There is no love like a mother’s love. On this day, I always find myself thinking about the beautifully intrinsic relationship my mom and I shared. I think about the things my mom sacrificed for me. She slaved for me, celebrated me, provided for me, but most of all she loved me in spite of my ugliness. By ugliness, I mean that ugly behavior and attitude that likes to show itself every once in a while (those close to me know what I’m talking about). Well, in December 2011, my mom passed away from a nasty brain tumor, called Glioblastoma. Every Mother’s day since has been a little different. I notice that as this day approaches, I subconsciously begin to pull away from people; desiring to be alone while becoming entranced in this “dream-like” state where I somehow walk around without any thoughts in my head. The littlest of things will bring on a tidal wave of emotions and I easily cry, get offended, and am overall sensitive to everything and everyone around me. As if my body and mind have been hijacked, I feel like a passenger to my life. I start behaving in weird ways, thinking self-destructive thoughts and quickly move from extrovert to introvert. My relationships begin to suffer and I am dumbfounded as to what is going on with me. However, like clockwork, on the weekend of Mother’s Day it dawns on me that I am acting this way because I miss my mom.
I had been walking around taking in the sight of Mother’s day decorations, Mother’s Day gift ideas, hearing about Mother’s Day on the radio and so whether I acknowledged it or not consciously, I had already developed feelings about this day in my subconscious. Around Mother’s day, the simple thought of my mom brings on an avalanche of emotions that range from irritability to deep sadness. This year the same pattern began, but I caught onto it early.
This year, I choose to celebrate her whether she is here or not. I can honestly say that I am happy for my mother. She is in a much better place and free of all the pain and suffering she endured on earth. I know a lot of people say that and it sounds like a bunch of bull shit, but I mean it. I understood early on that we as humans are merely energy forms, spiritual beings living in a human vessel – having experiences in a physical world. My mom never died, her physical embodiment did. But, my mom is not her physical self, she’s so much more than that. She was a lively, humorous, smart, loving, emotional, strong spirit with deep-rooted values and beliefs. I would never describe my mom as just the physical manifestation (even though she was a total hottie), because that is not who she was…that’s just what she looked like. Understanding this has always provided me comfort and I don’t find myself easily shaken by her physical death because I know I will see her again. I feel her with me on some days and am reminded yet again that she is always watching over me. However, that being said, there are still days like today, my birthday, and Christmas where I miss the hell out of her. I want her physically with me. I long to feel her stroke my hair, rub my back, and look at me like only she can, eyes filled with admiration and love.
Growing up, I had horrible self-esteem. I went through an incredibly awkward stage (as we all do) and was chubby with frizzy hair and braces that formed a zig-zagged pattern in my mouth because my teeth were that crooked. I genuinely hated looking in the mirror and while getting ready for school, I would stare in the mirror and sob at my reflection. Every night (and I mean every night), I would pray to God that I would wake up looking different. I prayed that he would make me pretty and I became obsessed with the idea of beauty. I also struggled with the fact that I was mixed (Black, White and Hawaiian). I felt like I wasn’t able to identify with anyone and instead of embracing my unique beauty, I shamed it.
One weekend when I was about 13 years old, I was lying on my mother’s bed, watching her get ready (something I always did) and she came over and lied down next to me and just stared at me. There was so much admiration and love in her eyes and I was confused by it all. She then whispered, “You are so beautiful Jasmine”. Even more confused, I thought, “How could she say that?” ,”How does she do that?” “How can she say something like that and mean it? What does she see that I don’t?” Then in typical teen fashion, I got upset, saying to myself, “Of course it’s easy for her to say that, she’s beautiful. She doesn’t get it.” As if reading my thoughts, she said again, “You really are Jasmine, you are so beautiful.” I felt my guard slowly come down and I began to wonder if it was true. It wasn’t her saying it that helped me to accept myself, it was the look in her eyes. She meant it and if she meant it, then it had to be true. I later witnessed that same look in her eyes the day before she passed.
My mom always told me she loved me and she always celebrated my life and the things I did with it. She was so proud of me all the time; often embarrassing me by bragging about my accomplishments to her friends and co-workers. In her last months, I really felt I let her down. I was angry with the fact that she was dying and would reluctantly spend time with her. At 21 years old, you don’t necessarily have the best insight on how to handle your mother dying. And to be honest, if it happened at my age now, I am not too sure I wouldn’t act the same bitchy way. Loss has an interesting way of bringing out a side of you, you didn’t know existed. Only by learning by regret/mistake can I honestly say that I would act completely different now.
