I was in a deep conversation with my roommates last night that somehow lead to the topic of death. I usually feel small when death creeps its way into my sentences. I often unconsciously take myself down a notch. I’m somehow a little less loud. But my ears are suddenly bigger. I’m always interested in what people have to say about death. I’m not always so vocal out it myself. (keep in my mind I’m still getting to know my roommates)
My roommate said she doesn’t have a whole lot of experience with death. She says it “freaks her out” and she gets uncomfortable at funerals or just at the thought of losing a loved one. I’m always a little more sensitive when people mention their parents. Whenever they talk about their parents positively or negatively. But especially their mothers. She said, “I would literally die without my mom.”
I was like that too.
Before death punched me in the stomach with no remorse.
I wanted to tell her that she wouldn’t literally die if her mother died. But who am I to tell her that? She wouldn’t believe me. I didn’t. Not until I woke up the next day after my mom died. And woke up the next day after that. And the next day, and every day after.
And even almost 11 years later I still have moments of disbelief where I freeze to catch my breath. I inhale the thought that she’s not here and exhale with the reassurance that she hasn’t been for years.
Sometimes I verbally have to remind myself. And I don’t know if that will ever go away.
There are nights where I look up into the vast clear sky and spot a sparkling star and think it’s her. Or I see a leaf floating in my path and I say “Hi” because I’ve convinced myself it’s my mother cheering me on. I sometimes listen to a song on repeat for an entire day because I picture the two of us singing it at the top of our lungs on the karaoke machine. I do these things without even noticing sometimes. It’s often second nature. It makes me feel a little less lonely. Sometimes I just like keeping her close by. In the sky. In a leaf. In music. I just like to pull her out of my pocket and feel her for a little while.
I know I’m not alone. And it’s not like I haven’t lived my life without her. If anything I’ve lived it even more in honor of her. I know she would want me to be the happiest I could be. But I think I do these things to somehow feel closer to her. Because the thought of completely losing her is unconscionable.
I always want to remember details about my mother that I can share with those I love the most in my future. I want to keep her memory alive. And I would be lying if I said I remember every detail. I’m doing my best to write everything down. I am trying to keep a record of how I feel about her. What I remember about her. Who she was to me. But mostly I’m just playing a guessing game. I mainly just remember how much she wanted to be my mom, forever. And I go off of that.
I remember crying in her arms at 12, begging her to stay. And she was sobbing telling me how much she wanted to.
I know she loved me. She told me in the way she yawned loudly in the morning to wake me up. In the way she rubbed my feet. In the way she allowed me to be myself. In the way she settled my anxieties. And did everything she could to be the best mother she knew how to be. And so on most days I wear pants with pockets so I can pull her out and be thankful for the wise words, acts of kindness and outpouring love she gave me.
And so the only thing I could tell my roommate was:
“Death isn’t scary. What’s scary is not living our life to the fullest in fear of losing the ones we love. Don’t let death scare you. Let it motivate you.”