18 years

18 years ago I had no idea this would be the last email or note I would receive from my mom. She died 20 short, but very long, days later. May is still an incredibly hard month for me because it signifies the beginning of the end to the life I’d always known. It aggressively reminds me of a loss I was unprepared to face and a heartache deeper than I thought I could bear.

I will allow the tears to fall when my heart deems necessary. I will mourn this loss all over again and I will feel its jagged edges that threaten to disrupt my life, but I am a different woman now so I will give pause to the pain but continue on in this new life that began the day she died. I am grateful for time’s gentle healing.

I was only 25 when I lost her, when my life was just starting to take shape, and I didn’t know how I could ever possibly move forward without her. I was lost, heartbroken and terrified of this new life. I can still feel the overwhelming pain throughout her cancer diagnosis and quick decline. I sit with this raw pain every single May, allowing myself to grieve the loss of the woman who loved me more fiercely than anyone else ever can, or will, again.

I am a different woman than the one she knew. I have lived 18 years since then. I have earned many titles, scars and achievements she never witnessed but that doesn’t diminish their value, instead, making them more precious to me than they most likely deserve. They serve as  reminders that while life will challenge us in the most cruel of ways, it goes on.

I like to think she would be incredibly proud of the woman I am today. Proud of the journey it took to finally arrive at such a peaceful and fulfilling place. Of my tenacity to keep moving forward during the times I felt as though I was slowly drowning in life’s unpredictable road blocks. That I refused grief the opportunity to consume my future.

It has been 18 years since she has reminded me how very loved and cherished I am. While the pain remains, it has quietly shifted and I find peace in knowing how deeply loved I was by the woman who never missed the opportunity to remind me of this. I will forever hold on to this precious gift.

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