While I may not be an expert on the subject matter, I have recently experienced and am currently living through the loss of a love one and felt I should write down my experiences and thoughts on the matter. I will preface this by saying the things that I write are purely my own opinions and observations, and should in no way be taken as legitimate advice. While the subject matter is personal, and I am writing about it openly for the world, I will promptly refuse any or all conversations on the manner. I prefer to deal with things my own way and am not trying to reach out for support or advice. Thanks for reading and hopefully this gives someone a better understanding of how loss can affect someone and how there are multiple ways to come to terms with a tragic event.

Andrew Wilson

In my life I have experienced many losses; two dogs, a handful of fish, and a distant grandparent. None of which have come close in comparison to the pain I felt when I lost my mother to Inflammatory Breast Cancer on May of 2015. She struggled against an aggressive cancer for a good two years, and managed to fit in time to do all the things she wanted before she was plucked from this world. Thankfully, my mother wasn’t an idiot, and she properly set things up in the event of her untimely demise to ensure that her two children would be properly taken care of in her absence. I am the oldest child, with my sister being four years younger than myself. We are both well into our 20’s and have had our share of trials and tribulations growing up, from less than ideal fathers, to mental handicaps and unforeseen hardships.

Over the course of our lives, our mother had been the silver lining on a life that while looked ideal from the outside was riddled with it’s own trials and tribulations. She was a beacon in a foggy storm of shit and so on, and so on. Basically, without my mother, the lives of myself and sister would have been a struggle between misery and angst. While she had previously dealt with cancer when she was younger and beaten it back, when she was diagnosed again, we admittedly felt a bit of hope that she would manage to pull the same trick twice and claim an award for beating cancer multiple times in one lifetime. Unfortunately we were wrong, and left to sit in discontent at the loss of that support and strength we had come to rely on.

For myself, I had known that she was going through her treatments like normal, but tend to stray a bit from the exact details. It wasn’t that I was disinterested in how she was doing, I just had this unrealistic optimism that she was going to beat it, and hearing constant progress reports weren’t really worth my time. As I took a family vacation to Disneyland with my grandmother, aunt and cousins, the entire time I just wanted to be at home. It was mostly because the weather wasn’t to my liking, and most of the rides I liked were undergoing maintenance during the off-season, but a small fraction of it was just a feeling I should be at home. While on the trip, I was sitting outside in the rain and gave my mother a call, she said that she needed to shave her hair since the treatment finally started to kill her roots (for the second time). I checked with her to make sure everything was good, and she explained that she needed to be on oxygen, but otherwise everything was good.

I was apprehensive about the oxygen being ‘good’ but I trusted her and came home to what looked a lot less than good. My mother looked like she had undergone a sudden aging spurt. Her hair was shaved off, she was barely able to walk around and had to constantly be on oxygen. When I left, she was still going to her job and now she was unable to get out of a chair and walking to the bathroom without assistance. At that time I decided to become her caretaker and began working to make sure she had anything she needed; food, comfort and company. After a week or so she told me that the doctor had given her 1-6 months to live, my heart dropped. One moment she was battling cancer, and the next she was given an expiration date? I tried my best to keep a positive attitude, but there were a lot of times I just laid in my bed, wondering when and how. Would she die in her sleep? Would it be tonight? Will I get a chance to say goodbye? Does she know how much I appreciate and love her?

My mind was in a flutter all the time. I was running inside to make dinner for her, and to make sure she was content, then running back to do some work, then trying to maintain a social life with friends. It was this cycle of me running around back and forth, but not in an exhausting manner. I wanted to make sure that everyone was doing okay. I didn’t want to ignore my friends, I didn’t want to lose my job and I didn’t want my mother to feel alone or hopeless. I am not trying to tout like I am some amazing person for doing this, in fact, I regret not just rejecting my social life or work and spending all the free-time I had with my mother. There were a lot of things I still have left to ask her, and things I wish I got to know. She was my repository of a past I have no recollection of, a being filled with experience and advice that could last generations. All of it gone, as if it never existed in the first place, minus the photos and fragile memories stored in an brain that will slowly forget over time.

In the days that followed, she had to take heavy medication to make her ‘comfortable’. I use quotes because comfortable, and sleeping all the time, are apparently the same thing in medical terms. I talked with a friend who was in the medical field but unfortunately there wasn’t much I could do about the dosage, as she was just reacting to small dosages, and deceasing them would make taking them worthless for what they were primarily for. So I coped with it. I made sure she took her pills when she was supposed to. Tried to make sure she got some exercise in the day and saw some friends and family as often as possible.

