19 Mar Life Lessons I Learned When I Lost My Mom
This is, by far, the hardest post I’ve ever written. As I stare at the blank page, I can’t help but blink back tears. This is something I’ve got to do, though. Not for someone to read, not because I want to share what I’ve learned this past month (even though I do), but for me. To get it out. To do what I always do, because I know that somehow, in the way it always does, it will help. I need to write it.
I was in Melbourne when I got the call. My sister was on the phone, crying. My mom probably wasn’t going to make it, so it was time to fly back to Mexico. It was time to go home.
I was supposed to fly to Singapore the next day, but I got on a plane to LA instead. I’ll be honest, I was still positive for the 15 hours of that flight. My mom was going to be okay. She had to. She’d fought her whole life, and she’d gotten through a lot of difficult situations, and I was sure this was no exception.
The second I landed, my phone started ringing. It was my sister again. And just like that, as I stared at her name on the screen, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, not everything was going to be okay.
And it wasn’t.
My mom had passed away sometime while I was crossing the Pacific on my way to see her.
I don’t really remember what happened next. I don’t even know how I managed to make it out of that plane. If Isaac hadn’t been with me, I probably wouldn’t have.
The flight to Mexico is also a blur. I just remember falling in and out of sleep and having nightmares all the way.
Being in Mexico was painful, but at least I could hold my sister in my arms and promise her that we were going to be okay. I could hug my grandmother and tell her just how much I love, need, and admire her. I got to thank my uncle for being our rock. I also witnesses my grandfather’s strength, my cousin’s courage and sensibility, and I cried in my best friend’s arms.
After the funeral I knew one thing- I had exactly one month to get everything that needed to be done, done.
During this time, along with my sister, who happens to be the strongest, most beautiful, caring, and kind soul I’ve ever met, I had to learn. They were the kind of lessons that you’d rather not learn. Not if it means going through that kind of pain. But, I did go through the pain, and I did learn. Now I’m writing them down lest I forget or lose track of them one day.
The first thing I learned is that, in real life, plans don’t mean anything. They’re just a guideline which sometimes makes us feel secure. A rope to hang on to, to have some sort of structure in our lives, in a world where nothing really makes sense. They’re also there to help us get to where we want to be. But, most of the time, they remind us that our lives can change in one second and there’s really nothing we can do to stop it.
I was supposed to be in South East Asia this past month. Instead, I spent it in Mexico packing, selling stuff, crying, hugging, laughing, being thankful to the people who’ve helped us pull through, and mostly loving.
I’m not saying that making plans is a bad thing. Being an obsessive planner myself, I would be lost without them. But what I’ve come to realize is that they WILL change and we just have to adapt and try, as best as we can, to wait for when the time is right to make new plans and start again.
The second lesson I learned is that we must take care of our body. Always. It’s our only vehicle. It’s what allows us to travel, to dance, to run, to hug, to jump, to swim, to hike, It’s our very own temple and we must treat it as such.
It’s our motor, and it’s the only one we’ve got.
Use it. Love it. Cherish it. And please, above all, take care of it!
The third lesson I want to always remember is that, at the end, material possessions don’t matter. Not really. Memories do. Moments, experiences, pictures, and words are the stuff that you can always take with you and will never leave you. You should travel light. The less stuff you have, the quicker you can move, the quicker you can adapt to change, and start anew.
At this moment in my life my only possessions fit inside my 15kg backback. This used to scare me. Now, I relish in the fact that I own so little that stuff won’t be able to hold me back. I have no attachments to things, and my hunger to visit new places, experience new things, and create everlasting memories with the people I love is stronger than ever.
I’ll say it again: things won’t make us happy. And we should never be led into believing that they will.
This one’s a short, but important one. I learned, and my mom always taught me this, that you should never hold back a hug. Never let an argument see the sunset. Always talk, and always listen. Your feelings will always matter and you should always make others’ feelings matter as well. Don’t guard words, but always be gentle with them. Never hurt intentionally and always be humble enough to say sorry if you do.
And the most important one of all: Never wait to say I love you. It may be too late if you do.
Lastly, I learned that we have to live life as fully as we can. We’ve got to cherish each and every second. We’ve got to take opportunities as they come, because most of the time, they don’t wait for us and they rarely come back. We’ve got to leap even if it scares us, and we’ve got to take chances. In the end, it’s the only way to really learn.
Because- as cliché as it sounds- life is short. It’s also unpredictable and confusing and when you least expect it, it turns everything upside down. And it’s terrible. And it hurts so much you can barely breathe. But in a way, it’s also beautiful.
So don’t wait. Don’t make excuses. Don’t stay inside the four walls of your confort zone. Just live!
My mom was such a strong woman. She was tough, sometimes difficult, but she was also warm and loving. A true fighter. A believer.
She suffered a lot during her life, yet she always faced everything with the most positive attitude. She had to fight from the moment she was born, and she never let anyone or anything bring her down. She warmed the hearts of the people around her, especially with her laugh which was so loud, so contagious, and so full of life, you could never quite forget it. It’s the same laugh that’s been in my head for the past thirty days, and each time I listen to it, I laugh along with her.
It tears me apart to think that she deserved so much more than what she was dealt with, but then I remember her smile, her enthusiasm for the little things, her hunger for life, her passion for travel, the light in her eyes every time she got to experience someplace new, how she lived to try and cook new food, and the way she loved the smell of cruise ships, and I come to understand that for her, it was enough. She knew how to make the most of every situation, and she tried to be happy.
She did so much in so little time and her legacy will live on.
A lot of people will miss her deeply. I know I do.
But now, the most I can do to honor her is keep traveling and exploring as much as I can. Go through life with my eyes wide open. Go into every new experience with my senses bare. To love until it hurts, to laugh as hard as she did. To cry myself to sleep and be proud of my tears. To always try. To conquer, to fail. To give everything I’ve got even if I don’t get the same in return. To tell the truth. To dream, awake and asleep. To plan, and let plans fail. To eat, to sweat. To try new things, and never stop doing the ones I love. To write, dance, and read.
To learn. To live.
To make her proud.
Te quiero, ma. Te extraño. Me duele, pero pienso en ti y sonrío. Este año va por ti.