After losing my mother when I was just 24 years old, our house felt so empty, sad, and lonely. Never in a million years did I think I would be standing up in front of hundreds of people at her funeral, reading her eulogy. But I did. And that was my new reality. I would now be considered a motherless daughter, a group I didn’t want to have to ever join, especially at 24 years old.
The smell of Sunday spaghetti dinners, the movie nights, the family bonding, the holidays, the bonfires, hearing my mom yell “Dinner is ready!”, the laughter, the love, Christmas morning. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, now seemed so distant.
My perfect little world was turned upside-down when my mom was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in July of 2012. She was just 47 years old. My mom was amazing, brave, and one of the strongest women I’ll ever know. Not only was she my mother, she was my friend. The only person in this world who would ever love me at my worst, understand me completely and accept all of my flaws wholeheartedly.
Before she was diagnosed I would say we were an average middle class family with everything we needed. Love being one of them, and man, was there so much love in that house of ours. It was just the four of us – me, my older sister, my mom, and my dad. Happy, healthy, and most importantly, content. Of course we had our ups and downs, just as any family does, but the four of us had a bond that was unbreakable. We were blessed.
On May 27th, 2013, Memorial Day, Our family went from four to three, overnight. Being in that house without my mom seemed so wrong. After all, she was the one who made that house our home. Each day it seemed as if she would walk through the door at any moment and my whole nightmare would end. But she wasn’t going to. She wasn’t coming back and I had to accept that.
I often think to myself how could we ever leave this house? After all, my sister and I grew up here. It was the first house my parents ever owned. How could we possibly bag up all of her belongings, throw them in the trash and just leave?
Is a house really a home if your loved one is gone?
No. It’s not. Because a house, in fact, is just a house. A family is what makes it a home. Just because that house is the only place I’ve ever known her doesn’t change the fact that my mom is no longer physically with us, in our house, and is now in an urn in our living room with “Our Angel, Gina” engraved on it. Memories were just made in that house, but in my mind is where they will always stay. Leaving there would never make me miss or love her any less than I do and the memories I’ve had with her can never be physically taken away.
And just as I thought the world would never go on after my mother died, somehow it did. As much as I would love to hold on to everything forever, I can’t. And it sucks. But just because you move on with your life does not mean you are forced to forget your lost loved ones. They are always tucked away in your broken heart and will stay there forever. And in due time you will figure out a way to live creatively with that bruised and broken heart of yours. Just like I did.