Perspectives on Motherhood: On Losing a Mother

DenaJuly 19, 2022

Life has always had a way of bringing the most extraordinary people into my life. It has been on my heart for so long to open up this space to these people in order to share the stories that have touched my heart so deeply and to showcase the individuals who have lived them.

I am humbled and grateful to be able to share many of these stories here in the coming months. The guest posts that I feature will range from informational to deeply personal stories. One of the series that I am most excited about is the one that will begin today, a series titled, Perspectives on Motherhood.

Today’s story is a story of losing one’s own mother and then going on to become a mother yourself. It is brought to you by a woman who became my friend during college. She will forever be one of the most cheerful and positive people that I have ever had the fortune to know, with a laugh and a smile so bright that she truly illuminates darkness with her presence.

I will never get over the fact that I came to know this brightness so shortly after she suffered the most shocking and tragic loss. This is a testament to the strength and light inside of her. Today’s story comes from my friend, Nicole Navarrete. I hope that her story will touch and inspire you as much as it has me.

From the time I was born, I led a pretty sheltered life. I had the common household of a mom, dad, sister, and brother. We lived in a house in a nice neighborhood. We weren’t rich but we definitely weren’t poor. My parents gave us what we wanted. We went on vacations. My mom was my best friend. I loved my mom more than anyone, we had the perfect relationship. So that day back in 2002 was the worst day of my life.

That day is so vivid in my mind, I was away at college and it was the only weekend in a while that I didn’t go home to see my family. I called my mom earlier in the day to talk and to tell her that I didn’t feel well. I kept on wishing that I was home for her to take care of me. She told me what to take to feel better and said that we would talk later.

The next thing I remember is a knock on my dorm room door. I looked out the peephole and saw my uncle and my sister’s boyfriend standing there. I remember thinking to myself, what on earth are they doing here? I opened the door to somber faces. They said, “Pack a bag Nicole, we have to get you home.” They wouldn’t tell me what happened until we were in the car. And when they told me, I didn’t cry. I don’t know why I didn’t cry. My mom was gone, the person I treasured the most in the whole world was dead. But I didn’t cry.

I got home to my house and greeted my family, still no tears. What was wrong with me? I was in denial. I went to sleep that night and dreamt that my mom was still there. I woke up and ran around the house looking for her, but clearly she wasn’t there. I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. I couldn’t picture my life without my mom in it. I was only 18-years-old. I still had the rest of my life in front of me. What would I do without that constant in my life?

The wake and funeral passed by in a blur, and let me tell you, still no tears. I watched as they took my mom’s casket out of the church, and that is when the waterworks started. I knew that she was in that box and she wouldn’t be coming back. The rest of the week was worse. I was dreading going back to college. I did not know how my life was going to go on, let alone how I would sit in class or write papers. My dad convinced me that going back was the right thing to do, so I obliged.

That semester was the worst and best of my life. I didn’t want to have a good time without her. If she was dead I shouldn’t be out having fun. My friends at school convinced me that I needed to get out and do things that made me happy. I joined my sorority that semester and even though my GPA plummeted, I was trying to find that happiness again.

Now at 39, 20 years later, I still feel there is a void in my life. My mom missed all the important things in my life, my college graduation, my first teaching job, my engagement (that came with a beautiful stepdaughter), my wedding, and the birth of her two beautiful grandkids. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, and the relationship that we had. I want to pick up the phone and call her, tell her how my day went, ask her advice on something, or just have an easy chat to tell her how much I love her. I will never get her back. I will never be able to talk to or see my mom again, and no matter how strong I am, there is still that 18-year-old girl that yearns for her mom.

It’s been 2 decades since my mom passed away. I have learned that life is short and that we need to live everyday like it is our last. I have learned that no matter if you are healthy or not, you are not guaranteed to live. I have learned how to be a stronger person. I have endured things in my life that I never thought I could get past, but after living through the worst tragedy of my life at 18, I have gotten through those things with grace and determination.

I have 3 beautiful kids and I learned all of my mothering skills from my mother. I am patient and loving. I try to be strict, yet to be their friend. My mother was my best friend, and I want them to trust me with their most precious secrets, like I did with her. I hope that I am doing the best job that I can. I hope that I am half the mom to my kids that my mom was to me. I want my kids to know all about her. I want them to be kind, patient, caring and selfless, just like she was. I want them to know that she would have loved them so much and nothing would have gotten in the way of her seeing them. They would have been her world, just like I was her world.

Losing your mother at any age is so devastating. I don’t know what is harder, having your parent be sick for a long time but getting to say goodbye, or having a parent just suddenly die, like my mom did. I had no goodbye, no kiss, no I love you.

If you have lost your mom, I am so sorry for your loss and I empathize with you. Just know that no matter where you are in your life, it is incredibly difficult to lose your mom, but it does get better. The memories will never fade, but you will start to put the pieces of your life back together.

If you still have your mom, treasure everyday with her. Don’t ignore her phone calls. Meet up with her at least once a wee if you can. Have dinner and drinks with her. If you have kids, let her see her grandkids as much as she wants. Don’t hold grudges. Don’t fight with her. Just know that she is your mother, and that the day she is gone, you will regret ignoring those phone calls and not spending as much time with her as you could have and not talking to her for weeks. Cherish every moment you have with her, trust me I know this too well.

Even though I have my own family now, I wish that my mom was still here to share my secrets with, to take my kids out, to talk about anything and everything and just here to be my MOM.

One more note from Dena… I hope that you enjoyed reading Nicole’s story and that you are touched by her honesty. Nicole wrote a beautiful children’s book titled Pearl’s Magical Adventure. The book was a collaboration of her entire family. The penguin, star of the book, is her son’s favorite animal. Her daughter did the illustrations. And her husband, Sérgio, helped to name the characters. The whole family worked together on the story.

Nicole always dreamed of writing a book and when her husband got sick with Leukemia in 2019, she told herself, you don’t have time to be holding off on your dreams, and the book was born. It is available for purchase right here. It is so precious. Please check it out and support Nicole’s work.

Comments (1)

  • Anonymous

    July 21, 2022 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you for your article. Words could not be more true than the advise to just love your mom, call her, hug her, visit her and show her love. You never know when The Lord will take them Home. TY

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