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My Mother’s Reflection

Written By Guest Blogger- Amber Marie Hoonhorst

I think of her as soon as I wake up, those groggy daze before my first sip of coffee. It is her ghost inside me, feeding her addictions from beyond the grave. The way I do my hair and make-up mimics my earliest memories of her. There was a time when I looked at her so much in hopes that my gaze would somehow transform me into looking just like her. I remember sitting on the edge of the bathtub while she stationed herself in front of the mirror for hours. My eyes glued to the movements of her arms as she brushed and styled her long golden-blond hair. The way she looked at herself in the mirror, determined to find perfection. It was as if she were an artist that was creating a masterpiece. As I inhaled the thick polluted air from her hairspray, it cemented my soul with admiration and the desire to look just like her. Everything I know of beauty is from looking at my mother.

Ironically, the possession begins when my mouth goes on auto-pilot. When my tongue is engulfed with her sharp words that my brain doesn’t dare attempt to intervene. Her harsh delivery and dialect catches me off guard as it projects out of me, as if it were my basic instinct, as if I were her.

There were parts of her that weren’t beautiful.

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I only wanted to be the shell of my mother. You see, she was constantly fighting something, something that I didn’t know until she passed. It was a dark traumatic battle that she kept buried inside for so long that it consumed her and became a part of her and a part of me. It was a part of her that I resented and I tried to purge it out of me but her presence was too dominant to not be influenced. She never won her battle, but she didn’t know how strong it had made her either, how strong it made me. I never appreciated her strength like I do now, now that I know, now that she is gone.

The fear of hating my mother before she died evaporated when the despair of living the first second after her last breath. Missing her has made me feel it necessary to be her. All of her. I see her in my reflection now and I never had before. I embrace the moments she possess me instead of denying it as what I thought was her weakness. My own voice softly breaks through, reminding me that I am not her. And the weight of her loss starts from the beginning and I grieve her all over again.

I want her back so badly sometimes that I blame myself. Did I push her away by wanting my own identity? I would always associate myself with a monster for anticipating her absence. Thinking I could finally be myself if she were gone. She conditioned me to be her and I inwardly retaliated by suppressing any part of me that was. She never knew who I really was, and I didn’t either. We both never knew how much of her I am. Now that she is gone, I don’t even know who I am without her, all I know of me is who she was. Because being her is the closest thing to having her here. I thought I could be stronger than her by being nothing like her, untouchable from her influence. I pondered thoughts that she couldn’t even comprehend. I found happiness when she couldn’t. But now I feel abandoned, like a lost child looking for her in every cell that makes up my body, frantically searching for anything that resembles her. The first similarities I find are the ones that I tried to hide. If I can resurrect them, maybe I will feel closer to her. In the moments that I need my mother, I wait for her voice to echo into my consciousness and speak to me.

I tried so hard to figure her out, only so I could make my own blueprint contrast to hers. Now I find comfort in the familiarity of a layout I know, hoping it will guide me to her. When I do find her, I continue to see light in what I once thought was her darkness. I do not want to lose anything else when it comes to her, including myself. And although I am still making sense of her, she is the only clarity I have ever known.

-Amber Marie Hoonhorst Continue reading

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A Letter To The Fatherless On Father’s Day

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Although it was my 48-year-old mother who I lost just two years ago when I was 24, I felt compelled to write a letter to the “fatherless” on Father’s Day just as I did with my letter to the motherless on Mother’s Day. I believe that the loss of a parent is one of the hardest things to endure, even more so when you lose your parent early in life. Fathers sometimes get overlooked and I believe that both parents, mother and father, each play different roles in our lives. Though some may say there is no bond in this world as strong as there is between a mother and her child, I believe a father’s love means just as much to most of us.
Today, Father’s Day, will just be another painful reminder that your dad is no longer here. As much as you want this day to just be over, it really is the perfect day for you to honor his life. Don’t think about things to come that he will miss, instead think about all he has seen in the time you had him with you. Remember back to when you were younger and you looked up to him. Remember when you thought there was no better man in this world than him? Well, there still isn’t. Your father will never leave your side as long as you keep him in your heart, where he will forever stay. He did not want to leave you, he never wanted to leave you for he needed you just as much as you needed him. Today, he does not want to see you sad, for he would want nothing more than to see you smile, see you live, see you succeed.

