I miss my mom. It’s now been almost 11 years since she passed away and in some ways it feels like it was just yesterday.
I was ten-weeks pregnant with Son No. 1 when I got the phone call that she died. Before that day, whenever I watched a movie where people were given bad news and then collapsed, I would roll my eyes.
It was my sister who told me. She had left a message 20 minutes earlier but I had been eating dinner and hadn’t answered the phone. When I called her back, I knew the minute I heard her voice something was wrong but I had no idea how wrong it would be.
“Sharon, Mom died.” Three words that changed our lives forever. My legs buckled and I collapsed. My body simply could not support the weight of the words I just heard.
Where my mom lived there are approximately 10,000 autopsies done each year. Out of those there are two or three where a definitive answer to the cause of death is never found. My mom fell into that category. But what we think happened is she had a massive heart attack.
To this day I feel sick to my stomach thinking of her all alone. Was she trying to get to the phone? Was she in pain? Was she afraid? Did she know she was dying?
It haunts me.
In those eleven years, she’s missed so much. The births of Son No. 1 and Son No. 2, first steps, first words, first foods, first days of school. There have been birthdays and holidays, vacations and day trips. Concert recitals, hockey games and speed skating meets. Bike rides in the park, walks along the lake, quiet moments in the backyard.
It’s the day-to-day I miss her most. When I flounder as a mother not knowing what to do I’ll go to pick up the phone to ask her “What did you do? Please help me.” But there is no one to call. I’m ashamed to admit there are times I’m angry with her for leaving us so soon. I watch my nephew growing into a man and know how proud she’d be of him, of all her grandkids. I’m sad she’s not here to be proud.
I still sometimes see her in a crowd, the top of her head in a mall or a quick glimpse out of the corner of my eye. It hits me like a sucker punch to the stomach.
She’s not here with us anymore.
And while she has missed so many things, it is us—her family and friends—who have missed so much more. Her laugh, her wry sense of humour, her silliness, her stories, her advice, her hugs...her love.
She has missed moments; we have missed her.
I remember my mom was a runner before it was in vogue to be a runner. She would go out with another mom from across the street and run; she ran a 10k race when she was close to the age I’m at now. At some point she stopped. I’m not sure when, I was a child and didn’t keep track of things like my mom running just like my kids don’t see it as anything special that I run races or speed skate. But she did stop. Now I’m at that age and find myself wondering why. Did it get put on the backburner because of all the other commitments in her life? Was it a conscious decision or did it just sort of drift out because other things came in.
I get it. So many times I’ve started an exercise routine only to have it peter off within a few months. The promise to eat well every day is tossed aside when a craving hits or time is short. So often we worry about everyone else’s health. Our kids, our partner, our parents…we get lost in the shuffle. Doctor’s appointments aren’t made or are cancelled last minute. Eight hours of sleep considered a luxury, not the necessity that it is. Exercise is put to the wayside. Food is eaten mindlessly. Those mysterious pains are dismissed.
What I have learned in a heart breaking lesson with my mother is you don’t want to miss your children’s moments, nor do you want them missing you.
Please take the time to take care of yourself.
Your loved ones will appreciate it.