It is hard to watch a human slowly degrade from functioning to bedridden. You see them unable to muster the energy to sit up in bed and there you are able to get up and go grab them something they otherwise would never be able to get without your help. The feeling is both scary and depressing. Over time though, she slowly began to sleep almost the whole day, unable to get out of bed or even talk for long periods of time without having trouble breathing from her lungs slowly shutting down. She required the oxygen to be on at all times and every night was a fear it might be the last.

One night, I was getting ready for bed when I heard her call my name. I ran to her bedside and she said she was having trouble breathing. I helped her sit up and gave her one of her pills to take. She asked me to call Hospice (which is basically a nurse-on-call), so I proceed to talk with a nurse who came over and made sure things were okay. The nurse left around two in the morning and I decided to stay in my mothers room in case she needed anything else. I was 25 years old, I could easily recover from not sleeping for a night. As I stayed there, holding her hand and listening to her struggle to breathe, I thought back to a conversation me and my sister had earlier the night before.

Sister “When is the right time to let her go?”
Me “When she can no longer respond to us. If we say we love her and she gives no response, it is time to let go.”
Sister “Okay…Will she be okay?”
Me “She is just in a rut right now, she should pick back up, but just in case I’d make sure to see her at least once every other day just in case.”

By the time my mind had finally felt at ease enough to rest, my mother awoke and said she was having trouble breathing again and to call Hospice. I Proceeded to do so, and while we were waiting for the nurse, she also asked me to call my grandparents. I was hesitant at first, but she seemed really adamant so I did. The nurse arrived and began to give her a checkup, increase her dosage, and so on. I tried to keep up with what pills she was being given, how many dosages and so on, but running on no sleep and a constant surge of adrenaline made it hard. Eventually things calmed down, she was able to breathe again and my grandparents arrived. As the nurse was leaving I felt the adrenaline start to wear off and I was more exhausted than i’ve ever been before. I told my grandparents what had happened and they told me to take a nap, and that they’d watch her for me. I made sure my mother was alright, and laid down. About an hour and a half later I was awoken violently with my grandmother telling me that my mother can’t breathe and she isn’t calming down. I immediately rushed over to her side and tried to help her out.

I tried to give her some medication, but she didn’t want any. I called Hospice and told them the situation and they sent someone immediately out. As I sat there holding her hand, I watched as her body began to slowly shut down. I wont get into the details, but it was one of the most haunting things I’ve seen in my life. As she was getting near the end, I remembered the test me and my sister had, and the last words I spoke to her were “I love you Mom”. No response. Only continued heavy breathing and her holding back convulsions. At that point I broke down and sat on the floor sobbing. No planning or preparation could make me ready to deal with the surge of emotions. A few minutes later, my mother took her last breath and passed away.

Once it was all over, the family all stood in the living room, unsure of what to say or do. At some point, most began to cry, others just sat frozen trying to accept what had just happened. I sat there both shocked and in disbelief. After some time had passed I decided to let some close friends know of her passing. Most of them had their days pretty much ruined, and came over at some point in the day to both grieve and give condolences. I called my work, explained what was going on and was given the week off to get things in order. From there on, what transpired was what I would slowly come to know as coping with loss.

After my mother’s body had been taken to the mortuary and the nerves were finally starting to settle down, the family began informing those close to us about her passing. I had already sent a message to a few of my friends letting them know and decided that since no one reads newspapers anymore (especially the obituary section) it would be best to write something on my mothers Facebook wall to let her friends and co-workers know. Coming up with something to write after a loss can be tough, you want to just be cut and dry with it, but you also have to consider those who will be reading it. Not everyone takes bad news the same, so writing an obituary requires a tinge of tenderness, a smidgen of fluff and a casual insert of reality. I sat for a while trying to think of something, and eventually came up with this;

This morning, with her loved ones by her side, Tina closed her eyes for the last time and passed on. She put up a long fight against an aggressive cancer, and today, decided it was time to stop fighting and finally find some reprieve. While she may be gone, she will never be forgotten. Thank you all for your support over the years, Tina always felt blessed to have so many of you by her through it all.

As to be expected, the post was immediately strewn with comments. Everyone managed to give a lot of support, warm wishes and so on, which at the moment was comforting to hear. We got the occasional calls here and there over the course of the day from people asking what they could do to help. Overall it was a really nice sentiment and while it didn’t ease the pain, it was heart-warming to know so many people cared about her.

