The day my mother said she was sick with cancer was Christmas. We were at her house, standing in the kitchen. And with tears in her eyes, she said, “I have something to share.” She said, “I have cancer, and the doctors do not assure me life.” My siblings and I were shocked. There was a moment of silence in the room. And like an out-of-body experience, I saw myself in that room as I observed everyone and their reactions. It took a lot for her to admit that she was sick and acknowledge that she may not overcome this. At that moment, I said something that did not get me many brownie points in the holidays.
As a believer, as a Christian, I believe there is an afterlife. And I believe that if we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our savior, He guarantees an afterlife with him eternally. And my mother had been a believer for many years. She was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. She wasn’t a perfect mother, and she wasn’t a “perfect” Christian. Still, she never abandoned her faith, and she never left her family. At that moment, while everyone was weeping and there was a sense of anxiety in the room about what will be next, I said to my mother the words of Paul, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
The information my mother that holiday season gave way to a very challenging moment, leading to an even more difficult road ahead. I put my life on pause entirely to be there with my mother. And I was fortunate enough to be there on her last day. However, after she passed, it was difficult for me. It wasn’t difficult to realize or understand that she was gone. I knew very well that she was gone, but I almost felt a sense of responsibility in maintaining her legacy.
My thinking was getting in the way of my moving forward after she died, since doing so seemed like I was leaving her behind. It was a heavy burden that I had put on myself, and it was a heavy burden that was causing me a lot of pain. Being able or thinking that I’d be able to live for her as if that was going to maintain the memory of her alive was not a good decision. She taught me so many lessons, and she had been such an influence in my life; however, this was something that was weighing me down. But we do this often; we often take on burdens and responsibilities that aren’t ours to keep. We do this as parents, significant others, and loved ones; we do this as leaders! And finding leverage on how to take what is your responsibility while not overburdening yourself is a difficulty. I came to that understanding and realized that it was becoming burdensome for me to walk. It was becoming hard for me to continue moving forward; even though I wanted to move forward, I felt like I was personally in quicksand. This period was by far one of the most challenging points I had to go through; moving on wasn’t easy.
I wasn’t in denial that she was gone, I didn’t want to forget her, so I was fearful of moving on. Moving on is hard, and it’s scary! Saying goodbye can be difficult regardless if you’re saying goodbye to your loved one who just passed away or if you’re in a relationship. And think what makes it scary is not knowing what’s next. While saying goodbye was challenging, it was necessary, and it freed me up to say hello to the new. The new ways that I could share with my daughters who my mother was, the new ways I could remember her legacy, the unique ways I could honor her as my mother.
I don’t know when it happened, but when I came to the realization that I had to say goodbye, and I did, I found new freedom to be able to soar to new heights. I’ve yet to delete her contact info from my phone. Instead of it, I’ve written quotes she would say, or she had written. Here’s one: ALWAYS CARRY THIS IN MIND; EVERYTHING ARRIVES, EVERYTHING PASSES AND EVERYTHING CHANGES, THE ONLY THING THAT DOES NOT CHANGE; IT IS THE WORD OF GOD MY KING.