Today marks five years. That’s 1/6th of my life. It is 1,825 days. It’s a whole boatload of minutes and hours that I have gone without my mom. But the memory of getting the phone call; walking into her hospital room; staring at her shallow breaths for hours; and being woken up to be told she was taking her final breaths, is still so incredibly clear. Those memories aren’t pleasant or easy, so I try so very hard to cling to the joyous ones that I have from childhood through early adulthood: being dressed the same as her on Easter because she thought it was adorable. The ridiculous things she’d say that we now affectionately refer to as “Barb-isms” and still get us laughing from the pit of our stomachs (Did you know you have four ankles? No? Well my mom sure thought so). And the countless days spent at the baseball field, basketball court, football field, and cheerleading competitions—she was always my biggest fan.
Watching my mom battle cancer twice in my life—once when I was in elementary school and once again while in graduate school/post-grad—I learned not to take anything for granted. My mom was the best mom. She was so incredibly in love with my brother and I, and would do anything for us. She was always eager to chat and hear about our life. We’d spend multiple hours on the phone a day when I moved from New Hampshire to Chicago. It took a long time after she passed to break the habit of taking out my phone to call her while walking to the train or walking home from work. When we hurt, she hurt. When we were sick she was right by our bedside nursing us back to health. When we accomplished something, she was in the front row cheering us on with the biggest smile on her face. I never doubted that my mom was there for me no matter what. I hope with every ounce of my being that I can be half the mom she was to my brother and me.
In three short months, my husband and I will be bringing twin boys into the world—yes, that’s two babies. They say that grief is the calendar. From the day my husband and I decided we were going to try to have children, I have constantly had to fight the urge to call my mom. Rationally I know she’s not here—it’s been five years—but emotionally, I want to call her all the time. Sometimes I find myself getting lost in the idea of how excited she’d be when we told her we’re having twins. She’d probably jump out of her chair, almost fall down or at least knock something over (I definitely get my clumsiness from her). Every kick, every ache and pain—I want to call her and share it with her.
Don’t get me wrong, I have the most amazing support network of friends and family who have been so incredible through this journey. So many moms in my life have taken me under their wing and it truly warms my heart and makes the days of grieving much, much easier. I am so fortunate and blessed in that way.
But—and with grief, there is always a but—my mom is not here. She won’t hold our baby boys. She won’t receive a million pictures a day from us. She won’t come stay with me to help me figure out how to keep them alive after they’re born. But the hardest and saddest part for me is my sons will only ever know my mom through photographs and the stories we tell. When there are big milestones and birthdays, I will constantly be reminded that she’s not here. That part will never change, but keeping her memory alive with my boys is something I am excited about, in a bittersweet way.
I’ll strive every day to do you justice, mom. I will never stop talking about you and the stories will be repeated often. I’ll try to be as good a mom as you—you truly taught me how to be the best mom, and I hope I can continue to make you proud.