Most of my friends were heart-broken to hear of her passing. She was an unofficial surrogate mother to most of them and seeing people I grew up with in such a disarray was unusual. I tried my best to comfort them and make sure we all dealt with it in a healthy manner, myself excluded. See, the problem with me is that I don’t do the whole ‘grief’ thing, especially in public. I don’t enjoy crying in front of others, I don’t particularly want to hug it out or sit down and have a heart to heart about what is really going on with me. I find it easier to just condense all those feelings, raise my head up and move along. It isn’t to say that grieving is bad, I just don’t feel comfortable facing a problem that has no solution.

When you grieve, the end result is just you coming to terms with the notion that a loved one has passed, and that you will never see them again. I didn’t like that mentality. I don’t want to just accept that they died and move along, I want to figure out how it could have been prevented. Finding why she wasn’t able to survive meant that at the end I could find someone to properly blame for the tragic loss that befell me. I point my finger and clearly proclaim that “You were the one that killed my mother”. I guess I could say a lot of that comes from growing up with a father that acted in a similar manner. Whenever he was in the wrong, he bailed, but whenever it wasn’t his fault, he would find someone to blame, regardless of if it made logical sense or not.

So there I was, supporting my friends who had originally came by to do the same for me, and at the same time reassuring my family that things were fine and also ensure they were doing alright. See, most of my family had this notion that my mother passing would be the hardest on me out of everyone. While the level of difficulty for loss will always vary from person to person, it was peculiar to me that the consensus was me having it the worst. With no discredit to my sister, who my mother clearly loved as much as she did myself, the two of us both had times in our lives where we ‘needed’ the devoted attention of our mother to get through a particular hardship. For me it was when I was in my early teenage years, as I magically created an phobia and anxiety disorder out of thin air somehow between the summer of my seventh and eighth grade.

This attention spanned a good several years, with her constantly making sure I was doing okay, and trying to support me through a situation I still struggle to deal with on a daily basis (and will continue to do so for the rest of my life). During this time I developed a close bond with my mother, one that would become some grand combination of friend and son. There was unlimited trust, a comforting stability and an understanding of the way each-other thought. Personally, it is what I believe to be the best relationship a parent can have with their child, one where they are still respected as both a parent and adult, but also able to kick back and laugh about stupid stuff and or crack jokes to one another. There was no need to keep things from her, because disappointment would always turn into support with her.

Regardless, when my mother passed, I felt that the one who would take it the hardest would be my grandparents. While they are amazing people who have always been there to support their children as well as grandchildren, they are also the survivors that never should have. There is always that saying “A parent should never have to bury their child“, and that saying is true. Watching your child die in your arms is something no parent should have to live through. Most parents come into the world dreading the fact they will have to leave their children behind, children never dread that they will have to leave their parents behind. As time has gone on, they have started to adjust to this new life without their daughter, and generally are back to their old happy selves.

Unfortunately their is, and always will be, that tinge of sadness that looms over them. Every-time I see them I can tell they are still torn about it all. There is nothing wrong with that, it is to be expected, but it is certainly not easy to deal with. I try my best to support them in any way I can; visiting them, going out places with them and so on, but there is only so much that can be done. I can’t take away the things they’ve seen and experienced. I can’t undo the hardship that has befallen them, or give them hope for a better tomorrow. Losing a child is shit, and the pain you experience from it will carry with you the rest of your life. I hope that in time, they will find a stable balance between grief and hopefulness, and maybe one day come to terms with the loss rather than trying to fixate on it.

Back on track; after things with my friends settled down, family members were beginning to rationalize it all and people were informed about her passing, the next stage in loss came out. Condolences. While it is nice to receive, it can also be overwhelming. I am not a big people person, I talk to maybe 5-6 different people a month, and that is mostly people working at a cash register. So when I was presented with over a dozen people sending me messages or calling giving their condolences, you can see my situation. At first it was pleasant, then it slowly became exhausting. My natural introverted tendencies are to avoid contact with as many people as possible, but my stern upbringing taught me to never be rude to strangers either. It was a conflict that had only one real resolution; optimization.

While it sounds disingenuous, I needed to come up with a way that would allow me to give appreciation to those who contacted me while also making my contact with them as minimal as possible. I came up with this line;

Thanks, I truly appreciate your support. It has been tough, but thankfully I’ve had a lot of support from friends and family.

I kid you not that was a note I had saved so I could copy and paste it for when people messaged me. Not to beat a dead horse, but I can’t stress enough how genuine I was for all the condolences, it was just hard for me to be bombarded with so many people I’d have never met or haven’t talked to in a long time telling me how sorry they were for my loss. There is only so many times you can get the same message before you start to give up trying to write back creative responses and just get down to the point. I’m thankful you sent me a message, I’ve had a lot of support during this hard time in my life and you sending me a message meant something to me. I am a cold and calculated person, but I am not heartless.

