I am a grown orphan . . . or at least that’s how it feels.
I know technically the definition of an orphan is a person, specifically a child, who has lost both parents. I’m very fortunate that I still have my amazing father. Without my mother, though, I still feel like a grown orphan.
It was too soon to lose her.
I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared, and now I will never be the same. Nothing will ever be the same.
It has been nine months since she passed away unexpectedly. Nine months: the same amount of time a woman prepares for the birth of a child; yet, nothing has prepared me for how to live without a mother. Nothing has taught me how to grieve.
The sting of her absence comes and goes. I have days I think about her in passing, and I find joy in the moments we had together. Then, I have days when I cry in secret, and my broken heart beats a little slower.
How am I supposed to be a mother without my mom around?
I have spent the last 72 hours caring for my youngest after her tonsil surgery. I’ve been a full-time nurse: pushing fluids, giving round-the-clock cuddles, and scheduling medications. I’ve walked around embracing the moments of cuddles while feeling this gaping hole. The lack of her presence is devastating. She would have been by my side caring for me while I cared for my girl. Even with an amazing family and wonderful friends for support, I can’t help but still feel like a grown orphan. No one can take the place of my mother. How am I supposed to be a mother without my mother around?
I am mad at myself for being so aware of her absence when I should have been more aware when she was present.
I should have soaked up more moments, made more time for her, and listened a little longer to her voice. Even within the last year, my mother had shown up and held my hair back while I puked. She did piles of my laundry. She babysat my girls countless times. Her best quality was, hands down, her ability to care for me. Her health had declined, but even when she didn’t feel well herself, she still showed up when I needed her.
We never talked about the deep and personal things like I had longed for. We didn’t have the close-knit, tell my mom everything type of relationship. Instead, we had the work hard and show up for one another type of relationship. That’s why in moments like these when I see my baby restless in a hospital bed, I feel alone, broken, and like a grown orphan.
The emptiness of not having a mother makes me feel like an orphan. I know that is silly to say out loud. The truth is I have the very best of friends and a wonderful family who have supported me 100% of the time. My family is extremely blessed.
Even in my gratefulness, I still miss my mother.
Over the last few days, my 3-year-old has literally just become an extension of me. While her father is typically her favorite, she has refused to leave my side. The only thing that has brought her comfort is me, her mother. And I feel her pain, I want my mother, too.
I guess the best thing I can learn from this is that every tiny act, every dose of Tylenol, every wiped chin, every nap-time cuddle will not be forgotten. It will be the legacy I leave behind one day. While I feel orphaned and miss my mother greatly, I chose to embrace these moments in motherhood. What a privilege I have to be here, to be present, and to love my children well.
Previously published on the author’s blog