My mother passed away when I was 13 years old.
It wasn’t sudden. She knew that she would not live to see me graduate high school or get married. My mother had been sick for most of my life and a single parent to my little brother and me.
Now that I am a mother, and I am one year away from being the same age she was when she died, I find myself reflecting more and more about the short period of time she had to raise me and teach me and nurture me and love me. 13 years is a blink of an eye. How can I possibly teach my four daughters to be all the things they need to be? Strong. Independent. Courageous. As well as important life skills like cooking, sewing, banking, taxes, budgeting, saving, relationships. The list is never ending. These are things I think about constantly because I know that I am not invincible. I know that I could die in a car accident. I know that I could get cancer again and not be as lucky as the last time.
I know that life is a bitch sometimes.
My mom was worried about leaving me unprepared. I don’t blame her. It couldn’t have been easy knowing that you had a disease with an expiration date. I wish she could see that I did all right.
I still hear here voice telling me that I am worthy of a kind and gentle love. I remember her passion and warning about the rights of my body and that no man (or woman) could hit or hurt me. I remember the day she taught me how to make pork chops in mushroom soup, and I made a mistake that almost ruined the whole meal, and that she was patient and kind with me when she showed me how to fix it. I remember when she talked to me about depression and sadness and about asking for help because there would always be someone who cares and will listen, even if it’s a stranger. I remember taking written instructions to the bank machine on my bike to do her banking as the start to managing my own finances. I remember the encouragement she gave me when I joined a public speaking club in the 6th grade.
I remember how special she made me feel when she threw me a surprise 13th birthday party, just eight months before she died. I remember calling her from my first babysitting job at age 12 to get advice on what to do with a baby who wouldn’t stop crying. I remember watching her pain and suffering and that she still made time to counsel women at a local distress centre in our community.
I remember it all.
Yes, 13 years is a blink of an eye, but I got more than enough in those moments to propel me forward to the woman I am today. I’m here. I’m alive. I’m a wife, a mom, a friend, a survivor. So for all you moms out there who are wondering every single day about whether you’re teaching your sons and daughters the right things, enough things, just all the things... stop worrying. Whether you have 13 years, 30 years or a lifetime of years to raise your kids, they will take everything you say to them, do for them, do with them and show them and they will be just fine too.
And so I want to tell my mom and all you moms:
Dear Mom, you did a great job.