I've been working with one of our contributors, Sydney Moore, on a very beautiful piece she wrote on the loss of her mother. We were going to publish it later this month but thought that today, Mother's Day, would actually be the better day because for some, Mother's Day is a reminder of love that's no longer around. Grief is an incredibly difficult experience to navigate. There's no one way to do it and sometimes the only thing that can soothe it a bit is knowing that you're not the only one out there grieving. So with that in mind, we're sharing this beautiful Sunday read with the hope that it will touch someone that might need it.
When I was 18 I read Cheryl Strayed’s essay “The Love of My Life” about losing her mother. The essay was the prequel to her bestselling novel-turned-movie, Wild, and it made me fall in love with prose and writing. At the time I thought I was empathizing with her, as I had recently lost my uncle. I thought I could understand her pain.
I was wrong. But young me was so invested in her story that there was no way I didn’t 100% understand her.
When I was 19 I unexpectedly lost my brother-in-law of one year and temporarily lost my vision in the same week. And I thought I understood Strayed’s repeated phrase, “I cannot continue to live.”
I went on a rampage. Drinking, sex with boys who didn’t give two shits about me, and abusing the oxycodone the doctors kept giving me well after I needed it. I felt like I understood her, running from the pain into the arms of escapism was clear and easy to comprehend.
But I was still wrong. I still didn’t understand.
When I was 22 I received a call from my mother telling me she had a rare form of leukemia. She said that she would fight it for us (my sisters and I). And at that moment I knew she would die—I said, “you don’t have to do that,” and felt like I gave her permission. Our entire lives she was always fighting—from having my oldest sister at 16 in the projects to having to quit her high-paying job because my youngest sister was constantly in and out of the hospital. She was always fighting. Fighting the stereotypes of a Black woman, fighting the trauma and mental health issues of her family, and fighting to be a mother to children she never expected to have. So, I told her it was okay. She never said she wouldn’t fight it for herself but for us–my sisters and me–and at that moment, deep down I knew I needed to tell her she could rest. That her fight was over. So, I did.
Four days later she had a massive brain bleed that required us to unplug her the next day.