Monday, 10 December 2012

Things my mama taught me...

I'm going to lay it out for you all right now.  This post that you're about to read is not going to be like what you'd usually find here.  I'm honestly not sure exactly what shape it's going to take, but I can tell you that it's going to be heavier than most of the things I post on here.

And here's why.

8 years ago today, I rolled my ginormously large, 9-month pregnant body from bed and got myself ready for work.  I went through the motions, even though I probably should have been somewhere else.  8 years ago today, I sat in my cubicle at work and starred at my phone as it rang with the phone number at my parent's house showing on the call display screen.  I listened to my Dad's voice on the other end and I knew in my heart, that my unborn baby was never going to meet his Grandmother.

8 years ago today, my husband rushed to my office and picked me up, because a) I couldn't have been trusted behind the wheel even if I did fit and b) my license had been suspended for not paying a speeding ticket.  Ooops!  8 years ago today, my sister and I drove in silence to the hospital where my mom had been admitted two days before, where we'd been waiting to get her admitted to long term care because we knew her battle with cancer was in it's final stages, although none of us had come to terms with it.

8 years ago today, I stood in a hospital room and watched, helplessly, as my mom took her last breath and slipped away from us.

In that one, horrible, life-altering moment I wasn't thinking about all the amazing things my Mom had taught me over the years.  No, I definitely wasn't.  I was thinking about how angry I was that my mom wasn't going to ever get to meet her grandchild.  How she wouldn't get to hold him the day he was born or watch him smear ice cream all over his face on his first birthday, take his first steps or hear him speak his first words.  I was thinking about what I'd just lost, in that one, horrible, life-altering moment.

I think it's only fair at this point that I tell you, my mom and I didn't have the best relationship when I was growing up.  I mean, I didn't want to inflict pain on her (well, not on most days anyway), but we were never besties or BFFs or anything.  She was my mom.  She drove me NUTS!  She was always signing me up for crap, trying to get me to sing at things I didn't want to do.  Trying to involve us in things within the community that in my eyes were lame and when I finally got to a stage in High School when I actually had friends to hang out with on the weekend, she would very rarely let me go out let alone drive myself anywhere.

It always felt to me like she was controlling.  Like it was her way, or no way at all.  Like she was there to tell me what to do, but not listen.

It's a funny thing, though, this thing called parenthood.  It gives you perspective.  It makes you look back at some of the things your parents did with you, and look at it in a new light.  Some things, you realize weren't nearly as awful and as meddlesome as you maybe thought they were, before becoming a parent.

So, on this, the 8th anniversary of losing my mom, I have come to realize that although she's no longer here with me in spirit, she taught me so much more than I ever knew.

She taught me that if there is anyone in this world to advocate for, it's your kids.  She taught me that a parent doesn't have to be their kids' best friend, but they do have to be their number one cheerleader.  She taught me that sometimes in life, you'll find great disappointment,  It's what you do with that disappointment though that will define who you ultimately are as a person.  You can either chose to sit and be angry about the hand life deals you, or you can wake up in the morning and be happy that you've gotten to see a new day.
She taught me that just because you're old enough to do something, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're emotionally ready to do it.
She taught me that even when you feel like you don't have even one more ounce to give, that there's always just a little more in there.
She taught me that Christmas is a time for miracles and that even if all you can offer is a song, you should sing it as loud and as often as you can.
She taught me that even though you may be fighting a losing battle, there is always a reason to fight back.  You don't give up.  EVEN when the fat lady is singing.
She taught me that there is nothing more important in this life than to love your kids and your family with the fiercest of all loves.  That even when you don't like someone, you STILL love them.
She taught me that if someone has hurt you, it's OK to be mad at them and to distance yourself while you heal, but that eventually, forgiveness is how you move forward.
She taught me that sometimes in life we have to make choices that we won't like.  Sometimes those choices will be easy and sometimes, they'll be heartbreaking.  When we're ready though, if we look and listen hard enough, the answers always seem to have a funny way of presenting themselves in one way or another.

Not a day goes by that I don't miss my mom.  That I don't wish she had gotten the chance to know her two amazing grandsons.  I know she would have loved them both to bits.  She would have been amazed by the big boy's amazing artistic skills and his passion for reading and learning.  She would have been won over in a second by the little man's sparkling eyes, warm hugs and infectious giggle.  Most of all though, I like to think that she would have been so proud that she raised a strong, confident and loving woman who will hopefully pass on some of the same lessons to her own sons.

I only wish my mom had lived long enough for me to truly appreciate the sacrifices she made for me, for my brothers and my sister.  I have to believe, that she watches over me, the Husband and our boys every day and knows that she taught me well.

Every year, I've searched for a way that I could recognize her on this day.  I mean, other than just thinking about her, missing her and getting together with whichever family members want to gather to remember.  But I'm talking about finding a way to honour her.

Last month, on a whim, I asked the principal of the boys' school if they had families within our school community whom they would be helping out at Christmas.  He told me they did indeed and would welcome any kind of support that we could offer.  So, today, in loving memory of my most amazing mother, I'm going shopping.  I'm shopping for a 13-year old girl, a 9-year old and a 5-year old boys.  I am going to make sure, just as my mom did every year, regardless of our financial situation, that those kids wake up on Christmas morning, and feel the magic of Christmas.

I'm pretty sure she'd be proud.


  1. Wow Emilie your mom sounds like she was an amazing woman! I am sure she smiles down on you and your children and is SO proud of you!! This has me bawling at my desk! Such a good wake up call to be thankful everyday for the blessings we have and the people we have in our lives. Thank you for posting!

  2. Beautiful words Emilie. Hugs to you and your family today.

  3. Wow, your story sounds SO similar and your feelings are identical to mine! I'm so sorry for your loss!

    I lost my mom 9 years ago to cancer and like you, I miss her EVERY.FREAKING.DAY.

    In a way it is good to know other people can relate even though I would never wish the loss of a mother on anyone. It is so hard and I am still waiting for it to get easier like they say it does. I don't think it ever will. I just hang on to every memory I have of her, good and bad because in the end she was my mom and she loved me unconditionally.

    SHE WOULD BE PROUD OF YOU! That is such an amazing way to honor her.

    xoxo to you!

  4. I have tears and goosebumps as I read your story. I am lucky to still have my mom, but we lost my father in law to cancer 3 years ago. He was a young 58 years old, my husband's best friend and business partner, and our next door neighbor. Bless you and your family today and always. I have seen the pain of cancer.

  5. Hugs to you!!!!! I agree that she would be proud of you.

  6. It sounds like your mother was beautiful. She did a wonderful job teaching you to be the same. Big hugs to you my friend!


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