An Open Letter To My Mom

Trigger Warning: The content in this article references family death and suicide. Please read at your own discretion, or feel free to check out one of our other articles.

 

On Wednesday, Oct. 16, I woke up at 5 a.m. to a text message telling me my mom had passed away. Looking back now, I can't help but think how unexceptionally ordinary that day was supposed to be, until it wasn't. Everyone knows, on some level, that they'll have to face losing a parent, one day, but nothing could have prepared me for this reality — a reality in which my mom and I lived in different countries, we hadn't seen each other in two years and I had to send flowers to a funeral I was unable to attend because it was an 18-hour flight away from where I live.

But I'm sitting here now, trying to force out words about emotions that feel beyond my writing capabilities. It's a frustratingly familiar feeling by now, since I've been wrestling with these emotions within my own head for the past few weeks. Learning that my mom took her own life felt like a wrecking ball to a little house of cards, and I'm frantically trying to gather the scattered pieces back together in a whirlwind of confusion and grief.

I'm sounding dramatic even to my own ears, so I feel like I should clarify that I'm okay, or as okay as I can be, at the moment. My grief, my unanswered questions and the fierce longing I feel for my mom right now are things I'll have to live with, probably for the rest of my life, but I hear it gets easier. There's been laughter, good memories and overwhelming support from my friends and family during this time too, and that is what I want to take away from the last few weeks, as I begin to look forward again. This is part of the reason why I'm writing this article. Every time I've sat down to write — for Her Campus or personal use — the only thing that comes to mind is my mom, along with a sticky mess of mixed feelings. I'm stuck, and I feel like the only way to move past it is to give into that urge to write to her. This is an open letter to my mom.

 

Mom,

I’ve had to say goodbye to you many times in the past five years. Some goodbyes were harder than others, but that was okay. Our goodbyes never felt like an ending; they just helped to tide us over until our next reunion. No matter how vast the distance of oceans felt between us, you remained a constant in my life, and no matter where I found myself in the world, you were only a phone call away.

I can still see evidence of your messages and past phone calls, showing that the last time we spoke was on Sept. 30, 2019. We talked about something trivial, and I hope I remembered to say “I love you” before you hung up. Your voice is still fresh in my mind from other conversations too, like when I called you in tears, one night, a few weeks ago, and you told me you loved me and supported me, or when you called me, every once in a while, just to say you were thinking of me. Did you know how much that meant to me?

Sometimes, you messaged me, and I didn’t respond. I see evidence of that too — conversations I could have had with you, but didn’t because I thought there was always tomorrow or the next day. I thought I still had so much time with you, and now all I can think about is the lifetime of things I still want to say to you. I want to tell you all the big things, like when I graduate from university at the end of the year, when I get a dream job or if I get married one day; I want to tell you all the little things too, like how my day was and what I’m planning to have for dinner. I wanted to share a lifetime of heartbreaks and joys and aspirations with you, and I wanted to hear yours too.

The silence between those missed calls and unread messages, and the unbroken silence I hear from you now, haunt me so oppressively that I struggle to breathe. Now, when I would give anything to talk to you because you’re the only person in the world who could make this endurable, you’re not on the other end of the phone.

I never thought you’d go somewhere I couldn’t reach you, and I never thought you’d leave me without saying goodbye. I’m mad at you, and I'm confused and hurt, but I also forgive you and love you and miss you so unbearably much. I honestly don’t know if there is a heaven, but if there is, I believe that you found a place to rest there.

Mom, you were so beautiful, generous and kind. That is how I will remember and honour you. I’ll remember making you laugh at my silly jokes; I’ll remember our late night conversations about nothing and everything; I’ll remember how unashamed you were of your love for your children and for your identity. You were so irrevocably you, one of a kind, and I miss you all the more for it.

I’m not sure how to say goodbye to you in this letter — and here I thought we’d gotten pretty good at goodbyes — but I think that’s okay. We’re all going to be alright down here, so please rest easy, mom, and know that I love you endlessly.

Love,

Your daughter.