Another joyful part of condolences is receiving flowers. This I will admit is where my empathy ends and my bitterness begins. I hate flowers. They are over-priced slowly dying plants that will look great in some barely seen corner of my home but will eventually wither away and be thrown out. I just finished watching my mother pass away and then someone sends me flowers? Do you not see the irony? It is like saying “Sorry for your loss, here is another dead thing to make you feel better”. I mean I watched a human wither away and die, you think I really want to fill my home with plants that will basically do the same, condescendingly reminding me of the tragic loss I am trying to deal with? Thanks, but no thanks.

I understand the reason, it is just like how you give a present on valentines day or an anniversary. You’ve been raised with the notion that giving flowers is a nice gesture, but for me, it is not. I do not share that same sentiment, and I know I am certainly not the only one. Other members of my family also received a handful of flowers and were met with the same feeling of dread as they watched these lovely plants slowly die. I will however admit that a few people actually gave me living plants (in pots that could be planted), and I still have them. I like to garden in my spare time, it is relaxing, so getting plants I can take care of and grow actually help my mind stay at ease while coping with the loss far more than a bouquet did.

I didn’t mean to get off on a tangent there, but it was just something that really perturbed me. I wasn’t angry with the people who sent them, more so at the stereotype that flowers are a gift for those who’ve lost someone. As always, thank you to all who showed your support by sending anything, while the bouquets are all gone now, I still keep the cards that were sent with them. While it was overwhelming for me personally, having so many people show their support really gave me comfort in knowing that my mother wasn’t just some spec of dust in a desert.

After the condolences began to die down, what came next was getting all those people together and grieving together in a room.

Funerals are like weddings, it is an event people go to where the limelight is set on someone else and nothing ever seems to go as planned. The difference of course, being that in a wedding, people usually leave the event feeling hopeful and happy, at a funeral, most people tend to leave depressed or nervous. Weddings either remind you of a youthful past or a promising future, funerals remind you of your limited timespan and all the things you’ve yet to experience.

By now you get where I am going with this, funerals aren’t fun. I have heard my share of funeral stories, ones where everyone drank and partied until the sun rose, and others, filled with petty drama and crocodile tears. While it is impossible to know how someone will act at a funeral, it is certainly possible to know how they will feel. This is where clever writing, a decent skill in public speaking and a plan can be all the difference.

When it came down to who would take care of the funeral, I had taken the lead. This was for two reasons; one, I didn’t really have much else to do, and two, I had already talked with my mother about what she wanted before she passed. The plan itself was rather simple; put together a funeral that could reasonably accommodate all her friends and family regardless of where they were or if they could make it. Unlike a wedding, a funeral doesn’t get better or worse depending on how many people show up. If only one person comes to a funeral, the dearly departed can’t be disappointed.

Regardless of what religion you follow or theory on afterlife, one thing is always true, the dead can’t feel. By definition, a funeral is a tradition to honor the dead, in a way that brings closure for those attending. In my case, we held the funeral in a small church my mother attended. She was good friends with the pastor and his family, so they were exceptionally helpful in the planning and preparation of the event. Most of the planning consisted of a schedule for those who would be speaking, when music and a slideshow would be played and if there was going to be an open mic.

The way we had planned the funeral was simple;

Speeches – In order (approx. 10 min each)
1. Myself – [also giving eulogy]
2. Sister
3. Aunt
4. Grandfather
Slideshow / Music (approx. 5-10 min)
5. Pastor
6. Open Mic (approx. 20-30 min)

With the structure of the funeral laid out, and some basic explanation of what I had planned, we agree’d upon a time and date. Once that was taken care of, the second most important part needed to be worked out; how to setup a livestream of the funeral.

I originally pitched the idea to my mother like so; “What if we made it possible for people who don’t live nearby or can’t find time off work to still have a way to attend?”. She seemed to like the idea, and thought it would be nice to have a funeral that worked more around others situations than a selfish desire to satisfy her family. It wasn’t so much that our family in particular was selfish, but that the time and date for a funeral is set to accommodate the family more than anyone else. Since family are the ones who usually need a funeral more than anyone, making it work for them tends to be the priority.

