I was catching up with an amazing mother with children much older than mine. A roll model kind of mom....she is kind, funny, and thoughtful. She was sharing a story about some adjustments her child was going through in her first year of college. Typical adjustment things. Getting used to the living habits of a new roommate. Finding her way through campus. Missing her friends, family, and boyfriend. Stories of how her daughter would call her to confide her fears. Have her talk through late night car rides in uber alone so she didn't feel by herself in an unfamiliar place.
The tingle of jealousy no longer fills my body. More an observation takes place. Reflective in many ways of the things I missed out on by my mother losing her battle with cancer when I was 22. I smile as I listen to her story. Thinking how blessed her daughter is to have her.
I think about how her daughter will have a greater confidence to go out in this world knowing that if she ever fails at anything she has a mother to lean on. A cheerleader in the shadows forever on her team.
I think about the years after my mom's death. The anxiety and fear I felt moving to downtown Chicago. Trying out different jobs trying to figure out what I liked to do. The late nights, the cab rides home by myself from being out on the town. Walking the dim lite streets alone. How I was so aware of my surroundings. In the darkness keeping my eyes up making sure I was safe for myself by myself. I learned to be my number one fan. My number one supporter of me. I felt the stress of it but still trudging forward knowing that behind me was the cement.
I think how different it would have been to be able to call my mom about problems with work, my friends, a guy I was dating. But those things never happened. Even when she was alive she was too sick for me to put any of my issues on her plate. I only shared sunshine and rainbows with her. No matter how dark my days were.
As the years went on after I lost my mom to cancer I discovered new friendships and old friendships that became deeper as these relationships helped fill the void I felt. When sickness fell into my life and my body was weak it was from deep within me that still kept my head high. It was the phone calls to my closest friends that went to Michigan State with me and saw me endure my mother's battle and death. Friends that moved from MSU to Washington DC and Texas that became my family. Friends that talked to me through everyday I was in the hospital with cdiff and later with the misdiagnosed abscess. Every single day calling me, texting me, checking on me. Today I am blessed to add profound relationships here in Michigan. To have family that is not related but knows your soul, your heart, and your intentions. I am now lucky to have a long list of people that I can turn to and they can turn to me knowing I can always offer an empathetic ear.
I promise the list was not built overnight. It took years of digging. To find people I connected with on a sincere honest level took a lot of time. Friends that I could be real with and still accept me for me. Friends that would support me in good times and bad. Friends that knew how broken I had been and how far I have come. Friends that see the success of my husband and the life he provides me and our children and doesn't resent me because of it. You would be surprised how many people do.
My husbands family which now of course is mine. To not feel alone is one of the best intangible things I could have. When my intestines shut down when I was 7 weeks pregnant. When I was in intense pain from what we now know was the abscess leaking inside me. Supporting me as I cried in the hospital room when my body temp hit 104, pain surging through my side, and the room filled with doctors. My husband frantically trying to fly home from a conference in Las Vegas. My husband's parents were there. Sitting in the hospital with me day in and day out. When nobody knew what was wrong with me. They were at my side. These are the things that matter. When sh*t hits the fan and life gets real. Who is by your side. Who is not. My two best friends in DC and Texas were calling/ texting. I will never forget.
Maybe I wouldn't appreciate the things that have come into my life the same way if I had not experienced such a swing of the pendulum into the darkness for so long. I can not control what happened to my mom. If I could I would take her back in a heart beat. But since I can not I have learned how to move on. How to cope better. How to embrace the life I have. How to treasure the precious people in my life.
I am lucky today to say the least..... I know what I lost and I truly understand what I now have.