Me: ‘Hey, what are you doing?’
Mom: ‘Nothing… who is this?’
Me: ‘It’s me.’
Mom: ‘I’m sorry, can you tell me who this is?’
Me: ‘Mom, it’s me, Nikki. Are you joking around with me?’
Mom: ‘I’m sorry, you have the wrong number.’
Me: ‘Mom, no, stop joking. It’s not funny.’
Phone hangs up.
That was one of the many times I would feel like I lost my mom when she was still here.
When my heart felt the need to disconnect from her — even when she was still here and so sick — because having her not know me anymore, losing her before she even died, was one of the hardest things.
Nothing really prepares you for the day your mom dies, but nobody even mentions the part where sometimes you lose them before they are even gone.
The chemotherapy, the radiation, the pain medication, the tumor in her brain; all those things had taken over my mom.
They stole her memories, they stole her joy, they stole her laughter, they stole her daughter.
I know my mom would never forget me.
I know she would recognize the sound of my voice on the phone if it was up to her, because she always said one of her favorite things to do was talk to me.
I know none of that was my mom, and all of that was the cancer.
But I still lost her before she died, and in some ways, she lost me too. Because trying to figure out how to be around your own mom, who only remembers you sometimes, changes you.
Even though I lost her in so many ways over the years, nothing can change the fact I’ve found her in so many ways over the years too.
I’ve found her in my smile, or the way my hands lay a certain way.
I’ve found her in something my oldest son says or does.
I’ve found her when her favorite song comes on the radio in the truck.
I’ve found her when my son was born with a birthmark right on his forehead, and we tell him it was a kiss from Nana in heaven before she sent him down to us.
I’ve found her when I do something and my husband says, ‘That’s something your mom would have done.’ And we both smile.
So, I’ll always keep trying to find her. Because even though I lost her months before she really left, I know a part of her will always be here with us in our hearts.”
This story was written by Nikki Pennington of Grief To Hope with Nikki Pennington. The article originally appeared here. Follow her on Instagram here and Twitter here. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.
Read more from Nikki here:
‘For our 1-year anniversary, my husband took me to McDonald’s and bought me the dollar menu. It’s all we could afford.’: Wife insists ‘being treated like a queen’ looks different ‘than what the world told you it should’
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