“I have been through a lot and have suffered a great deal. But I have had lots of happy moments, as well. Every moment one lives is different from the other. The good, the bad, hardship, the joy, the tragedy, love, and happiness are all interwoven into one single, indescribable whole that is called life. You cannot separate the good from the bad. And perhaps there is no need to do so, either.”
~ Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
I am probably one of the few people on this green Earth that is overjoyed that summer is over. Figuratively speaking, I have never been more ready to turn over a new leaf. Summer 2013 will go down as THE worst summer of my life, particularly because the season began with the sudden loss of my mother. For those of you who don’t know, she suffered a massive stroke. She was only 68.
I still can’t believe it has two months. It seems like yesterday we were eating together at the family table, and she wasn’t complaining of any pain or disturbances. Since June, I have dug myself into this grief buffet of shock, guilt, sadness, anger, frustration, fear, worry, and more. I have cried, laughed, cried, smiled, cried, cracked jokes, cried … well you get the picture. Yet, this rollercoaster of emotions I’m riding on is completely normal, so I’ve been told countless times by my family, friends, and acquaintances. How do I get rid of this pain?
I lost more than just my mother. I lost my very best friend. I lost my confidante. I lost my sister. I lost a soulmate. We would finish each other’s sentences. We would know what pushed each other’s buttons. We would cry from each other’s insults. We would laugh at each other’s jokes. We would give each other strength and love through the acts of cuddling and deep conversations. One of the things my mother taught me was that love was precious, and our love was just that and still is.
My mother has said many times that I’m one of the most courageous person she ever knew and always wondered where I got it from. “You didn’t get it from me,” she said in her Sicilian dialect. Let’s examine the act of courage, shall we? Courage is one of the noblest elements of the human soul. Courage can mean taking a stand that sets you apart from your family and friends. Courage is doing what you say you will no matter how great the cost. Courage can be living up to your vows or principle even those around you are not. Courage is the ability to withstand the most painful moments without crumbling.
I am no stranger to obstacles. I have faced them for the past 30 years. I shit my pants every time I overcome one. OK, that’s gross and I actually don’t do that. But I do surprise myself every time I achieve something. As a person born with achondroplasia, overcoming an obstacle is an act of growing within myself. But now, moving on with my life and accepting my mother’s death are the biggest obstacles I’m facing right now. I know it will take time for me to do the latter. But moving on is something that I’m forced to do, that I need to do, but part of me doesn’t want to do.
Since my mother’s passing, there have been certain things that I’ve set out to do. I’m learning a lot about myself along the way. I’m more resilient. I’m more expressive. I’m more productive. I used to watch my mom do things around the house. I used to want to copy everything she did because I thought her way was the right way. I am beginning to realize that it’s not the case at all. Everybody’s different. I’m learning to adapt to certain things around the house. It’s not easy, but I’m trying my best.
I went to a former professor/good friend’s memorial service this past weekend. It was a wonderful service filled with poignant and loving speeches by friends, family, and former students. One former student said something that immediately caught my attention. He said that this beloved professor/good friend has not left us. His wisdom, advice, and guidance would always remain with this former student until his final day on Earth.
I started thinking about Mom and the life lessons she taught me and the things I’ve done so far. Because my mom was such an active person, I know she wouldn’t want me to sit and sulk. Even though, I don’t hear her voice or feel her touch every day, little by little I’m beginning to realize that she is with me. From now on, the best thing I can do is to be the most courageous person I can be and know that somewhere in Heaven, there is a Sicilian angel smiling down and guiding me every step of the way.