I have come to find that the best way to heal is to remember. Remember him. Remember the pain of losing him, remember the love you both shared, remember everything. Talk to him, he’s always listening. And more than anything be grateful that you had a wonderful man in your life that you were able to call Dad.
Today, if you feel sorrowful, look into your heart and find peace in all the love he left behind.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the “fatherless” out there. Today is your day too. Celebrate him, remember him, honor him, and most of all smile for him.

Purchase my NEW book Life Still Goes On

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This true story was written with the intent to inspire many. To those who are fighting the fight, keep on fighting. To those who have experienced tremendous loss, we must remember that even through the darkest of days, life does in fact go on.

Read This If Mother’s Day Is Hard For You

Written By: Colleen George

Usually on Mother’s Day I scroll through my Facebook and Instagram reels, flooded with photo after photo of my friends smiling brightly back at me with their moms. The little captions catch my eye; “my ride or die” “‘my number one,” “my best friend”…with plenty of variations. Sometimes I find myself reading through the longer more meaningful captions and find myself wondering what I would say to my mom this year if she were here for Mother’s Day.

Sometimes I look through these photos and I truly don’t mind so much. They don’t phase me.  I can skim through them all without really feeling anything special. I “like” a few of my friends’ posts, then move on with my day, a little unsettled, a little down, but still okay overall. But in the past few years I’ve noticed that I can’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy eating at me when I realize how lucky my friends are. I can’t help but envy the mother daughter photos that flood my news-feed.

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I took out pictures of my mom today and felt an overwhelming sense of sadness mixed with anxiety. My heart sunk when I looked at pictures of my mom and me and realized that the most recent photo was six years old. Of course I knew this was the case, but letting it sink in and actually coming to terms with it was difficult. There are no pictures of us now. There are no photos of us at my college graduation, or of us at our family trip to the shore. There are no pictures of my mom meeting my new puppy. There are no new pictures of my parents, or of my mom and my sister. There are no new photos of us for me to share on Mother’s Day.

It’s hard because Mother’s Day throws this lack of photos in my face, with sales on flowers to target ads covered in Mother’s Day specials. It’s hard to escape from Mother’s Day. And I know I’m not alone in feeling like this. Maybe this year is hard for you too. Maybe you are also missing your mom. Or maybe you are missing the idea of Mother’s day; the idea of having someone to celebrate. You might be missing the idea of buying tulips from the grocery store or of picking up a sweet card for your mom. You might be missing the idea of having a family brunch or of sharing a warm cinnamon bun with your mom today.

 I’m sorry if you are feeling like this too. I’m sorry if Mother’s Day isn’t what it used to be for you, or if it’s always been hard for you. It looks like we both missed out on the VIP passes to this members-only holiday. It’s hard when everyone around you gets to celebrate on the inside, and you are here, stuck on the sidelines, looking in.

Mother’s Day is hard; there’s no way around it. And it comes every single year. I don’t know what you do to get through Mother’s Day (or, let’s face it, Mother’s Day week). I know that I sometimes purposefully try not to let Mother’s Day bother me. I try to avoid it, by putting up an invisible shield, putting on a fake smile, and pretending the day doesn’t exist for me. But I’ve learned the hard way that this doesn’t really help – it just masks over the real feelings.

The thing is, you see, even if you try to force yourself to avoid thinking about Mother’s Day altogether, by simply numbing your feelings or blocking it all out, it still doesn’t make it easy. Ignoring Mother’s Day doesn’t just make the day, or your feelings, disappear. No matter how you get through it, coping in itself takes energy and it takes strength. It inevitably wears you out after a while, even if you think you’re doing just fine. So it’s important to remember that you don’t have to pretend that Mother’s Day is easy. You don’t have to act all “brave,” or act like you don’t have feelings.

While I’m most definitely not going to sit here and advise you to just try not to think about it, or to try to power through, I’m also not going to suggest that you “force” yourself to feel thankful on Mother’s Day. I’m not going to suggest that you force yourself to feel anything, for that matter. Some of you might feel at peace on Mother’s Day. Some of you might feel thankful for your mothers, whether they are present or absent. And for those of you that this applies to, I’m happy that you can feel grateful on this day. It’s a blessing, and it’s important for you to feel this way because it is authentic.

