“Growing up as an only child was a little different from most of the people I knew. My friends had their siblings that played the role of their best friends and their worst enemies. I had my parents. Therefore, I was much closer with my mom and dad than anyone else I knew. I don’t remember ever going through that ‘I hate you, I’m embarrassed by you’ stage. Sure, we fought and bickered. My mom and I argued like sisters half of the time, especially during my teenage years. But nevertheless, I was never embarrassed by my parents. I loved spending time with them. They were always my favorite people.
My house became the house that was everyone’s second home. My friends would come in and out all the time and they all LOVED my parents. Sometimes, I think they liked them more than their own. I told my mom everything. She was my best friend. She was my stronger half. She knew me better than I knew myself. I was lucky. I had a great childhood, a great family, and overall a pretty incredible life.
However, on a spring day in 2012, my life changed forever. I was on my way out the door for school (I commuted to the local state college and still lived at home) while my parents frantically were coming down the stairs. The entire left side of my mom’s body was numb, and they didn’t know what was going on. My dad was taking her to the hospital. They insisted they would keep me updated and to go to school and keep myself busy.
My dad wouldn’t tell me anything over the phone or by text and insisted he would meet me at home. Let me tell you, if someone insists they have to talk in person, it definitely isn’t going to be a good conversation.
‘Mom isn’t going to be coming home from the hospital for a while. She is really sick.’
The words that will remain such a vivid part of my memory for the rest of my life. He had just sat me down and explained that they found multiple tumors in her brain.
‘She is going to have emergency brain surgery in the morning and they will be running tests to find out if it is anywhere else, and to find out what kind of cancer we are dealing with,’ he added.
I sat there screaming, hyperventilating and wondering what the [heck]l I would do for the rest of my life without a mom.
The next few days (and months if I’m really being honest) were an absolute blur. My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic melanoma with the cancer in almost all of her organs. For a while, I lived in a ton of denial. I drank (a lot) and completely avoided any and all emotions of what was happening around me. There’s no way this was happening to me and my family. There is no way this could be real.
Well, in fact it was real. Contrary to my family and I’s wishful thinking, my mom was not going to be the ‘miracle.’ She didn’t beat the odds, and she died almost 7 months exactly to the date of her initial hospitalization.
So, there I was. That same only child who loved my parents endlessly, but this time at 19 years old trying to figure out how I would go on in a world without my mom in it.
The initial days (and months) were somewhere in between a blur and an emotional roller coaster. I remember very little about her funeral. I know that my friends and family were there. I remember friends traveling home from all of their different colleges to be there for me.
However, as much as I loved the support and everyone wanting to ‘be there,’ there was very little they could do. Honestly, at that time, the only people who could be even a little bit of help were those who had lived through something similar. There was nothing about this feeling that my friends could understand. There was nothing they could say to help, and nothing they could say to make this horrible situation any better.
I quickly got very close to the few people in my town who had been through a similar experience. I opened up to the people who had lost a parent before me, and literally nobody else. In my mind, they were the only people who could even try to help me navigate through this. Honestly, those people made all the difference. They were the ones who got me through (and honestly are still a text away to get me through different situations to this day.)
It has been a long (but also really fast) 7 years. 7 years filled with many highs, lows and everything in between. It took me a while to get where I am today. It took a lot of negative coping mechanisms, trial, error, therapy sessions, and a whole lot of finding myself and where I fit in this world without my biggest supporter here to go through it with me.
My dad has been everything. Through all the highs and lows, at the end of the day he has been there for me. He has so selflessly made so many sacrifices for me and to this day, still does. I don’t know how I would have gotten through all of this without him.
I graduated college on time. I went straight to grad school to get my Master’s in social work, diving into a career path to help others who have to go through this same negative reality. I also started a blog which has 100% saved my life. I needed to find a purpose. I needed to find something to get lost in. It has helped me through my grief in ways I cannot even begin to try and explain.
Not every day is easy. In fact, I’m not sure the bad days will ever really completely stop. There is constantly a new milestone or hardship that my mom isn’t here for. There is always going to be something she is going to miss. And those are things I don’t believe ever get easier.
Grief is a rollercoaster. Every single day brings the opportunity for new pain, or more healing. Although it never gets easy, I promise it won’t hurt as bad as it does right now, forever.”