My first motivation to actually start living life again came about fourteen months after losing my parents 31 days apart in the summer of 2018–my mom died first from Multiple Myeloma cancer in May (at 64) and my dad followed in June when he suffered a stroke following life saving open heart surgery (at 65). As the only child with an extremely close relationship to them both I ended up suffering with severe depression, anxiety, and was diagnosed with PTSD following their back to back deaths. I became a shell of a mom and wife and laid in a daze on our couch for months on end until one day I finally decided to live life again. Here’s what took from the darkest of times to finally seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
As I laid paralyzed on the couch another day my daughter was practically in tears begging me to “get up”, “open [my] eyes”, “sit up”, “play with me”, “can you see me mommy”. Whoa, that was the first time I’ve actually ever shared ‘out loud’ ever because I am so ashamed. It hit me like a ton of bricks, I was ruining her little three year old life and I was the person she spent the most time with as a stay at home mom. My mind starting racing… in a somewhat joking manner and the thought that the “ghost of Rhoda” (my mom) was going to come kick my ass for not giving Emmy the life she deserved because I was grieving the loss of them (she expressed this concern for how I would handle her death daily during her last month of life and get this, she had no clue my dad would follow so shortly after– I thank God for this all the time). She would be FURIOUS with me if she was looking down at that moment which I always imagine she is. She was always blunt with me, and oh how I miss that every single day, to the point she more than once, straight up admitted she loved Emmy more than she had loved me as a child. And the momma in me wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. So if at all possible that ghosts are real, Emmy would be the thing she felt was worthy of a “ghost of Rhoda” haunting visit for sure and she wasn’t coming happy with me! To quote her the day Emmy was born “I walked in your hospital room and laid eyes on Emmy for the first time and felt an overwhelming sense of love, one that took years for me to feel for you”. I can still hear her saying that and I smile oh so big.
Humor aside, I realized the greatest thing I could do to honor my parents was to live a life they would be proud of and be the best mother I could be to Emmy against all odds. Not that I would be magical unicorn mom, but I would fake happiness and enjoyment of life again for her the best freaking way I could and would give it MY best because she deserved it. I want that precious little girl to have a better childhood than I even had and that is a whole lot of pressure on me because my life was pretty spectacular and full of the happy memories of time spent as our little family of three. I was truly blessed. I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade the 33 years I got with my parents for decades more with any others.
Kids are so dang intuitive, even so young, and I had to face the harsh reality of the effect my mood had on her life and it’s been so hard to accept because it’s been filled so much negativity, sadness, worry, and anger during her short four years of life (my mom was diagnosed when she was only nine months old, right when I was finally getting out of struggling with postpartum depression).
I want my daughter to remember how during the most difficult battle of my life I still tried to be the best I could for her. I don’t want her to remember me feeling defeated laying lifeless on a couch every day. I want her to remember how hard I fought every single day to be even the tiniest bit better than the day before. That’s respectable in my opinion. I want her to remember my perseverance, not defeat. Maybe one day she’ll understand the amount of love it took and even be proud of me.
I didn’t share my first post back in the summer so be sure to check it out here Grieving Multiple Losses
Also, in the next week ill share a simple but major defining moment in my grief journey I like to call my AHA! Moment