Three years ago today my mother died. There is a finality in that sentence, dear friends. It was an ending, and a very difficult, traumatic ending. But it was also, for me, a beginning. It was the beginning of a new life journey for me, because my mother's death changed me. It changed everything.
My mother was in her 80's, but her death was unexpected. She had been in good health, so the phone call from my sister saying that she had been rushed into intensive care came as a shock. I flew home the next day, and the ensuing days passed in a blur of anxiety and grief, and pain. I thought I was handling it well - I thought I was okay. I was anything but okay.
After the funeral I came back to my home city, a province away from the city where my mother had lived and where I grew up. I thought life would go back to normal - that I would grieve but that I would get over it, that nothing significant would change. After all, I had lost my father three years before, and I had recovered from that. I underestimated what losing my mother would do to me.
I won't go into the details as I've written about them before, but I spiralled into a depression, a bleakness I had never known before. I suffered strange ailments, and I lost a tremendous amount of weight (being overweight this did not imperil but was worrisome all the same). Finally, my husband stepped in. He saw that I was drowning, and he threw me a lifeline. He sent me to see a therapist, and it likely saved me from spiralling even further.
During the therapy sessions I made a decision. I decided to live. I decided to live with joy, and excitement, and anticipation. I decided to make every moment count, because you don't know how many moments you have left (none of us do, really). I decided to treat life as an adventure, not as something to fear. And I began to change yet again, stopping that downward spiral and climbing instead. I decided to take that worrisome weight loss and make it something good - and began going to the gym regularly. I began to eat better, laugh more, and hug freely. I had always loved my daughter, and my husband. But it intensified as I recognized how brief our time on this planet can be, and I held them, and my sisters, even closer to my heart.
And then, last year, I began a new adventure. I began writing again, first this blog, then another blog, and then I started to get paid to write other things. I rediscovered a dormant passion, and I discovered an entirely new world. I made new friends, embraced new ideas, and became involved in new adventures. That life adventure I began after my mother's death grew in ways I never anticipated, and led to where I am today, three years later. And it astonishes me.
I have always had a wonderful life, with an amazing husband and a daughter that I think, in my biased way, is close to perfection. I've always had incredible family support from my sisters, and I have been blessed with friends who love me despite my foibles and idiosyncrasies. In the last year, however, my life has become full and rich beyond all my expectations. My universe expanded in ways that I didn't even think were possible. And the funny thing is it all began for me with the most tragic of events. It all began when my mother died.
There were bleak moments in that first year when I thought I would never get over her death, never get past the pain, never again find the light and live forever in the dark. There were times in the second year when I saw the light glimmering in the distance, when I could see that I had begun to grasp something that was leading somewhere. And in this, the past year, I found myself bathed in that light. I found myself surrounded by new friends, new experiences, new adventures - and yet still in the loving arms of my husband, my daughter, my extended family, and my friends. It has been a journey that I could have never predicted.
This is the very first anniversary since my mother's death when I can say that I am okay. I still miss her - oh, how I miss her! But I think this year I have found some healing. I think this year I realized that the most tragic of events can set you on a trajectory that can change your life. This year I discovered that you can take something that has almost broken you entirely and not only heal from it but use it to make yourself happier than you ever imagined. This year I found the light. And I think maybe it was my mother's very final gift to me, dear friends.