I wanted to start this Blog today by writing about how much I miss my Mother, and how hard it has been living life without her. I wanted to dedicate this Blog, and all my writing to her, because she was always the one who encouraged me to write. For years, she would read things that I had written and said, “You did not write this, someone helped you.” She was not saying that to put me down or discourage me. She was doing the exact opposite, she was telling me that she thought that it was so GREAT that, it was remarkable to her how well I could put a poem, letter, short story, or anything that I had written into just the right words. For that, I will forever be grateful.
So, I woke up this morning April 26, 2019, the day I have been dreading for an entire year and had to do the things that I have to do every morning. I get up, go into my daughter’s room, to that beautiful smiling face, I grab her out of her crib, change her diaper, make her breakfast, and have my morning coffee. As she eats, and watches her iPad, I reflect on my upcoming day and think about the many things that I will have to accomplish. Today however, I was not thinking about any of the future things which I had planned, I was thinking about this exact day last year, and how at 7:30 am, I had no idea that my Mother was no longer alive. I was texting her to tell her, that I was sorry that I had not answered the text she sent me at 11:30 pm, the night before. I did not get a response at that time, but I chalked it up to the fact that she was probably asleep still. As the day went on, I had given my daughter hot dogs for the very first time for lunch, something my mother had been urging me to do for months. I texted her again, I excitedly sent her a text about how my daughter had eaten her hot dogs, and how much she loved them. There were even emojis of little hot dogs after what I had written. I was literally ecstatic to be able to tell her, how right she was, and how I needed to listen to her more when it came to taking care of my baby. Again, there was no text back, no phone call, just a thought on my part, that she has to be busy, sleeping, or her phone may be on silent. She did that a lot because her sleeping habits were not that of most “normal” people, because she had worked the night shift at her job for close to 20 years. From that moment on, I just went about my day, as I would any other. I played with my daughter, cleaned up behind her, put her down for her naps, and waited for the day to become early night, so I could put my daughter to sleep. At 7 o’clock pm, I tucked my baby girl in, went into my room, and FINALLY got to relax with my husband. A few hours later, my phone rang. I silenced the ringer and ignored the call. The phone rang again, to which I did the same as the time before, I ignored it. Finally, after about 4 calls, I answered the phone and heard the words, that would FOREVER change my life, break my heart, and kill a part of my soul that I would NEVER EVER get back. It was my brother, calling to tell me, “Mommy’s dead”, to which I replied, “Yeah right, stop fucking around!” He must have said it again, but this time adding an, “I swear April, why would I joke about something like that?” You see, I did not really believe he was joking or fucking with me, it was more like, I was wishing and praying that he was. The weight of what he had just said, was entirely too much for me to bear. I dropped the phone, fell to the floor, and started screaming, “My mother is dead, how am I ever going to live without my mother?” over and over and over, I just kept screaming the same thing. I could not think, I could not function, I could not, for one second, comprehend how on earth, I was ever going to stop the excruciating pain that I had IMMEDIATELY started to feel.
The next few days were a blur. Funeral homes, life insurance questions, having to take care of my daughter still, making sure I was doing to my best ability, exactly what my Mother had told me time and time again to do when she passed away. I remember thinking a lot, about how I had wished I’d listened more, when she was telling me those details, instead of shutting her down and saying, “Stop talking about this, I don’t wanna hear this.” I went through the motions, day after day, until all the Funeral stuff was done, then proceeded to have what I now see as, an emotional breakdown. I was helping to take care of my daughter, I thought. It was not until 4 months after her passing, that I realized I was there in what was, pretty much my dreams and delusions. If it were not for my husband, holding it all together, I would have most likely, stayed in bed, pulled the covers over my head, and never dealt with life, my responsibilities, my daughter, or anything else EVER AGAIN. I was drowning in pain, heartbreak, anger, confusion, and this INCREDIBLE HURT, that unless you have lost your mother, you could NEVER understand in a million years, because there are no words, no explanations, no getting anyone to understand what it is like when, the woman who brought you into this world, the woman who loved you when you didn’t love yourself, the person who, despite a 12 year addiction to heroin, still managed to NEVER give up on me, never stopped loving me, and forgave every wrong I had ever done to her. Until I had a daughter of my own, did I TRULY understand, how much I must have killed her inside, every time I came home high, all the times I stole from her, lied to her, screamed the words “I hate you” at her, made it impossible for her to sleep at night, when she had no idea where I was, or if I was even alive.
Today, a year later, the pain is still there. That hurt, I had written about earlier, it is still there, and it has not gotten any less, it has just gotten easier to ignore in order for me to continue being a part of the living. So, I can be a mother to my daughter, a wife to my husband, a sister to my brother, a friend to my friends, and a woman who, can show a strength for all those people, I learned from my mother, when I watched her lose my father, to a drunk driver. When he walked out the door one night, to drive my Uncle home, he NEVER came back. I was 3 years old when that happened, my brother was 8, and despite a few rough years, my Mother, through all her unimaginable pain and heartbreak, raised us to be strong, loving, caring, human beings, when I am sure, that all she really wanted to do, was get into bed, pull the covers over her head, and let herself be so overcome with grief and hurt, that she did not want to live anymore. Thanks to that woman, who showed me, that you can get through ANYTHING in life as long as you never let the pain of life be so overbearing that it keeps you from being a part of the living. As much as I will always miss her, and in spite of the all-encompassing pain I feel on any given day, it is ironically because of her, and who she was, that I am getting through life a day at a time, a minute at a time, and sometimes, just a second at a time.
In loving memory of my mother and the best friend I ever had,
April Mary Elliott
April 5, 1954 – April 26, 2018