2010 Miss Virginia send off party

I can’t even imagine. I’ve heard those words a lot this week.

Two years have passed since my mom died. Two years since I was singing with my brother at the foot of her bed, watching her heart pump vigorously as it struggled to do its job. Two years since I fixated on the rise and fall of her chest for hours, nervously waiting for her breathing to change like I’d read about in hospice pamphlets. Two years since at 3:20 p.m., it changed.

After acknowledging the shortened breaths and gathering everyone upstairs, I held my mom’s right hand and choked out Jesus is Lord alongside my brother, sister-in-law, grandmother, stepdad, and I think a few others- though it’s hard to recall. I vividly remember sensing the exact moment that she left us, but I continued to sing and stare at her chest, willing it to move again. My stepdad finally broke in and said something along the lines of “You guys, I think she’s gone.”

At that moment, I thought something earth-shattering would occur. My mom was no longer here. I couldn’t laugh with her, ask her what to do, feel her hug me, or simply hear her voice. Surely, the world would shift. But nothing happened. Weirdly enough, instead of nothing being the same, everything was the same. I picked up my cell phone to call my dad, and the touch screen worked like it always had. Later that night, my brother’s in-laws made burgers, which tasted like burgers do. The next morning, I woke up early to see my little brother off to his first day of third grade, and all the kids darted onto the bus like normal. Everything was the exact same.

Just like the amazing people who comforted me this week, I couldn’t imagine losing my mom until it actually happened. Seeing the flickers of pain and imagined empathy on the faces of my friends jolted me back to when I was in their shoes, before those final moments I just described.

Imagining the unknown was awful- maybe even more awful than the reality. Don’t get me wrong. Losing your mother is terrible. Most definitely. That part is easy for everyone to imagine, though. What’s not easy to imagine, and what I want to share with everyone reading this, are the parts that stay the same…or even more surprising, the good parts:

I knew I had insanely dedicated friends before my mom passed away, but the amount of texts, calls, and random acts of kindness that I’ve received over the last two years is astounding. The more love I’ve felt, the more I’ve pushed myself to be a better friend in return. I’ve learned how to be effectively supportive of other people through following examples of active compassion shown me, which will undoubtedly make the rest of my life more meaningful, mentally expansive, and fulfilling.

I’ve never struggled with body image to the extreme extent that many young women my age do, but I’ve certainly had my insecure moments. Since losing my mother, however, the way I see my body is drastically different. My mom always made fun of her legs- muscular, short runner legs with varicose veins and calves so big that she could never wear boots. I remember rubbing my mom’s leg as she laid in her hospital bed and thinking how perfect it was. It was hers. They were the legs that I sat on when I was a little girl. They were the legs that jumped up and down when she got excited. They were the legs that patiently stood in the lobby after every pageant and performance as she waited to give me a hug. I now look at my imperfections through those lenses, knowing that my body is a unique shell that the people I love associate with my soul. Those who matter- myself included- don’t value me based on its “beauty” or “flaws,” so bring on the boat parties and makeup-less mornings.

My mom and I had an extremely close relationship, so she gave me tons of advice over the years. I am sure that I could have continued learning from her year after year, but losing the ability to talk to her has forced me to open up to other wise women in my life. I’ve learned far more from my grandmother, stepmom, discipler, and friends’ moms than I would have if I hadn’t lost my primary confidant.

These positives, along with others, exist as a result of losing my mom. Of course I wish she was still here, but life has a way of taking care of you. I still can’t imagine what it’d be like to go through tragedies different from my own, but at least in this case, I’ve found that with the right support system and faith, it’ll all be okay. The whole motivation for this post is the hope that someone, or multiple someones, finds that over-used and under-grasped phrase comforting. It’ll all be okay.

All that’s left for me to imagine about losing my mother is what it was like for her to meet God. I end with that, because it’s a pretty marvelous thing to imagine [<-click].