After getting her approval I began to work on how I would achieve this. I didn’t have the money to simply hire someone to come out and set things up, but I also didn’t want to make something low quality either. I decided that I would just have to bring my computer down to the church, plug in the microphones, setup a camera and broadcast the stream privately using my cell phone’s internet. I informed the pastor as to what I had planned, and asked if I could come down and test the equipment. He liked the idea and let me come down a few days before the funeral. I brought all the equipment down to the church, set things up and tested them. It took a few hours, but once things were working, I made sure everything would take but a few minutes to setup and get ready.

With the date selected, the livestream tested and itinerary approved, I made a post on my mothers facebook letting her friends know the details. The initial reaction was confusion towards the livestream, though many who were out of state were very excited to hear they could still attend. The plan was to post a link to the private livestream on the day of the funeral and make sure that it was recorded so people could watch it later if necessary. With all the plans for the funeral taken care of, I was left with a week of waiting and two speeches to write; a personal letter and a eulogy.

When writing any speech, the most important part is not the quality, but readability. If you have trouble reading a speech, it could be the most impressive in terms of content, but sound completely stupid as you stumble trying to read it. I tend to write when I am feeling passionate about the subject matter. Formulating a sentence where you have to think heavily just to finish, usually means you aren’t in the right state of mind to be writing something.

To get into the mood, I turned on some music, put on my headphones and began to write a letter a could hear myself saying to my mother. I would choke up on lines here and there, or find myself writing continual run on sentences. Eventually I pieced together what I could muster saying out loud, and the end result was this;

Dear Mother,

At this point, saying thank you doesn’t feel strong enough to show how grateful I am for all the things you have done for me throughout my life. I know that in the beginning we weren’t always the closest, with my moments of being both a pessimistic rebel and a careless jokester. Over time though, we eventually developed a relationship that couldn’t easily be defined as ‘mother and son’ or ‘best friends’, it was something much more than that. You were always there for me when I needed anything; to ramble on about learning something new, to complain about people you’ve never met and giving me advice when I was in way over my head. Our talks we had, I will miss more than anything.

I am so grateful that we were so close, that I didn’t feel the need to keep secrets from you or worry that you might not love me. You always knew what to do when I was feeling stressed or depressed. You always treated my friends like they were your own children, and gave me the chance to have great memories with them. I miss you so much, and I wish that I could have taken all your struggles away. I know now that you are free from those burdens and you are finally at peace. I wish that you didn’t have to leave, I wish you could be here to continue watching me grow up and give me guidance when I am lost. But I will never forget the wonderful things you have done for me, and I hope that you will be proud of who I will become.

I couldn’t have asked for a better mother, friend, guidance counselor, and mentor. You were truly one of a kind, and I am blessed that I was born your son. Thank you.

While I was able to get through saying this in front of fifty or so people, I still can’t read it out loud personally without tearing up. It’s not that the content itself is sad, but more so the fact the words themselves can’t reach the one they were meant for. I’m not a big proponent for communicating to those who have passed, mostly because the hollow feeling you get when there is no response from them is what really hurts the most. I wish I had a chance to recite this speech in front of my mother, but at the same time, I also know that she already knew everything I wrote.

After saving the speech, I pulled open a blank document and began to write the eulogy. They aren’t as simple as ‘somebody has to do it, might as well be me’ sort of deals; more of a ‘somebody has to do it, though I wish it didn’t need to be done’. A eulogy is usually the first thing to be spoken at a funeral, and rightly so, they are the introduction for the audience of the type of funeral this will be. Going with a more light-hearted tone tends to make attendees feel more relaxed, while a heavy tone tends to set a morose and gloomy feeling.

I particularly didn’t want either. Being too relaxed doesn’t really get the point across that we are here to mourn a loss, but a heavy tone just makes things really tense. Crying is also something I don’t particularly like to be around, so there is that too. I opted for both, a heavy and light-hearted eulogy that gets the point across. My mother lived her life the way she wanted, and enjoyed it, but she was also taken from this world far too early. After a few days of mulling it over, I settled on this;

Tina was a kind soul. She wouldn’t stand out in a crowd, but would leave an impression on someone with just a casual conversation. Throughout her life, she was blessed with a loving family and supportive friendships.

When she was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer two years ago, anxiety and sadness overwhelmed her. She worried about not recovering, what the treatment would entail and if she would lose the chance to do the things she has always wanted to do. Thankfully, with the help of her friends and family, she managed to spend her two years with cancer doing more amazing things than she did in the years prior. Though she still took all those worries and fears, and push them aside to make sure others weren’t impacted by a disease she had no control over.

Her selflessness was without limit, even up until her very last moments. Even when she had bad days, she would still put on her gentle smile and get what she needed done. She was always someone who would rather help others than be helped herself, even when she needed it most. While most of us did everything we could to help her in any way we could, we always felt it was never enough compared to all the things she did for us.

