Six months. Six months since my mom died.
I find death to be such a strange experience, and wholly unique to the individual. I can't speak for others, but I'm taking this six month "anniversary" (is that what it is?) to share what I've felt, what I've learned, and where I go from here.
The idea of my mom actually dying has filled me with dread ever since I was a little girl. I have this vivid memory of laying in bed one night when I was probably 7 or 8 years old and realizing for the first time that my parents were going to die someday. I remember jumping up and running to my mom crying about this new revelation, to which she looked at me calmly and said "yep-we're all going to die one day and that's ok."
She was right.
But needless to say as time went on, and particularly over the last few years as I saw my mom's health declining, I became more and more worried about the inevitable event of her passing. Mom and I were/are close. We talked often and went to lunch every Tuesday for probably the last 15 years. We've never had any big arguments or disagreements and for that I'm grateful (though I think that's probably atypical). I say all this so you understand a little bit about WHY I was so worried about her dying.
Who would I go to for advice?
What would family events look like?
How would my dad do?
How would I handle it??
Here is what I have learned:
1. I miss her every day, but not in a terribly sad way, but in a strange "I can't believe she is dead" sort of way. (Seriously, almost every day either Dave or I say "I can't believe Mom is dead"." It's the oddest feeling.) People ask how I'm doing and I answer "fine"--which is the truth. I'm not overcome with emotion or distraught with grief, but it's just...weird. I mean one day a person is here and the next, they aren't. It takes some getting used to. Almost every day I find myself going to text or call her, and then I realize she probably already knows whatever it is I was going to share with her anyway, but I throw a prayer up to Heaven just to keep her in the loop.
2. Her death has brought my family closer. I have a great family and we all get along. But grief has a way of bringing people together. We text and talk more. We coordinate "taking care of Dad" (and I use that term loosely because my Dad is handling things like a champ). One of the sweetest memories I have of the last six months is the day we spent saying goodbye to Mom and the hours following. There is beauty in death.
3. I can do hard things. Perhaps because I was so fearful of this happening it was almost a relief when it did. Because then you just take a big breath and say "Alright. I can handle this." And you move forward. When I look back to the several weeks surrounding Mom's death I wonder how we managed it--and then I realize that we weren't alone. The Savior was with us and sent angels, both earthly and heavenly, to help.
4.. I know with a surety that I WILL see her again. Not "I hope to see her again." Not "I'm telling myself so I can manage." I 100% know that I will see her again. I honestly can't imagine navigating death if you didn't know this. It would be devastating. Not to trivialize this serious subject but the best way I can describe how I feel is that my mom is on a long vacation and when she gets back, we will catch up. Basically, that's Heaven right? That knowledge is beautiful and freeing and available to all.
I'm grateful for these last six months. For the growth in the midst of trials. For the lessons learned. For the affirmation that life exists beyond this one and that we can be with our loved ones forever. Forever! What peace that gives, and how blessed I am to know it.