7/26/2013. The day my mother moved on to heaven to fly free.
They say it’s “crazy how fast time flies” and that’s the truth. Two years since I got that call at 8:08 am. It feels like forever ago and just yesterday at the same time. I look back and wonder how my sister and I got through the first few months to a year…how we planned a funeral by ourselves, packed her stuff up alone, acquired an estate and took care of so much that no one teaches you how to do. My body back then was constantly in auto pilot and I flowed on and somehow got through. Yet, there was so much anger in me, fits of rage and why me’s, so many tears and days filled with the want to stop the tears and no tools to know how to. There was a cloud of loneliness and heartache that seeped into every word I spoke and smile I gave. Friends, coworkers, my fiancee and his family were my lifeline. They say it takes a village to raise children – well it more than takes a village to raise someone up in grief. Their unwavering support was testimony to the miracle of how much love can help to heal a broken heart.
We threw a huge party as the one year mark hit – with so many people attending who love me and in turn loved her, even though they had never met her. Oh, it was beautiful. It was bittersweet. It was loving and celebratory and just what I needed then. A year just wasn’t enough time to let go. The loss was still so present, it hurt to breathe at times. Whoever said grief has a timeline never lost their mother to the monster that is ALS. Last year, I sat wondering how I could keep her legacy holding on, how to never forget her. This was the reason I found myself volunteering to be on the Oprah Network spilling my heart’s grief out to the world on public television to the amazing Cheryl Strayed – seeking advice for maybe myself, but more so retrospectively, I needed the world to know of Pat Snyder. I wrote many a social media status airing out my feelings and cried through these posts as I exposed my inner most thoughts to whomever would listen and threw that party to keep her memory alive. I needed the universe to remember her – I needed her to not have died in vain. Life that first year was no way to live, but the only way to survive.
This morning, I woke up and while I had been dreading having to deal with the feelings I might have on this day, there were no tears in my eyes only a sense of peace. How does time do that?! That little cliche statement that it will “heal all”? It’s disparaging to hear when something tragic first happens to you. You defiantly want to scream back – “No. No it will not cure anything! Time has nothing on what I lost and can never bring my mother back. Don’t tell me I will heal. Don’t tell me I will move past this!”…but, you do. From one year to the next, it heals and it changes you and mends the cracks of what you thought would always be broken. Time allows for life to change as you change. Life may never be the same but this new normal I have entered into, I’ve accepted as my new life. I feel alive. I feel proud. I feel thankful to have had the mother I had. The constant search for her last year has led me to realize she never left me. I laugh with her when the words that come out of my mouth resemble hers. I share memories over text with my sister when they pop up out of the blue. I swell with pride when I think of the sacrifices she made as a single mother and I vow to make the same for my children with Brian one day. I carry her selfless heart in me and try everyday to extend a kind thought or act to someone as she did all the days of her social work inspired life. I talk to her when I’m frustrated and ask her for guidance when I feel lost.
I see her in the Godsend she sent me in the form of Teddy and I know she is smiling that I have found the love of my life and will marry him next year. I like to think Teddy and Brian are my mothers’ way of protecting me. I’ve found an inner strength I never knew I had and a kind of self-love that comes only after you realize YOU are all you may have one day. I’ve lost friends and gained new ones and I’ve accepted that not everyone knows how to handle your heartaches – but the friends that try, they are friends for life. I’ve allowed myself to admit I need help, accepted help from others and from a professional helping hand, and I’ve let go of the need to force myself to stand on my own. I’ve found forgiveness in my heart and solace in my weakness.
My grief today is softened with the beauty of what I have learned and this new person I am becoming. I look in the mirror today and there’s an innocence in my eyes that was stolen two years ago and has now returned through the eyes of new realizations. I never ever thought I would smile thinking of my mother’s death, but I am today. While I am not smiling because she died, I am whole heartedly smiling that her life was lived in love and exactly how she wanted it to be. I’m smiling because not one moment of her life did she give into anything that happened to her and she went away on her own terms, with her own voice and her own story to share.
My grief these days is not the grief of missed opportunity or the grief of a searing pain. It’s an enveloping shower of love that I’m covered in everyday, that like her, will go with me, for as long as I will ever need. She was the epitome of all that I wanted to be and the reason I am me. Her soul is here, her words are my words, her light and love of life is my fire to make a difference in the world. Tonight, I will honor her memory by having dinner with my fiancee and soon to be mother in law. I will thank her for all that I have learned and look forward to more lessons to come, knowing that only a mother has the power to still teach you after she’s gone.
I love you – I miss you – I admire you. Shine on, Mom.