She was a truly amazing woman, with seemingly limitless strength, love and positivity. You will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Thank you for being such an inspiration and we hope you are finally at peace from all the pain and struggles you faced.

Once the day arrived and I gave my speeches, I felt I had made the right choice in the tone I set. Everyone seemed to be mourning, but not depressed. The following speeches afterwards were either kind-hearted or heavy, which worked well with the current vibe everyone had. I spent most of the funeral making sure everything was going well with the livestream; balancing the audio, tossing up the slideshow when it was needed and so on. Keeping myself busy made it much harder to get chocked up listening to people break-down while giving their speech.

The funeral came to a close once everyone had finished talking on the open mic and we all began to move to the back for the reception. After turning off all the equipment I brought, I felt this surge of anxiety. It had finally hit me that my mother was never coming back, and I was left as the only person who truly understood the struggles I go through day to day. I tried to keep myself composed, holding back the shaking with fake smiles, thanking people for coming, and taking breaks now and again to have a cigarette with my friends. The rest of the day I was stuck in a perpetual panic attack, freaking out over the loss of a supportive mother I had been using as a crutch for all my life.

Once everyone began to leave, I gathered my things, hopped in my car and headed home. I met up with my friends and we went over to my grandparents for a private after-party for close friends and family. We all tried our best to talk amongst ourselves, sharing fond memories and eating food. I mostly sat outside, talking with my friends more until the festivities died down and I finally retired to my home. I laid in bed that night, letting all the things my mind had been screaming to me about finally come out. I tried to answer the questions, give retorts back to statements and of course, panic about the future. It was a day I would never forget, but also a day I wish I never had to experience.

When you are faced with a reality you’d rather not accept, it can be hard to not run away and never stop. Just constantly trying to get away from the voices in your head reminding you of the facts that you’d rather be fiction. Somewhere in all that chaos, a small whisper can be heard reminding you that life goes on, and surprisingly, it is true.

If there is a positive in death, it would be the ability to leave all your problems behind. Though, just because you have left them behind, doesn’t mean they vanish. Regardless of how personal the problem is, someone will eventually be forced to deal with it once you pass. For those who are close to death, or contemplating taking your own life, it is always important to remember those who will be left to deal with your mistakes.

With the funeral done and over with, and my brain finally accepting the reality of my motherless situation, I had some work to do. My mother was fantastic with money, she taught me how to manage a checkbook, explained to me the value of a dollar and vigorously warned me about credit cards. Unfortunately, she was not a wealthy person. With much regret, I will admit that both my sister and I have always managed to find ourselves in situations where money was the only solution. Being that we were struggling to even make enough to live on our own, when financial issues arose, we generally looked towards our mother. She wasn’t some piggy bank or debt eraser, but she was far more knowledgeable on how to solve issues when it came to money.

So to my surprise, when I went through her financial situation, I quickly realized my mother was in a fair amount of debt. It wasn’t that she was trying to live beyond her means, or she wasn’t getting paid enough at work. She was in debt because she continually helped out me and my sister with anything we needed. Here I was, sifting through credit card after credit card, noticing all the charges were mostly for stupid situations her two children made. I felt awful, like I had been hindering her quality of life simply because I lacked the common sense to not make fiscally stupid mistakes.

Of course, if you asked my mother, she would never admit it wasn’t worth it. Regardless, with her gone, there was now a mound of almost nine thousand dollars of debt split between several plastic cards. I was angry, not at myself, not at her, but at the reason this problem could even exist. I let out a disgruntled sigh, and with the help of my grandmother, went through each individual account and got the totals, due dates and so on. It took a good hour or two before we finally had things situated.

Thankfully, my mother had a life insurance policy that covered her leftover debt, so the problem itself was less a crippling financial burden, and more of an emotional disgust with myself. The fact remains, the debt of the dead never vanish, someone will have to pay that money. It could be the banks that lent it, or the remaining family caught off-guard. While sometimes it is unavoidable, dying with debt is a bothersome problem. If you plan for it, props to you, thanks for making things easier. If it wasn’t for my mother’s pre-planning, I would be in a situation that could realistically cripple me financially.

While attempting to pay off her debt, I continually ran into a problem; my mother sucked at storing her usernames and passwords. While she wasn’t the most technically knowledgeable person, there is a very important distinction between ‘case-sensitive’ and not. There were so many minutes wasted trying to find the right website, figuring out if the password was case-sensitive or not and running into incorrect login issues. I was slowly getting more and more frustrated with her as the failed attempts began to pile up. I eventually lost it when I was locked out of one of her accounts because I didn’t know the right password or security question.