But if you’re not feeling so grateful? Don’t judge yourself. It is more than okay to not feel good. It’s also okay to not feel thankful. It’s more than okay to feel sad or even bitter. It’s also okay to not feel sad at all. You don’t need to judge yourself for what you are feeling. Forcing away a feeling, or trying to make yourself feel a certain way is only harder because it lacks authenticity. Faking it just breaks you. It only makes the harder.  You have to listen to yourself. That’s the main rule of making it through Mother’s day; you have to have your own back.

I don’t know if I truly feel grateful on Mother’s Day. But this isn’t because I’m not thankful for my mom. Of course I’m thankful for her. She was a hell of a mom. But feeling thankful for her and “celebrating” her is just harder for me to experience on this specific day when her absence is highlighted.

What I do feel is discomfort and sadness. I feel upset that I can’t celebrate her in the real, alive sort of way. It feels like the fact that I am “motherless” is being thrown in my face, so this takes over me feeling grateful. Of course I loved and love my mom. But Mother’s Day isn’t the day I can fully understand this.

So remember. If it is too hard for you to find peace today, I understand. You don’t have to try to make peace with Mother’s Day. You don’t have to do anything festive on Mother’s Day. What you do need to do is be judgment free and take it easy. It’s a hard day. And remember that whatever you feel or do not feel doesn’t make you any more or less of a person. I’m not going to tell you to have a good day or a bad day or any type of day. You can see what feels right this year. So from me to you, just have a day. And please, allow yourself to simply “be.”

Purchase my NEW book Life Still Goes On

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The true story of a mother’s undying love through her battle with cancer, treasures left behind after she is gone, and the realization that even through the darkest of days, life goes on..

For more great blogs visit Motherless Daughters!

8 Lessons I Learned After Losing My Mother

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My mother was just 48 when I lost her. I was 24. In a way we knew that it was coming. She had stage four lung cancer and it was only a matter of time until I would have to face the heart breaking reality of losing her at a young age. I realized she would not be there to ever see me or my sister get married nor would she ever get the opportunity to be a grandmother. She wouldn’t be around to celebrate 30 years of marriage with my father and she wouldn’t be there to help me through the troubles most 24 year olds have along the way. I think of her every single day, she is the first thought on my mind the minute I wake up and she is the last thought before I lay my head down to go to sleep.

Through the heart break, change, and devastation I have learned some key points that will help me along with several others on the healing journey.

1. Nothing lasts forever.

Every time it rains, it stops raining. Every time you hurt, you heal. After darkness always comes light and you get reminded of this each and every morning. Bad times make good times better. Nothing lasts forever. Not the good or the bad, So we all might as well smile while we are still here.

2. Love is stronger than death.

My relationship with my mom continues on each and every day and will for the rest of my life. I see pieces of her in myself every time I look in the mirror. She lives on through me. When I hear mine and my moms song “Some Kind of Wonderful” by Grand Funk Railroad I feel as if we are together. Physical planes cannot separate love and i know this to be true.

3. It will forever be a part of who I am.

I’ve met many people after losing my mom. It’s almost as if I want to introduce myself as “Hi, I’m Jenna, I’m only 25 years old, I’m a motherless daughter and I lost my mom to lung cancer.” The question “So tell me about your parents?” is like nails on a chalk board. Those who truly know me and knew my mom know pretty much every heart breaking detail of the pain I’ve endured after losing her, but for those who I’ve recently met or have yet to meet have no idea. Losing my mom has reshaped who I am, how i see the world, and has changed my life forever.

4. Memories are gold. (Seriously. Cherish them.)

Oh the memories, they flood through my mind all the time. The good memories are more so from before she was diagnosed with cancer. But I will literally NEVER forget the last few days of her life. We shared laughs, cries, and all different types of emotions but the memory I will be forever grateful for occurred just minutes before she died. I knew something was wrong, she was rushed to the Medical ICU where her heart rate was sky high and her blood pressure was dangerously low. My heart was beating out of my chest, I grabbed her hand looked her right in the eyes and my last words to her were “I love you so much”. She looked at me, squeezed my hand and she didn’t have to say a word, I knew how much she loved me. In that moment i realized that I have received more love from her in my 24 years with her than most receive in a life time.

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5. Some things will just always be out my control.

