Accepting Reality: Coming to Grips with a Devastating Loss
By: Kim Anthony
Journaling has always been therapeutic for me. But I have written very little about the most devastating thing that has happened to me in my 49 years of life. I think it’s because I didn’t want to believe it was real. I didn’t want it to be true; the loss of the most important woman in my life.
The one, who has always been there for me.
The one, who understands me more than anyone else.
The one, who knows me and all I’ve been through.
My best friend.
On Tuesday, April 18, 2017 my whole world changed, as my mother opened her eyes one last time, to look at me, then my husband and then her husband, just before she took her last breath. Last weekend, I went back to her home for the first time since she passed and I went through all of her belongings. It was, by far, the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. The pain I felt was deeper than any pain I’ve ever experienced before. My whole body ached just thinking about her. Knowing that I can’t bring her back. Knowing that our daily chats on the phone will never take place again. I still find myself picking up the phone to tell her the latest news about my sons or that crazy thing that happened to me today. Or to say, “I just wanted to hear your voice,” and to tell her “You’re the greatest mom in the world and I thank God that I’m your daughter.” As my knees buckled under the weight of the grief, God whispered gently to my soul, “Hold on to what she gave you.”
She gave me a safe place to be myself. I will miss the fact that she knew my hopes, my dreams, my insecurities and my fears and never ridiculed or criticized me about them. She knew my past and how it affected my present. She understood how something that could be a small thing to someone else, could become and overwhelming obstacle for me. She knew. It was unspoken. And she loved me through it.
She gave me, her only child, the courage to pursue my heart's desire. I will miss her cheering me on; standing in applause saying, “That’s my baby!” No matter how I performed, she always expressed how proud she was of me. If I succeeded, she was proud of what I had accomplished...and if I failed, she was proud that I was bold enough to try. She never demanded perfection from me. She only wanted me to be myself and wherever that led, she was there to support me. If it were not for my mom, I would never have become a gymnast. I had everything going against me, but God used her to help me rise above the unfavorable odds. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She inspired me to walk in my unique identity and to not try to be like everybody else. So, I did…and I do.
She gave me a positive outlook on life. I will miss the safety of our conversations and her never-ending optimism. It was because of this optimism that none of us knew how close she was to death. But my Lord knew it was time for her to go home. She had done what He created her to do. Her mission was complete. And as amazing as it sounds, He was gracious enough to let me know his plans, just 18 days before He took her home. Perhaps I’ll tell you this story another time.
Over these past couple of months, I have learned that grieving is an important process: A life changing process. It is tempting to want to avoid the pain, not think about it…busy myself and move on. But if I don’t grieve well, I will become stuck in a place that will negatively affect every area of my life. Facing my loss has been very difficult and I was advised not to deal with such a tragedy alone. Fortunately, I've had my husband and close friends, who have continued to walk with me and provide the support, the hugs and the listening ears I’ve needed. I’m thankful for them, because I know that if I don’t allow myself to face the reality of losing my mother, I will never see the good that is waiting for me on the other side of grief.
It has taken me a while to accept my mother’s death as a reality. Please know, that this does not mean that I don’t still have waves of deep sadness. But it does mean that the trauma of losing my mother is slowly being replaced by the sweet memories of her that will always be a part of me. Sometimes the waves of pain seem too hard to bear. Then, at other times, the reality that she is in heaven and I will see her again is more real than the ground I stand on. I’m thankful for this comfort. Still, I miss her very much.
If ever you think of me, please pray that God will use this time in my life to mold me into the woman He desires me to be. Also pray that I would hold on to everything my mother gave me, and that the memories of our extraordinary life together would bring the needed joy to my hurting heart.
His Grace is Sufficient,