I opened up the front door yesterday, and was slapped in the face with an unexpected blast of chilly autumn wind. Backing up, I went to the closet and reached up to the top shelf for a pair of gloves. I felt the soft, worn leather as I pulled them down. The minute I saw them, I knew….as I slipped them onto my hands and felt the silky fur on the inside, I knew. As I raised my hand to wipe a tear from my eye I could smell the soft, sweet smell of her, mixed with the scent of the leather.
It has been a little over two years since I lost my mother. I think about her every single day. I still reach for the phone when I have good news just as I reach for the same phone when I have a bad day. Too often, I took for granted the advice and guidance I had ready and waiting at the other end of that telephone line. Calling her was like pulling up to the gas pump to refuel when my strength and courage were running on empty. She always knew what to say and how to articulate her point with subtle finesse.
When I felt abandoned and alone, a prisoner in my home, weighing over 500 pounds, she was one of the very few people who came to check on me almost every day. She brought healthy food, along with vitamins, books and movies for me to occupy my time and exercise my mind. I realize today, how much that must have hurt her to see me there, desolate and immobile, in my bed. We celebrated together when my insurance company finally approved my weight loss surgery. She rode silently beside me when we were forced to hire a car to take me to the hospital for the surgery. I was far too large to fit into the front seat of her little Ford escort. She was the last person that I saw before being wheeled into the operating room and she was right there holding my hand when I awoke in intensive care. The surgery had saved my life. It did not resolve my food addiction but it placed a band aid on a wound that would one day return to haunt me.
Together, my mother and I rediscovered the world, as I quickly lost over 220 pounds, enabling me to do things and go places that had been impossible just a year earlier. I broke her heart again however, when my addiction resurfaced 6 years later and adding alcohol to the miserable mix, I regained 170 pounds. I promised her that I would “fix” myself and I am thankful that she lived to see my resurrection. She was the inspiration and the motivation that guided and often pushed me through my darkest days. Her faith and steadfast belief in my success, led me to quit drinking, and lose that 170 pounds again…the healthy way.
People say it gets easier; it doesn’t. Others say it won’t hurt as much with time, yet the pain hasn’t stopped. I beam with pride however, when people declare, “You certainly are your mother’s daughter.” I get that. Her spirit does indeed, live on through me. She bestowed many gifts to me through her lifetime; among them, courage, self-determination, and tenacity, which have driven me to this brand new path that waits. Today, as I boldly take the first step, I begin an exciting, unpredictable journey and though I do not have my mother’s hand to hold or her soft words to give me strength and encouragement, I do have her incredible foresight and vision to guide me. I take with me the lessons that she taught and the powerful values she instilled. Yes, I walk alone in body on this forthcoming adventure, but I take comfort in knowing that her spirit will laugh and dance beside me all the way.