“You need to take care of yourself. When was the last time you sat down and had a full meal? Are you getting enough sleep? You need to slow down.”
As I finally find a moment at the end of a very long day, these are the words I imagine my mom would say to me if she was here. I haven’t heard those words from my mom in forever. Even in our last years together, she was so ill that her own care and health became the center of our conversations. As she fought hard to overcome the neurodegenerative disease that would eventually steal her from me, I stood alone to accept that I would travel most of my adult life as a sole survivor.
When my marriage fell apart and I was in the depths of the divorce nightmare, I used to imagine myself going home to her house where I would lay on her couch and she would stroke my hair and tell me that I would find the strength to recover and rebuild. When I found love again, I imagined the big hug she would have for us both. Later, when he too passed away suddenly and shattered my world, I imagined her holding me up and helping me care for my children.
Autumn in the Northeastern United States marks the anniversary of her death. During this seasonal shift, I’m acutely in tune with the images and sounds that strike memories of my mom. And I miss her more than ever. In my imagination, she is telling me how proud she is of my children, me and how far we have come. Of course, that is shortly followed up by,” You need to take care of yourself. When was the last time you sat down and ate? Are you getting enough sleep? You need to slow down.”
I am so thankful that my mind allows me to have these moments with my mom. She keeps me in check. Imagining her words and actions have helped me to feel less alone as I journey through life. It is also the gentle reminder that those we love and have lost leave a mark long after they are gone.