“The most important thing is family.” – Walt Disney
I recently posted a two-part series about the day I lost my mother. That was a day that changed my entire world including the trajectory of the rest of my life. I know without a shadow of the doubt that the way my heart broke that day left permanent cracks within my soul that will never truly heal. In the four and a half years since, I’ve learned that those cracks don’t have to be a bad thing. This is because, in many ways they’ve led to what I believe are my greatest strengths.
I spend a lot of time writing and speaking about this experience and growth, and it is really important to me that in that, I never give off the impression that I’ve gotten through it alone. I am blessed beyond measure to be surrounded be remarkable people who’ve lifted me up in my darkest hours, and I can truly say that without them I would not be where I am today.
In this post, I am celebrating a very special group of those people. I want to honour, thank, and recognize the support and kindness that’s been given to me so selflessly by my family … Not just in the past four and a half years, but all of my life. The day my mom died, it was not just me who felt that loss. My mom was a daughter, a sister, a cousin, an aunt, a friend, and so much more. Those who’ve shared in the burden of her absence know my struggle better than anyone, and while I am so incredibly sorry for their pain, I am also so incredibly grateful to have them by my side. I’ve learned so many lessons from the relationships they shared with my mom, and today I’d like to share those with you.
My Mom Was A Sister.
My mom was the third child in a four-kid family. My grandparents had three girls and one boy, which means I was lucky enough to spend my childhood surrounded by the incredible love of my aunts and uncles. I am so grateful for the network they’ve been for me throughout our grieving process.
My mom and her siblings were extremely close, though of course they did not always see eye-to-eye. Anyone who knew my mom would agree that she could be quite vocal with her opinions (if you’re reading this and thinking that’s where I must get it from … hey, at least I come by it honestly!). She never shied away from brazenly sharing her thoughts with her brother and sisters. When this happened, the four of them seemed to have their own language of back-and-forth banter that no one else could possibly speak. My mom’s siblings got her in the way that only the people who’ve shared your childhood can. She loved them so, so much.
My mom was also a sister-in-law, by grace of her siblings finding their husbands / wives. Looking back, one thing I really appreciate about those relationships is that I honestly can’t remember a time that my mom spoke about her siblings spouses in a way that implied the ‘in-law.’ They were family, plain and simple. Which meant she loved and embraced each of them as boldly as if they were blood.
As anyone who is not an only child will attest to, sibling rivalry is very, very real. But sibling love is so much stronger. I know my mom’s love for her siblings is undying, and I know she is watching us with endless gratitude for the support and kindness they continue to show me every single day.
I realize now the courageousness my mom had in giving love so freely. As I reflect back and learn this lesson, I’m making it my intention to emulate my mom in that respect every day. I am so grateful to have the relationships she had with her siblings (and siblings-in-law) to look up to, even to this day.
My Mom Was An Aunt.
Between their four kids, my grandparents had 12 grand kids! Growing up, this meant cousin sleepovers, family road trips, someone to hang out with at holiday dinners, and so much more. As with many families, my cousins were some of my very first friends. For that, I am very grateful!
My mom loved her nieces and nephews deeply. She loved to hear stories about what they were learning at school, or where they were working, or how their relationships were going. She kept up to date with their lives the best she could, and truly did deeply care about each of them on a personal level. I know how heartbroken my mom would be to be missing out on being here for the rest of their lives.
Through her example, my mom showed me that investment in the lives of others is the best gift you can give to your relationships. This means asking the questions, listening to the answers, and actively showing your love every chance you get.
My Mom Was A Friend.
Growing up, our household had an unspoken rule of an open-door policy. Friends were always welcome, and because of that, an empty kitchen on a Saturday night was scarce in our house.
There is nothing quite like the friends who become family, and throughout the years this was a blessing we saw first-hand. When my mom died, it wasn’t just the blood-related family who lost a piece of their heart. I know many of our non-relative loved ones felt this loss on an equally deep level. We have family friends who’ve continued to be an important part of my life, and their love never goes unnoticed by me. I know that my mom sees it too.
Her friendships taught me that family is so much more than blood. Our friends have taught me that showing up for one another is sometimes the very best thing you can do.
My Mom Was A Daughter.
My Grammie and Grampie miss my mom terribly. That’s undoubtedly an understatement, but there truly is no other way to put it. Grief and loss are an absolutely harrowing experience, and it breaks my heart more than I can put into words that my grandparents must endure the pain of the loss of a child. It’s unfair and cruel. At times, it makes me question everything.
At the same time, however, I must commend my grandparents for being quite literally two of the most incredible human beings I’ve ever known. They truly are the face of resilience. The way that they’ve continued to lead our family through the deepest, darkest valley is astounding. In the midst of their pain, they continue to be beacons of light. They continue to be wise, and funny, and unpredictably charming. My mom loved her parents fiercely, and it is certainly no wonder why.
My Grandparents have shown me what it means to have unshakable faith. They’ve shown me what it means to have abiding love. They’ve shown me what it means to have unwavering strength. They are who I want to be when I grow up.