“Your life is probably chaotic, and nothing really makes any kind of sense.” ~ Dancing At The Crossroad.
This was me six years ago. On November 28, 2010, I was awakened by a phone call that shattered my world. It was the kind of phone call you are never prepared for, the kind that, years later, still has your heart racing every time the phone rings in the wee hours of the morning.
It was 5:30 am. I wasn’t expecting any bad news. I just thought it was my Mom calling to chat, her usual early morning routine while she was having her tea. But this morning was different because my Mom was no longer here to chitty chat.
The night before we had such a fun conversation and she rushed me off the phone to talk to her other friends. We committed to catching up the next day, but there would be no tomorrow.
My Mom…the active, lively soul who had single-handedly raised me was no longer here.
Everything about my life up to that point in time made sense. I was devastated. Every phone call I missed, every conversation I cut short, every opportunity to talk and catch up with her came back to haunt me, and I knew then it wasn’t going to be pretty.
All I could think of was the time I wasted with her. All my rebellious teenage days came back to haunt me, and I wasn’t ready…to let her go…to say goodbye. My Mom was the best thing I had in my life. Where others lacked loyalty, she was always there. Where others lacked unconditional love, she personified it. She lived her truth, and whether that meant sometimes hurting my feelings or being blunt about the truth about my life, she did not hesitate to let me know what was on her mind.
I spent months after that fateful day sitting near the ocean just watching the waves come in. It was my only comfort. There was something in the way those waves rolled onto the shore that calmed my spirit. It made me feel close to her in a way. I would do anything to be near her again. Just one more chance to hug her and tell her, “Mom I love you.”
The guilt of not loving her more had caught up with me, and I could not deal with it. Over and over I felt my heart break. I woke every morning with a lump in my throat, swollen eyes from crying myself to sleep the night before and no sense of what the day’s activities would be. I wanted her back. I prayed that God would take me so I could be with her or instead take back every worldly possession I own and send her back, but that’s not the way death works. Death is final, and there’s no negotiating. I battled with this for some time. Grief paralysis I guess.
It took me four years to the day she passed to gather myself up and mentally accept that this was it. I had to find some balance between what I wanted and the reality of what was. She was never coming back, and I could pretend all day long that she might, but the truth was I had to continue on this life journey without her.
In those four years, I fought like hell to keep my regular routine. I think the only thing that was regular was my journaling. I would sit in church happy to be there to give praise, but the more I sang and shouted, the more I wanted to curse at the heavens for this dreaded reality. I would sit among friends at dinner parties and wish that I was somewhere else. I would hear a song as I drove to and from work and break down in my car, sometimes pulling aside because the tears flooded my eyes and I could not see to drive. No day was the same.
I have a high threshold for pain, but the pain from my broken heart brought me to my knees. I didn’t expect anyone to understand then and I still don’t today. Grief is a journey that you walk alone, with no timetable and no sense of when you’ll be in the clear. It was mine alone, and I couldn’t share it because there are no words to express the emptiness you feel when you lose someone dear to you.
I eventually accepted her death and pulled myself together. I had let go of everything, but it was time to manage and do better. So I did what I had to do to deal with my grief. Besides the journaling that had kept me sane for the past few years, I changed a few things:
Changed My Daily Routine
I started meditating. I would wake each morning and just sit in silence to calming music and let my mind empty itself. Then I would fill it with intentions and positive thoughts for my day ahead. I also started listening to podcasts. I became a big fan of Wayne Dyer and Caroline Myss. I took action and did things differently. One day at a time because I could not channel much more than that.
Set Goals For Myself
I set small goals, ones I know I could achieve without much hesitation. So whether it was reading a book in a week, or committing to riding my bike a few miles every day, I did it because it gave me the confidence I needed to level up to bigger tasks and loftier goals.
Challenged Myself To Do Something Big
I created an extreme challenge in my head and took the first step in achieving it. Because I was already journaling, it was easy to take my notes and compile them into a book. It started out as a personal project then became a book that I shared with the world – Dancing At The Crossroad – A Grief Recovery Journal. I know one thing it did was release my fear of telling my story because the deeper got into it, the more I began to own it.
Trusted My Instincts
What I learned from doing meditation and going inward is that I have a compass within me to guide and give me direction. Once I learned to tap into that source, I execute only when it feels right to me, and I trust that only those projects I need to work on are brought to my attention. So far, the source had led me to some incredible places, and I love it.
These days I am much better. I still miss her. Always will. She walks with me in everything I do, and everything I do is for her honor.
In March this year, I received a brilliant review from African Voices magazine for my book. It took me back to that fateful day in 2010. Out of my pain, I published a book about my experience losing her and then leaving her behind. It was captured perfectly in print. I cried all day, uncontrollably, because her departure from life had brought me this glory. It was bittersweet! I still want her beside me as I collect my accolades, but I understand now that every cocoon produces a beautiful butterfly. It is just a fact of life. Some die for others to fly, and as sad as that might be it is our reality. RIP Mom.