Watching someone you love suffer is one of the worst experiences you can imagine. All you can do is stick by their side, hold their hand, and try to make them smile through the pain. It’s a huge sense of helplessness and you want to take on the pain for them but some things will forever be out of your control. I fought endlessly to try to save my moms life and I just couldn’t, there was nothing more I could do but let her know how loved she was.

6. Music heals.

I personally love music, I love songs with deep meanings. One song that makes me smile when I am feeling down is “Footprints in the Sand” by Leona Lewis. Whenever I hear it, it reminds me that my mom will be right next to me for the rest of my life, not physically but I know her spirit will continue to follow me.

“Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.” – Elton John

7. Life is for the living, So live it.

After a tremendous loss I’ve heard of many people losing themselves or getting caught up in the bad rather than the good. I often find myself doing certain things and I think how unfair it is that my mom isn’t here to enjoy the little pleasure that life brings. I also look at it as more a reason to go out and live. I do the things she loved to do, I do the things I love to do, more so now than ever. Life is just too damn short.

8. To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

After my mom passed away I felt a strong urge to share her story with anyone who would listen. I even went as far as writing and publishing a book. I figured if I could make it though the worst time of my life than i could help others do the same. I’ve had random messages online from people telling me how inspiring my mothers story is, I’ve had strangers come up to me and tell me I’ve helped them through a loss and this is the most rewarding of it all. Through my book I hope to continue to inspire many more.

Click here to purchase my NEW book Life Still Goes On

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Purchase my book “Life Goes On..?” here

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“The true story of a mother’s undying love through her battle with cancer, treasures left behind after she is gone, and the realization that even through the darkest of days, life still goes on..”

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Another “Motherless” Mother’s Day

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Isn’t it strange how fast time flies?  Isn’t it even more strange how fast time flies when the person we loved the most in this world is no longer here with us?

I can remember it as if it were yesterday, May 12th, 2013- only a few short weeks before my 48 year old mother lost her ten month battle with stage four lung cancer.  I remember the exact feelings from that Mother’s Day.  The feeling of being outside, the weather was getting warmer and the sun was shining.  I recall looking at my mom and thinking to myself “This may be the last mother’s day I get with her”….and it was.  Now here I am almost four years later, another “Motherless” Mother’s Day is approaching and I can’t help but wonder just how different my life would be if she were still physically here with me.  Would I appreciate all of the things I have or was it her death that taught me how to do that?  My mom was so full of life, as I am sure you mother was as well. Death is not fair, it never is.  When I hear people say “Well she is in a better place now.” Or “It was her time to go.” I can’t hold back the sadness I feel. Maybe she is in a better place than she was when she was suffering through the cancer but the only place she truly ever wanted to be was by her family’s side. It angers me when I look back and realize what she has missed.  There are times when I can’t even remember the sound of her voice but I can never seem to bring myself to listen to that last voicemail she had left me.   How can four years make you forget the sound of somebody’s voice who was such a big part of your life?  You wake up one day and you start to forget all of the things and feelings you swore you would always remember. I wanted the world to stop when my mother died but life goes on and it goes too fast.  I miss my mother now more than ever, as I grow older she stays forever young.

So as I approach my fourth Mother’s Day without my mom I will still continue to do what I’ve done every single Mother’s Day.  I will celebrate the beautiful life that was cut way too short.  I will not sit around and feel sorry for myself, I will feel proud that I was able to have 24 wonderful years with one of the most amazing people I have ever met, My mother.  And as other’s celebrate with their mother I will celebrate my mother, I will honor her, I will remember her, I will send her a little balloon to heaven, and I will make sure that her life is never, ever forgotten.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mother’s in heaven and Happy Mother’s Day to all of the “Motherless” out there, I want you to know that you are never alone.

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Read This When You Miss Your Mom

“Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever? If so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back.” 

Mitch Albom, For One More Day

Losing a mother is one of the most devastating things in the world.  It happens and we somehow find the strength to go on.  The days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months, and before we know it here we are years later, wondering how we have made it this far without them physically in our lives.  I’d like to think that when someone we love dies their body goes but their love remains.  They live on through us.  Through the things they left behind and the memories they have made.

