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My First Mother’s Day Without My Mother

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Grief. If you Google it, you’ll get pages of results of blogs, memes, poems and articles. There are many references about feeling like you’re drowning, and, every now and then, you get to come up for air.

Here’s the thing: People expect you to just move on after a couple weeks like everything’s fine. Or they avoid you.

I think this is a conversation that needs to be had. The process. The physical pain, the shock (even when it’s expected), the overwhelming sadness and depression and the guilt.

My mother died on January 30. I literally feel like I have a 5-pound weight sitting on my windpipe. (Maybe that’s where the drowning comparison comes from.)

She had a rare cancer. She beat it, and it reoccurred just months later. I knew it wasn’t good. It was very aggressive, and I was told her chances of recovery would be zero. But we had time. The doctor said we had time. She died in the night of what we assume was a blood clot. Alone. The guilt I feel is overwhelming. Now Mother’s Day is coming up.

When I’m asked how I am, I try not to lie. I’m not doing well. It makes people uncomfortable, I know. I don’t really care. I’m not doing well, and that should be OK. Why is there a time limit?

I’m blessed to be able to stay at home during this process. Sometimes I’m able to laugh, smile, get dressed and shower. Sometimes I stay in bed all day and cry. Most days look like that for me. I miss her. I miss her smell and her voice. I miss knowing I can call her and ask her advice.

Then I realize I will never have those things back. Ever. If something good happens, it almost makes it worse because I can’t call her. So I stay at home as much as possible and lie in the pit of misery that is my life right now.

This will be my first Mother’s Day without my mother. I don’t know what the day will look like, but I certainly won’t be on social media. I don’t think I can see all the beautiful pictures of mothers and daughters.

I’m jealous. I said it. I’m jealous of all of you who still have your moms. Death isn’t fair or kind. Please don’t say, “Everything happens for a reason.” There’s no reason my mom got cancer. She never smoked, she was healthy and yet she’s dead. Dead. Not passed away.

For all of you who are motherless this Mother’s Day, I’m sorry. So very sorry. We’ll get through it. We don’t really have a choice. It’s OK not to be OK. From what I understand, it’s a process, and it never gets better. You just get used to it. Please don’t let anyone push you into being OK. Feel what you feel. Cry when you need to. I am.

Love you, Momma. Forever.

Riley Lee, right, with her mother

Originally published: May 4, 2016
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