The brain tumor caused my mom to lose all of her motor skills. She needed to be fed, changed, bathed and everything else in between. It was hard for me to see my beautiful and young mother struggling; I didn’t recognize her as my mom. My house was full of family, distant relatives, nurses, hired assistants, and people of the church and community, all of which volunteered to help take care of her. I was grateful for this, but also annoyed by the constant unwanted opinions they felt they needed to share with me. Feeling like it would be best for me, they would often try and pressure me into feeding her, changing her, etc, but it made me uncomfortable and because they kept pushing me to do something I wasn’t ready for, it only made me withdraw from my mom more.
I retreated to my own personal space and found any excuse to not be at my mom’s house. As Christmas neared, I kept praying that as a “Christmas miracle”, she would magically be better again and we could all just put this behind us and move on; I was in utter denial. The exact opposite was happening. She had been asleep for 3 straight days, a sign of her body shutting down. I missed her so much and became terrified that she was going to pass without me saying goodbye. I was told that my mom was holding on for my brother and I and that we needed to give her the “ok” to go. I didn’t want to. I needed her to be awake one last time. I needed to hear her voice one last time. I hadn’t heard her speak in a month and I was forgetting the sound of her voice. Later one night, she awoke. However, she was gone in the eyes…she stared into the abyss and I stared at her back, wondering what world she was witnessing. Does she see me? Why doesn’t she see me? I kept trying to follow her eyes, but she was looking right through me…it scared me. I left the room accepting the fact that my mom was gone, I began contemplating how I was going to muster up the courage to tell her she can let go. Would she even hear me? Would she even know it’s me? The doctor had informed me that the hearing is the last to go, so I felt I needed to decide quickly because it was evident what was happening to my mother.
Later that night, I crept into my mom’s room, hoping no one would come in after me and I sat and watched her. Like word vomit, I apologized for everything in my life that I had ever done to her, especially my horrible performance as a daughter lately. I told her I was sorry and I was scared of losing her. I didn’t want her to go. I began confessing my fears of her leaving and all the things she will miss (my wedding, pregnancy, career, etc). In that moment, I released all my emotions and cried the hardest I have in my entire life. Leaning slightly on her, desperately wanting her to stroke my hair, I cried onto her stomach – feeling like I just wanted to crawl back into her womb. How am I supposed to go on without my best friend and first love?
Her head was turned away from me the whole time and when I lifted my head off her stomach to wipe the snot and tears off my face, she slowly turned towards me and we locked eyes. In that moment she looked at me with admiration and love, much like the time when I was 13 years old, lying on her bed. With her eyes, she stroked my hair, rubbed my back, and told me how proud she was of me. I had never witnessed someone saying “I love you” with their eyes, until that day. In that moment, my mom had returned to me and I had her with me one last time. I didn’t want that moment to end and as I saw her slowly slip back into whatever alternate space she was in before, I knew I had received what I needed to let her go. The next night, my brother and I told her we would be OK without her and she didn’t need to hold on for us. We held her, loved on her, and cried on her. That night she passed.
They say you never know what you have until it’s gone and unfortunately that is so true (although, I am making daily choices to cherish those around me, so this doesn’t have to be true anymore). My mom and I had an amazing relationship, but I did not understand her love for me until she passed. I think about the ways I treated her and how easily annoyed I would get with her, but we as children know we can do that because our mothers will love us regardless. They love us unconditionally. To them, we are the most beautiful, smartest, most talented, funniest, and awesome human being created. I mean come on, they created us so we have to be, right? 😉 They will gladly set aside their own dreams, goals, and life to just make us happy. No one can love you like a mother. There is a connection between children and their mothers that not even a father can understand. We are one with them for 9 months and that oneness stays with us for a lifetime and beyond. Whether they pass away or not, they will always be our mother and they will always protect us from harm, it’s their duty that they so proudly take on.
My mom may have passed, but she didn’t do so without teaching me an important lesson, one that has made me who I am today. In her last months, she forgave, she loved, she laughed, and was devoted to living in the NOW; she was the happiest I had ever seen her. She confirmed that be telling me that despite having cancer, she was the happiest she’s ever been. She finally understood life and let go of anything else that didn’t contribute positivity. I am still floored by how beautifully and gracefully she handled it all and I live my life by the same values she had in her last year. I relinquish any selfishness, negativity, resentment and pain, and I choose happiness.
Happy Mother’s day to all of the mother’s out there!! And Happy Mother’s day to my favorite woman- my mammas.