My Angel Mother

by Chloe Lombard

When I was five years old, I can vividly remember driving down the road with my mama when Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton came on the radio. I began to cry, and startled, my mom asked me what was wrong. I looked up at her and asked, “If you die, how will I know who you are when I get to heaven?” She smiled, and said, “You will just know.”

Even at that young of age, the idea of losing my mom was strangely tangible and the most horrifying thing I could imagine. She was my best friend, my everything; she called me her “Velcro” because I was always by her side. When I was 11 years old, my parents separated and my mother had to go back to school so she could get a degree and be able to support us financially. She flourished in her field of study, social work. She specialized in family, child, and addiction counseling. She wanted, more than anything in the world, to help others and make a positive impact on the lives of others. She was an incredibly loving woman and even in the two years she was able to work, she helped countless people.

My mother’s dream of becoming a councilor was finally here, she finally felt relatively secure financially, and she seemed happy. However, after about a year of working she noticed something off about her body, she was not feeling well and she discovered symptoms that should have driven her strait to a doctor. Unfortunately, she had just switched to a new job and her health insurance had not kicked in yet, so she decided to wait. A year later, after losing over 30 lbs in one month, she went to see a doctor. She had Stage IV colorectal cancer, and it had progressed far enough that she was only offered palliative care. She lived two years after her initial diagnosis. She died on 9/24/12, I was 21 years old and she was 45. I watched and did my best to help her as she endured the betrayal of her body. Some days were good, and I cherished those minute. Other days, I wished for her suffering to end, as I simultaneously begged for more time.

Even as she suffered, she spent every ounce of energy she had into making sure I would be prepared for her death. She wrote journal after journal making sure I had something to read when I wanted to feel like she was here. She also wrote me beautiful cards for every major life event that she will not be able to attend in person. Along with the cards she wanted to give me a charm for a charm bracelet she had given me for each of these events. At the time, though, she did not have any expendable income and she grew discouraged, as she really wanted to give me this gift. She started making payments on the charms, and one day she went to make another payment. When she went to make a payment, the sales associate told her that someone had anonymously paid for all the charms. She was so incredibly happy to be able to give me this gift, and we will never be able to thank this amazing individual who made this possible. So far I have received many charms, each marking a major holiday the first year after her death. When I get these charms and her cards, I am reminded of how special I was to her, and how much love she has for me.

The days when I get these small gifts both magnify and alleviate the pain I feel everyday over her loss. They remind me that our lives are short, and love, any love, must come to an end. Love is always bittersweet. I would not be the person I am today without my mama and her love, but she will never get to see the gifts she has given me, or how her love will continue to guide me and shape my life. This realization, that I have only been able to verbalize just now, is what allows me to get up in the morning and strive to be the best me I can be. I know that despite how I may feel about God or death from day to day, one thing remains constant: the love we share with other human beings immortalizes us. One day we will all die, but the impact our love has on those we leave behind will ensure that we live on, and we will continue to be a vital part of this world. We will all be there, guiding those that come after us, not just through the knowledge or discoveries we bring to the world, but simply by giving the most simple gift of all, love.

I know I will continue to be sad, likely for a very long time. Some nights I cannot sleep, some days I cannot eat, other days I cannot stop eating. There are times when I would do nearly anything to escape the pain of my loss. There are days when I feel like I wish it could all end. I often get angry at everything and anything. I feel like throwing things for almost no reason at all. I burst into tears at the drop of a hat, often at inappropriate times. One of the hardest things about all of this, is that I know I am not healing fast enough for everyone else. I know I let people down because I am overwhelmed and cannot snap back to the "old me" as fast as they want me to. I also know that the old me is never coming back. I know that I am forever changed, and any healing I do will not be to return to my previous state of being, but rather to shape whatever person I chose to be.