I just wanted to give some faceless company some money so they wouldn’t get mad, why was it this so damn hard? I knew why, because my mother, as much as I love her, is a complete idiot when it comes to password management. She Stored the damned things in a notebook with no information other than the name of the business the login is associated with. Dear mother, that is not the best way to deal with passwords. At the very least, always include a website. Also, make sure that you write down any sort of security questions you might have setup. Sadly, this woman could barely remember her iTunes password, let alone half of the security questions she set up over the course of her lifetime.

I spent a good hour just yelling at the top of my lungs about how mad I was with my deceased mother for her terrible password management. At the end, I felt no better, but I did get this feeling of nostalgia. I could remember a time I had done the same thing when she was alive, and her response was “Well thankfully you never need to know the passwords so what does it matter?”. Clearly that statement was short-sighted.

With her debt paid off, and my frustration of her bad password management relieved, I felt a sense of grief. Little by little, I keep slowly removing all the things that show that she existed. It is like wiping someone away clean, which in perspective is both sad to think about emotionally and philosophically. Debt is bad, but when the problem exists, it feels like that person is still around, and they still have unfinished business to take care of. Realistically, they can’t address those issues, or any issues ever again. I know that a person is kept alive through memories, but it is the little things that matter just as much to me.

I have my fair share of bad decisions when money is involved. I went, and failed, college twice due to immaturity and lack of patience. I’ve had to break a lease with an apartment twice due to extenuating circumstance and have lost multiple jobs due to poor people skills. In that time I have incurred my own looming debt I have slowly been paying off as I have the money to. I want to say that my life is back on track and I am far more responsible than I once was, but that isn’t necessarily true. Sure I am far more frugal about how I spend my money, but when I do spend my money on things I don’t need, they are usually things I legitimately don’t need.

Growing up I was always told that don’t buy something unless you have the money for it. The advice itself is great, especially for a child, but as time goes by, it starts to need some extra addendums. Just because I have the money for something, doesn’t mean I will not need the money for something important later, or that saving money could allow me to buy something even better much later in the future. Little addendums here and there that while don’t apply to a child, can really sent in stone some notions for an adult. When paying off my mother’s debt I really took to heart how scary it can be to play with magic money. Just because you have the money to do something, fake or real, doesn’t always mean it should be used because you’ve got it.

Money isn’t always that easy to come by, at least as fast as you can spend it. I currently have a job that pays roughly fifteen thousand a year, my mother at the time was making at least two times that. For her to have nine thousands dollars in debt, means that making more money doesn’t always mean you can be more lax with how you spend, because no matter what, you will always find a way to spend more than you have to. Losing a loved one can be scary, but so can living your entire life trying to pay off financial mistakes you regret.

I currently live in my mothers house, something I inherited after her passing. I had been living there for a while before her death, and the hardest thing in my day to day life is waking up in it. Everyday is a constant reminder that she will never sit in her recliner again, or walk through the doors from work. I can’t walk into the living room and tease her about watching crappy television or lazily relaxing with the family dog on her lap. It is an insufferable struggle.

I currently sleep in her old bedroom, and it is still in the same layout it was when she was alive, partly because I am too lazy to move furniture, but partly because it feels comfortable. I want to keep it the same in case she comes back home, and that mindset kills me inside. I know she will never sleep in her bed again, sit at her computer desk and reply to emails or ask me to help her set the bedsheets. Most nights I lay there, staring at the room and telling myself that tomorrow I will move the room around. I never follow through with it.

I always grab a piece of furniture, and tense up. It feels wrong to move it, to change a room that isn’t mine. Is there an acceptable time before it goes from a coping mechanism to just plain creepy? I’d argue there is, and that time is coming soon. Upon my sisters request, I tried to keep most of the house exactly as it used to be for almost a month, but it was unbearable. I couldn’t keep walking into my own home and feel a sense of dread as I saw the spot she used to sit at vacant, the quiet hum of electronics running in an empty home. Everything changes, but not always immediately.

I find myself sometimes wondering what retorts she would have to the state of my home, would she complain about it not being clean enough? Would she yell at me for waiting until two in the morning to take down the trash cans? Would she dislike how I rearranged the living room? While the answers are always just figments of my imagination, they are sometimes subtle reliefs from the constant stress I feel. There is this tinge of expectation I feel to keep things in order, the house still welcoming, the floor-plan still easy to navigate and the bedrooms relatively untouched. Over time those expectations will fade, and I will re-organize the home to exactly how I want it, but I feel that a similar appearance in nature brings comfort to those who visit.