You’ll always miss your mom but there are moments in life when you just miss her a little more than usual. You’ll miss her when you’re simply in the store shopping and you see other women shopping with their mothers.  You’ll miss her when you can’t remember that recipe she begged you to learn.  You’ll miss her when someone else loses their mom.  You’ll miss her when something great happens and she is the first person you want to call but you know if you tried, it wouldn’t be her voice on the other end.  You’ll miss her on Mother’s Day when everyone else is celebrating their mothers and you feel all alone. You’ll miss her when you’ve had a bad day and you know that her embrace is the only one that can save you.  You’ll miss her when you meet someone who reminds you or her, or has the same laugh as her, or was just as kind as her.  You’ll miss her when you’re all alone in bed crying yourself to sleep because the thought of her being gone still comes as a shock to you. You’ll miss her when you need her advice.  You’ll miss her when you no longer get to talk to her five times a day.  You’ll miss her when you hear her favorite song.  You’ll miss her when you see older women who were lucky enough to live their life that long and you’ll wonder why you mom wasn’t able to.  You’ll miss her on the holidays and you’ll miss her on her birthday when you realize that another year has passed. You’ll miss her when you wonder what she would look like years later.  You’ll miss her when you go through a horrible break up and know her words are the only ones that could ever help. You’ll miss her when you’re staring at the beautiful summer sky wondering where she is but when you miss you mom remember how much she loved you, remember that she never wanted to leave you and there is nothing in this world that she wouldn’t have done to be able to see you live out your life.  When you miss your mom, go that extra step to make her proud, live the life she wanted you to live, be the person she wanted you to be.  When you miss your mom do something to honor her, something that can bring you joy.  When you miss your mom remember the way it felt to be around her, the way she hugged you, and the way she would have done anything in the world for you.

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But most importantly, when you miss your mom know that it is okay to miss somebody that much, that’s what unconditional love is and that’s what she has given you.

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Losing My Mother, Finding Myself

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There truly is no other love in this world like the love of the mother. And man, the love I received from my mother was truly incredible. She taught me so much, she taught me everything. How to love, how to care, how to feel, how to forgive, and most importantly, how to live.

She was my rock. My heart. My best friend. She was the only person in this world who would ever fully understand me and love me unconditionally.

As my 23rd birthday came and went, I held the world in the palm of my hands. I had everything I could ever want and everything I could ever need right in front of me.

Until that horrible day in July of 2012 when my family and I received the heart wrenching news that the spot they found on my mother’s lung was in fact cancer. Stage four lung cancer no less. One of the deadliest and most aggressive forms.

My world stopped.

Everything I had worked for suddenly didn’t matter anymore. Everything that seemed so big all of a sudden looked so small. My life was turned upside-down in an instant.

My mother was about to face the biggest fight of her life and I knew how hard she would fight, not for herself, but for her family and all of those who loved her so much.

Knowing somebody you care so deeply about could be ripped from your world in a matter of seconds is a very scary thing. But then again cancer shouldn’t make us realize that.

My mom put her brave face on, suited up and was ready for war. But cancer never plays fair and sometimes even the strongest of soldiers don’t survive the battle.

10 months after her diagnosis, my mom became my angel. And as I stood at the podium and read her eulogy I realized I had two choices. I could sit around and feel sorry for myself and let my life turn to shit, or I could find a way to rise above the biggest loss of my life.

So I decided I would go with choice number two.

The loss of my mother was devastating. I would wake up every morning and wipe my tear soaked eyes, hoping that this would all just be a bad dream. But it wasn’t. I would now be a motherless daughter at the young age of 24.  I didn’t exactly know how I would make it through choosing choice number two, but I did.

Each and every day without her would be one day further apart from her. One more day that she would miss. I was angry. So angry. Not so much for myself, more so for her. I was angry that she would miss so much. Angry that she would never get to see her babies get married, angry that she would never be a grandmother, angry that so much had been ripped away from her.

Weeks went by, those weeks turned into months and suddenly one year later I was looking in the mirror unable to recognize the girl staring back at me. I was different now, I was changed for the better. Yes, I lost the most important person in my life, but I gained so much in turn. I found the things I love, the things I deserve, the things I want, and the things I need. I made it through and became the woman I am today.

Although my mother’s physical presence is gone, I hold her in my heart every day.

Would I trade everything I’ve learned and all I’ve become to have my mother back here with me? Of course I would, but that simply is not an option.

So for now I will continue on with that choice I made the day I said my final goodbyes to her.

I miss you, mom.

“If it weren’t for cancer, I’d say I have the perfect life. If it weren’t for cancer, would I even realize it?”

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