For the first time in my entire life, I am choosing to ignore what everyone else thinks about how I am dealing with my mama's death, because this is my process, and I am going to take as much time as I please to heal myself. I know I may let people down, I may not live up to their expectations, but I know I will be living up to mine. No one can tell you how to grieve, so don't let them. They may have empathy, they may have gone through something similar and can help guide you through this process, but no one will truly understand the pain any of us feel individually, and thus cannot tell us how or how fast we should heal. I do not know if reading this will help other people with their grief, but reading many of the stories on this site has given me comfort this evening, as has writing this post.

Comments for My Angel Mother

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Apr 17, 2013
Standing by her side.
by: Anonymous

I am so sorry for your loss hun, I feel for you. My mam died just 2 months ago :( after a 12 year battle with cancer. I cant even put into words how hard she tried throughout the years to stay with us. She was first diagnosed in 2001, I was to young to understand, but she coped so well noone could tell she was ill. She had 5 happy years clear of cancer. But then it came back in her bones :( My mum was much more than my mum, she was my best friend, its difficult to describe the bond between a mother and daughter. She died holding my hand as i soothed her out of her pain. I felt so happy in the moments after her death that it was over. That last month in hospital had been hell on earth, to see what lifes cruelty can do to such a strong, kind and courageous woman was heartbreaking, seeing her in pain was unbearable :( I recently had my 21st birthday, we had planned a lovely family get together :( Loosing a mother is like loosing a saftey net, a best friend, deep understanding between two people that can never be shared between anyone else :( Much love to you all, having a bad night xxxxx

Apr 12, 2013
My Angel Mother
by: Doreen U.K.

Chloe what a lovely post you wrote of your mom and the beautiful person she was and her delightful spirit. You had a mom who loved you so much and lavished attention on you.
It is so sad that she died at such a young age and didn't get to fulful her career. She would have trained hard to do this work and found much fulfilment in her career. I worked in a counselling centre for 8yrs. and found the work to be very interesting and very satisfying.
I lost my husband to cancer 11 months ago and know only too well what a painful and lonely journey this is for all of us on this site. WE gain strength for the post's of other's with histories just like yours. You are right no one can tell you how and when to grieve. You are a very articulate young woman and will go on in life to emulate the life your mother left you in her legacy and how she lived. Thank you for your story and every Blessing to you in life.

Apr 11, 2013
An amazing daughter
by: Sob

Dear Chloe,

I am so sorry for your loss. Your mother was truly an amazing mother and a great human being. And you are an amazing daughter yourself.
I couldn't hold back tears when I read how your mother died. Like you, I too lost my mother to colon cancer on 11th of July last year. She fought bravely for almost 3 years until she just couldn't fight anymore. Today marks 9 months of her passing. I lay on bed all day long. I just cried. I just couldn't do anything else. I don't know how people say time heals. For me nothing seems to be getting better. We were as close as any mother and daughter could be and it breaks my heart when I think she won't be there with me anymore. I still cannot manage a smile, let alone a laughter. I cannot step outside the house since everything and every place reminds me of her and I just cant bear it.
You are right when you say you will take your own time to heal. Nobody will understand your pain except you. And only you will know how to deal (or not to deal) with it. People would want you to 'get over it' or act normal again. But only you would know how difficult it would be for you to make it through the whole day. I was tortured by my own relatives for grieving over my mum's death. I was told I was showing attitude to people, just because I couldn't talk. I was accused of being snnobish, just because I didn't smile or laugh on special occasions just like everyone else. I was called rude, just because I stayed in my room and lied down all day long. I was told I think very highly of myself, just because I didn't call people to ask about their well being.
I should be consoling you but instead I started mentioning my own issues. I hope you find the right kind of people to share your grief with. If you don't, then you may find some solace in writing down your thoughts or feelings. I do the same.
Losing a mother is the world's biggest loss and no one can tell how long they will take to heal. Nobody heals completely. The gap will always remain. No one can replace a mother. But maybe some day you will learn to live with this pain.
I send you love and hugs. Feel free to write back to me.

Apr 11, 2013
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for your courageous post. You have really helped to lift my broken heart for a few minutes. The way that you wrote about living life shaped as your mother's daughter really stuck with me.

I appreciate your story and am thankful that you have chosen to share it.

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