“I miss thee, my Mother! Thy image is still the deepest impressed on my heart.” ~ Eliza Cook

Eleven years ago today, I lost my mother. It still hurts like hell, but it’s no longer the sharp pain of a fresh knife wound. Over the years, the pain has turned into more of a dull ache. I’ve come to live with the strange feeling of being motherless. It’s a feeling of being unmoored at sea, untethered to the earth. Anyone that’s lost someone they love knows the feeling. It’s something that you can’t change and have no choice but to get used to in order to carry on. Time helps but doesn’t heal. I don’t believe a loss this big can be healed. Only morphed into something different.

I grieve for myself. For the fact that my mother isn’t here and isn’t part of my life. For all of the things that I will do and experience that I can’t share with her. But I also grieve for her. For the children, grandchildren, and now great grandchildren that she won’t get to see enter all of the different stages of their lives. For that big beautiful hole in the earth known as the Grand Canyon that she never got a chance to see and always wanted to visit. For the retirement that she never got to enjoy after years of working in such a dedicated fashion. I heard someone once say that this is empathetic grief. Grief that’s bigger than ourselves and our own loss. Grief that encompasses the missed opportunities of the person that passed away. And it’s this type of grief that often comes to me in the middle of the night when I wake up in the darkness and silence and think of my mother.

If our parents pass away before us, then being without them is part of our journey. As my mother said when she was battling pancreatic cancer and knew her time was limited, “This is how it should be.”

And so I hold onto the love, cherish the memories, and try to keep her with me even though she’s not physically here. I hear her in the lyrics and notes of beautiful music, when I look at an innocent animal or the gummy smile of a baby, when I see the colors of the sunset, and when I look into the eyes of anyone I love. She left her imprint on my heart. And it will be with me forever.