I sat there and felt her hand grow colder and colder. When she took her final breath I felt as though a Mac truck had hit me over and over again. But I couldn’t cry. The rest of the day was a blur. The next thing I knew, I was at the funeral home, staring at my mother, dressed in her favorite shirt and jewelry. I watched her chest and thought it was still rising and falling. I stood for two hours receiving condolences. From two o’clock to four o’clock, then from seven o’clock to nine o’clock then again the next day. When Saturday came, it was time for the funeral. We paid our last respects and went on our way.   As I watched her casket being lowered into the ground, I knew I would never hear her laugh again. I would never see her smile again. I would never feel her touch again. That’s when it hit me, like a thousand sharp knives into my quickly beating heart. She’s gone forever. To this day, I still mourn the death of my mother. The death of my aunt Bette Ann brought back unresolved feelings from two years earlier. I want to cry, I want to scream, I want to curl into bed and never wake up. But I know I can’t.  There are a couple messages I want to convey to people like me. Messages I wish I had heard when my mother died. One—Life is precious. Life is so precious and my mom and my aunt knew that better than anyone I know. My mom always said to pick your battles. She taught me not to get upset over the things that didn’t matter. If you waste your time being upset, you will never see how beautiful life can be. So you save your tears for the things that matter.  Also, one thing death does better than anything is it teaches you to appreciate the people left in your life. I hate the fact that my mother isn’t around anymore, but with her death, I gained more mother figures than I can count on two hands. You find the people in your life that you know you can’t live without and cherish them. Cherish them until they get sick of it, because you really never know what the future holds. Two—Loss sucks. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. The absence of that person could even drive you crazy. But it’s not the end of the world. No, it never gets better no matter how bad you wish it would. There is always going to be something that will remind you of that person. For me, it’s listening to Brad Paisley, playing Scrabble, and hearing “The World’s Greatest” by R. Kelly, among other things. These things still make me want to run and scream and yell about how unfair my situation is, and honestly, if I could do that, I would. However the thought of my mother, wherever she is, watching me and laughing at how ridiculous I look stops me in my tracks.  In time, you will learn to smile at those things that once made the void so painful. I can look at a picture of my mother now and smile more than I could before. I do still cry from time to time, but I’ve learned to smile. It never gets easier, but you adapt to life without them, and no matter how hard that is, you have to keep going. If not for your own sake, do it for the person you lost. Three—Everyone grieves at his/her own pace. I am still grieving. I still cry and I still complain about how unfair this is. Don’t let someone else’s grief timeline make you think you’re behind or alone. The truth is, some people go at a faster pace than others. Over two years later, I am still grieving. I am not ashamed to say it. No one should be. Death is the one thing in life that is permanent. If you are unfortunate enough to have lost someone as close to you as my mother was to me, it is going to take time to adapt to life without that person. Especially if he/she is a family member. If you build your life around someone, it is going to take time for you to rebuild your life without that person. Four—Life goes on. A loss makes you wish everything would just stop right in its tracks. You start to see people moving on and it becomes frustrating. You want to be angry, sad, and miserable, but you also want to just be happy again. You cannot let this stop you. There are lines from a country song by Rodney Atkins that go: “If you’re going through hell, Keep on going. Don’t look back If you’re scared don’t show it. You might get out Before the devil even knows you’re there.” Through all of my experiences, I’ve kept those lyrics close to my heart. If you’re going through a bad time, keep yourself busy. Keep on going. Do what you have to do. It’s easy to sit and cry all the time, in order to be strong you have to keep on moving. This does not mean expedite your grieving process. This is all when you decide you are ready to move on. If you feel like you are not, I beg you to remember that life goes on. Times seem bad now, but it can only get better. Five—Live your life for them. The one thing that has kept me going since my mother passed is that I have to make her proud. I believe that my mother, wherever she may be, still loves me and still wants more than anything to watch me succeed. I am in my second year at the University of Maryland working toward my journalism degree. I have not completely moved on, but I have learned to live my life in her honor. Everything I do is for her. I’m working hard so that one day when I finally see her again, I can hear the four words I have been dying to hear from her: “I’m proud of you.” Life is a funny thing. It has its ups and downs and sometimes the bad may seem to outweigh the good. There is no secret to dealing with death. There is no right or wrong way to deal with death. Ultimately, you have to do what is best for you. All I can do is tell you what works for me, and that is friends, family, writing, crying for a couple minutes, counting all the things I’m thankful for, and finally, thinking about how proud my mother would be if she could see me today. I live my life in her honor. It hurts like hell to have to recount all of the painful events of my past, but it is for her. I wrote this for her just as much as I have written it for whoever reads it. I would have killed for guidance when she died. I would have killed for someone to tell me that what I was feeling was normal. So now, I give this to anyone willing to read it. Anyone who is unfortunate enough to have stepped in my shoes or currently travels this path. Just remember that nothing will be the same and the change is going to hurt like hell. But it is a bump in the road that leads to a brighter future. To this day, I am still not particularly fond of the cards I have been dealt. I have learned from a very close friend, however, that everything happens for a reason. You will learn and grow from these experiences. After all is said and done, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Dallis Vargas
My Life Has Always Been Painfully Average By Dallis Vargas
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