May and June can be bittersweet for many of us with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day ahead. These holidays bring a range of emotions for me, from joy and gratitude to sadness and wishing someway, somehow, life had been different. After the death of a parent, these special days take on a different meaning. For me, my amazing mom died 12 years ago on June 2. I was 22.
A year after her death, I became a first-time mom to my amazing son, Tristan. With the birth of Tristan, he brought a new perspective to my life. All of my sadness was still there, but he became my purpose, my reason. Years later, I was blessed with a beautiful little girl, Layla Janell, named in honor of my mom. Then five years later, I was blessed with a sweet little boy, Channing. God knew what he was doing when he picked me to be their mommy!
What was once an awful holiday for me, changed when I became a mother. I could shift my focus from grieving and regret, to one of honoring her life, her legacy, and loving my children. My children truly changed my life. Now, on Mother’s Day, my children celebrate me, we celebrate her (Gigi), and her amazing zest for life and laughter. I celebrate my love and devotion to them. We do this in a variety of ways: we plant flowers, we visit her gravesite, we continue her legacy of serving others, and we love and live life to its fullest. The tears will always come but now they are accompanied with a smile, and for that I know she is proud.
My selfless mom taught me many beautiful things in a short amount of time. She taught me how to be a mom. She taught me to smile through the hard times. Be grateful for every day. Take time to laugh. Celebrate everything. Take nothing for granted. Never lose hope. Always believe in faith, hope, and love. Our loss was huge, but what she left us with will live on forever.
I share my story of tremendous loss because I know there are others like me. We are all at different stages in this crazy process of grief. But I can tell you, through the pain, the loss, the tears, the anger, you will find your purpose, you will find your saving grace. Focus on the happy times; honor their life, their memory. Make them proud.
But for Father’s day, I do have my dad. In fact, he is just up the road! I am so grateful for my father. He is a very private man; he never shares his struggles or his sadness. I know my dad though; I know his heart, and I know his love. I am very blessed that he is MY dad. We very rarely see eye to eye (haha!); I can be quite difficult. But I know he loves me and he knows I respect and admire him for his strength, love, and dedication to my brother and me. Ever since I was a little girl I knew I was special; he has always believed in me and my dreams. I failed miserably at times but a parent’s love is unconditional. My dad has helped me in times I had no one, nowhere to go, no food, no car, in total despair.
I am blessed to have been given both of my amazing parents. My dad has never let me down. I am so truly grateful for the role he has in my life and his role as, “Papi”, to his grandbabies. Life has not been easy; life has not dealt a fair hand, but my dad is a fighter and he is strong. My dad will always be my hero. What they have taught me about life and living by example; it truly is an honor to be their daughter. I will always be forever grateful.
As we celebrate our parents, whether they are here on earth or in heaven, recognize them and their contribution to your life. Nothing is guaranteed. Every moment we are here is truly a gift. Love your parents while you have them. Tell them. Celebrate them any and every day. Celebrate your love, your gratitude, make memories, and live fully in every good moment. I hope you all do something special with your parents if they are still living, and if they are not, do something in their honor, and go about your day being proud, loving life, and maximizing the time you have with your loved ones. Happy Mother’s and Father’s Day to ALL you amazing mommies and daddies from my heart to yours!