On May 14, 2015, my life changed in a new and unexpected way.
My mom died.
If you’ve read my 6 part story, you know that I had an unpleasant childhood, but not every day was bad. My mom did what she could to make life better for us in small ways, like having lunch together at the local cafe or family restaurant in the small rural areas where we lived. Occasionally, she would take me somewhere cool like a museum so that I could learn interesting things.
I remember my mom in many ways, both heart warming and devastatingly sad. Over the years and the bumpy road that is life, I learned a lot about her and from her. When I was 5 years old, her and my father got divorced when his alcoholism and gambling just became too much to bear. She led me through learning how to live without a father present every day, and helped me change my last name to hers when I didn’t feel like I belonged to a family anymore. I hated having a different last name than my mom, and it made me sad every day in school when I wrote my name down. I think that’s one of the most important things she ever did for me in helping me to define my identity.
Although she was then with a man for 6 years after that who was abusive to me as a child, she had no idea. Although I have no idea how she couldn’t know, I never once spoke up because I was afraid, and so I will never fault her for this. For many years after this, she attended sessions with a counselor for a form of PTSD from the trauma she experienced near the end of the relationship, and also with the knowledge that I had been hurt without her knowing. In some ways, she suffered much longer than I did.
She also made the decision to move us from Alberta to BC. At the time, I was 12 years old and I thought it was the worst decision that could ever be made. Turns out, children know nothing, and it was definitely the best. Despite a 3rd failed relationship for her, it meant a better life in the long term for both of us. We ended up finding a church community that loved and supported us in many ways, and to whom I will always be grateful. On top of that, I ended up finding what would become the most important place in my life. Summer Camp.
At camp, not only have I found a full time job that I love and am extremely passionate about, but I have also met my best friends and my wife there. If we hadn’t ever come to BC, I never would have met my wife, which seems insane to me. The thing I thought was the stupidest decision at 12 years old is literally the best thing to have ever happened to my life. That decision was my mom’s and had nothing to do with me, and so I am grateful to her for that.
My mom had a lot of health problems for many years, and nobody seemed to be able to diagnose them properly. I remember that her diagnoses were always changing, as were her medications. Sometimes she was better, and sometimes she had no energy or drive at all. In 2015, this was exactly what happened, but in a much worse way.
She went into liver failure slowly and erratically over the course of 6 weeks, but it felt like so much longer. The ambulance was called to our home many times, by myself, my landlords, and later the home care nurses. I was massively stressed, trying desperately to do anything I could to help her. My whole life was filled with scheduling appointments, managing medications, staying in the hospital for hours and hours on end, and working at the same time because there’s no way I could afford to take time off.
It seems so short, and yet when I was living it, it seemed like years. I had no idea what would happen and when. I didn’t realize that one day she would slip into a coma and die just 4 days later.
I miss her from time to time, as I know I will for the rest of my life, but I know that she’s no longer suffering and that’s what is most important to me. She died just a couple days after Mother’s day, and so while I will always have that sad reminder, I can’t help but be happy that there is no longer pain, suffering and stress for either of us. I can remember the good times, and the happy random memories that we shared.
I know that she would be incredibly proud of me now, being in much better shape than I ever was before, being married, having done the things I have done and seeing the person that I am today. I don’t know what life would have been like if she hadn’t died 3 years ago, but I honestly think that everything happens for a reason, and I believe that it was just her time. I think she would agree with me on that if she could.
On this Mother’s day, love all mothers. Be it your own, your spouse’s, or just the people you work with. You never know how life is going to turn out. I use Mother’s day to remind me of all the good memories we had together, and to make memories with the new mothers in my life who weren’t part of my childhood, but are important to me now. I don’t like thinking about how sad and painful it is to not have my mom beside me on this day, so I just choose to be happy and joyful with the ones that are.
Happy Mother’s day, Mom. I love you.