Forty, Fifteen…

In July 2020, I celebrated forty years of life. I simultaneously commemorated the fifteen years since my mother died suddenly. 

Fifteen years since I settled uncomfortably into a chair at her bedside at Harborview Medical Center, expecting to pass another night watching her sleep. 

Fifteen years since the moment my then-husband reluctantly informed me she was no longer breathing. I did not want to believe him, so we called the nurse. 

Fifteen years since she put her stethoscope to my mom’s chest, looked up at me, her blue-gray eyes brimming with tears, and told me she was so sorry.

Forty and fifteen were the numbers branded into my mind as my birthday neared in July. In the past, there were other numbers, but I cannot share them with you. Since my mom passed away, I have lost track of the number of times where the intensity of my loss and pain left me paralyzed, only able to listen to “That’s the Way of The World” by EWF while crying in the dark. I cannot count the number of times I asked God why He couldn’t give me a longer break before taking another loved one from me

Friends and loved ones share kind words, seeking to cheer me up when I share my pain with them. “She’s always with you in spirit”-but I would give anything to have her with me in the flesh. “She lives in you”-but I’d rather she lived with me. Fifteen years on, I have accepted my mother’s passing as much as I can. I have healed as much as I ever will, enough that I can now look at pictures of her and smile. But I do not kid myself. I understand that the pain of my mother’s untimely death is one I will carry with me until my own day of reckoning comes. Each milestone birthday and major accomplishment is haunted by the wish that my mother was here to celebrate with me.

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A native Seattleite and East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been.

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