My mother died two years ago.
It was unexpected and very sudden and it’s one of those things that happened in my life that I still cannot seem to move on from.
One day in January 2018 I called my mom from work because she had a doctor’s appointment and I wanted to know how it went. I was in a long-distance relationship then, and while on the phone call my mom said she’d talk to me at home because she was tired. I was a bit taken aback because we usually had short phone calls throughout the day and this was shorter than short.
I think if you read about people crying all the time you won’t really be concerned, but I hardly cried before 2018. I was very cheerful, very driven, very sharp, very confident, and I spent equal amounts of time with my mom and friends. I was social and I knew how to be a friend and a cool daughter.
I called my then boyfriend immediately after that phone call, and in between sobs I told him I was gonna lose my mom. I didn’t know when I’d lose her or how I knew, but I knew I was losing her. He was probably puzzled and didn’t understand my phone call, because she was not sick, the year was just starting, I was in hysterics and when I got home I just cried throughout dinner.
It was a really stressful time for me then. I am the youngest of three kids. I’m a lot more closer to my brother because, probably we’re practically the same age, and my sister is a bit of a dimwit lost in her own world. You always have to explain cause-and-effect to her, and during critical times I would wonder how the fuck we’re related.
I pulled my mom out of the first hospital that treated her, put her in a second one (one I go to for my mental health problems) and two days later the doctor wanted to talk to me. The prognosis was bad. 3-6 months. The doctor cried when he told me. We were standing outside the room they wheeled my mom in. It was a Friday evening.
I told the doctor I’d like to talk to my brother first and I’d rather tell him in person. He was coming after work.
I just sobbed on my brother’s shoulder for what seemed like hours after I told him. I just turned 30, I said over and over. Life is not fair.
I don’t want to tell you what happened the night my mom died but she died on the Tuesday after I’d been told her prognosis was 3-6 months. She wasn’t the only person who died that night. A huge part of me did, too. I arranged her funeral in the middle of the night and had to entertain funeral guests who kept crying and saying I looked and sounded just like her. I did not cry at all in front of people. I mostly grieved in private. Got back to work in about 6 calendar days. But life wasn’t the same anymore.
I did tell a few of my friends about her death, how she died, why she died, how we knew she was gonna die. Repeated the story so many times.
Whoever I knew after 2018 I don’t really tell this story to them except maybe S, because it’s none of their business, and I just don’t really like to talk about it to strangers who didn’t know her. Even when F asked me about it I just gave a nonchalant shrug and told him she died, end of story, and then went back to bed.
Before this COVID-19 blew up in our faces I told myself this was the year I would finally step outside and regain some semblance of the person I was before 2018. I should remember how it was to be social? Apparently I didn’t. I don’t like crowds. I have absolutely no patience to sit through dinner at very noisy places. I always want to be home. Then now the whole world is bursting at its seams and I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore.
The first Mother’s Day after she died was the toughest. I flew out to Sydney the week before that. Everywhere in Sydney there were signs about wonderful gifts to get mothers from well-designed cards to clothes to flowers to bags. I remember I walked back from Dymocks at George Street and just slept and slept and slept. Cried for a while and slept again. I liked Mother’s Day before that because it was a tradition for my mom to buy me a gift (I bullied her into it, not the other way around :p ) and we’d just spend the whole day together. I had never worked on her birthday before she died except one year when I was really busy. I still think about that day sometimes. I know it doesn’t make a difference but it would have been great if I knew how to chill.
This Mother’s Day (last week) my friend wrote me a message saying “Happy Mother’s Day to our mommas in heaven” and I just didn’t reply. I replied about other things. I wasn’t especially sad, no more than usual, and her own mom had died when we were in our teens. My friend was just a year away from university, and her mother had died in a terrible traffic accident.
I don’t know how to finish this post. I can’t even tell you things are gonna be OK when you lose a loved one. Because despite trying to be OK about it, and I tried a lot of things: talking about it, not talking about it, learning new things, taking a break, trying to be on top of my mental health, not taking my medicine. Nothing works. It is not a matter of “accepting” it. I am just still struggling a lot, and I could take all the medicine in the world to feel a little less pain, but I will just come right out and say it’s too much to take sometimes. So I really don’t know.