In March 2020, I lost my mother to an evil disease. It was 4 days before my first daughter turned 3 months old. It was amid a global pandemic and government-imposed quarantine. It was 6 months after a diagnosis of gallbladder cancer at 54 years young. It was a tragedy that turned my entire world upside down and inside out. It shook me to my core and I can still feel the ripples.
See, she wasn’t just my mom. She was my best friend. A year earlier we went on a girl’s trip to Europe. Because she was my best friend. On my wedding day, I didn’t get ready with my bridesmaids, I got my hair and make-up done with her. Because she was my best friend.
Rage. Depression. Sadness. Guilt. Torment. There are so many words tied to how I felt and 6 months later, the wounds are just as raw. Here’s a myth nobody tells you about; it doesn’t get easier with time, in fact it gets more difficult. As more time passes, the longer it’s been since I felt her warmth, her comfort, her understanding, her love. The more I miss her.
When it all happened, it was so surreal. For weeks, I would wait for her to walk into the room. But she didn’t. I couldn’t eat or take care of myself, but I had to, because I had this tiny little human relying on me. My daughter was my saving grace. I didn’t have the option to break down on the outside in alignment with how I felt on the inside. I found myself on a seesaw of devastation and joy, teetering between the two and simultaneously feeling both every time she reached a new milestone, thinking about how my mother should’ve been there. How excited she was to be a baba (grandmother).
I studied mental health sciences at University of Toronto years ago, and despite having the knowledge of how the brain works, trying to rewire the way your mind processes thoughts is no small feat. I pushed people away, friends who wanted to help, but I couldn’t help but feel like no one understood, which they didn’t. To be fair, we were all in isolation and I had a new baby that sucked all the energy out of me. And instead of taking a moment to myself to shower or eat or get dressed when she napped, I took that time to sob, to cry out all the pain, tears streaming, gasping for air. The misalignment within me ate away at me.
Pair postpartum depression with the deepest grief you could possibly feel and you would have found me there, clinging to the ghost of the most beautiful person I had ever known, while holding the most beautiful little baby in my arms. Trying to comfort her in the ways I knew I would never have comfort again. I struggle with understanding what it is to be a mother too late to have given my mother the appreciation she deserved.
I am still learning how to navigate the waters of such a deep and devastating loss. My mama is with us every step of the way. In the meantime, I am so grateful for my husband, my father, my brother – the pillars that held me up so I could be the best mommy for my daughter.
In memory of Vesna. She lived in grace & to know her was to love her. For Vera, the Universe knew I needed you even more than I did.