to be an emotional eater, so I have allowed myself to be that at this time. Unfortunately it has resulted in a 10 lb weight gain, but I'm finally at the point where I am able to re-direct that urge to workout instead of eating (Thank God). But the important thing is that I let myself do what I felt I needed/wanted to do to cope with my emotions. I have always been told how strong of a person I am. I never realized how true that was until now, even though sometimes I don't feel like it.
2014 was an emotional roller coaster for me. I lost my paternal grandmother in June and my mother in September. Aside from that, it was a pretty awesome year. Things are going great on my job, I launched my side hobby Oh Sew Amber, and connected with some pretty awesome people. Working on my hobby really helped me out during my grieving process as well. I turn on my sewing machine, play the soft rock station on Pandora, and float away. Before I know it, hours have passed and I'm in a good mental space.
I wrote all of this to help someone who may be going through a loss by sharing what worked for me while coping with loss. I recommend:
1) Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you feel. Don't try to force emotions. Cry when you need to cry, scream when you feel the urge.
2) Find a healthy outlet. Although I did allow myself to eat like a hog initially, I definitely had to put a time frame on it. Luckily I also have sewing as an outlet. This may be a good time to pick up a hobby if you don't already have one. You'd be surprised how much it helps.
3) Surround yourself around people that will support and encourage you. I am blessed with an AMAZING group of family and friends that were there for me even when I didn't want anyone there. On the day I got the news, I called everyone whose voice would provide comfort to me. Some I hadn't spoken to in a while, but I just needed to hear their voices. Folks will understand.
4) Don't blame yourself. Dealing with the fact that I was laid out on the beach while my mother passed into eternity weighed heavily on me. "I should have been there" was all I could think. It took my cousin to tell me the story of losing her son to grasp the concept of "God's timing". She told me how she sat by his side constantly. Never went anywhere for long periods of time. She said that the one time she decided to leave the house, running to the store to pick up a few items, was when he passed. She told me that it was just his time and that there was nothing she could've done to stop it.
5) But certainly not least, PRAY! Talk to your higher power and say whatever it is you need to say. Just don't neglect to be grateful for having that person in your life and for them leaving the impression that they did in your life. The prayers of others are powerful as well. I honestly believe that the prayers of others are what got me through the first week, because I didn't start praying for myself until the second week after I actually wrapped my mind around everything.
Hope this helps someone. I don't wish the pain of losing a close loved one on anybody, but it happens and we do have to find a way to get through it.