There are days when I feel beyond lonely, even though I am surrounded by friends. It is a feeling that usually occurs when I think about how at the end of the night, everyone will be gone, and I will be left alone, with just the family dog, to lay in bed and eagerly await when my body loses consciousness. In the beginning, I assumed that the lonely feeling could be cured by having someone else to focus my needs for affection on, a significant other. For those who know me, this is a rather humorous statement. I have currently been single for roughly two or so years of my life, after a string of terrible relationship after terrible relationship. Most of them failed due to circumstances out of my control, others failed due to poor compatibility. Realistically, I am just not suited for romance. While I am generally the most doting and romantic person you will meet, I am also the most selfish and stubborn.

I don’t really agree with the notion that relationships are about compromise. I like doing the things I do, and doing them when I want do. I don’t want to sacrifice my happiness to make someone else happy, it just isn’t a fair trade in my opinion. Thus I am left with a conundrum, sacrifice my happiness to cure my crippling loneness. I rationalized it at first, maybe I really didn’t need to do the things I loved in the amount I did them in, so I slightly placed my feet in the dating pool and found a slight problem. Apparently, I am either the most boring person on paper, or the worst looking person in pictures. After countless attempts at trying to contact people I was interested in, and getting no response, I tried leaving it up to women to contact me. Spoiler alert, I am still single. Not a single offer for a date, not a single option to get to know someone beyond ‘hello’. I somehow walked into a situation with loneness and walked away with loneness and depression.

I immediately gave up on the idea of romance afterwards. If I can’t cure loneness with love, then I will just find another way. I bought video games. Sure, you could say that escapism isn’t healthy, or that my social awkwardness is due in part to my overwhelming consumption of them, but here is the truth; they made me happy. When I played games, I was able to focus my frustration, fears, loneness and sadness and ease them in the limitless virtual world. For all the negative feelings people have towards gamers, the one thing that always upset me was the assumption that video games ruin lives.

Anything can ruin a life; debt, illness, insecurities, depression, and loss; to name a few. Just because something has the potential to ruin a life, doesn’t mean it is inherently bad. Video games have always been there for me, since childhood I can fondly remember them being there. They were a way to cope with the world, regardless of how bad it got. They reminded me that there will always be parts in life that seem so hard to deal with, but in a few years later, are embarrassing to admit were a struggle. Haven’t you ever played a game where you were so lost or weak, that no matter what you did, progression was never happening? Most of the time, people just give up, saying the game is too hard and walked away. Others however, took a step back, focused on learning why they can’t progress and found a new solution to the problem. This, is a very rare, but very useful parallel that games and the real life have in common.

You can’t just start a game and win a fight with the final boss, you have to learn how to play, acquire some skills, maybe level up a few times. Once you are sufficiently ready, you can take a swing and see how you fare. If you lose, it is alright, you go back to training and try again later. For me, I was stuck in a position where no matter how many times I tried to deal with the loss, I would always fall back into a pit of depression and loneness. I decided that while moving on is the best thing to do, maybe I am not actually ready to do it. Maybe I still want to wallow in misery, or get mad about the powerlessness I felt trying to fix her ailment. Sure they may not be healthy emotions to focus on, but it is equally as unhealthy to force yourself to move past something you aren’t quite ready to.

So I spend my time playing games, conquering my problems by reminding myself that no matter what, I will always have a place I can go to. A place that makes me feel good; taking away my focus from stressful issues or terrifying realities. We all have something we do that makes us happy, and in such a crucial time as loss, those are the things that will keep your head up. Also, video games are a great way to pass the time, and anyone who says otherwise is just jealous they are terrible at playing them.

If there is one thing about my personality that I dislike, it would have to be my anger. I am what you call, eternally perturbed. After living over thirteen years with an anxiety disorder that perpetually diminishes your quality of life, sometimes having a good attitude is harder than coping with loss. My mother was quite aware of my anger issues, and generally knew how to calm me down when I was reaching my limit. Since her passing, I’ve noticed that getting mad comes even easier for me than ever before.

While replacing a wall outlet in my home; which I have done countless times in my life, I was electrocuted due to the previous homeowner (before my mother) failing to understand how to properly ground an outlet. I went from my default bothered to enraged in a split second, and began to furiously punch the wall until it started to hurt. Once I decided I had to turn off the circuit breaker, I proceeded to walk outside, continuing to punch everything in sight. Upon arriving at the circuit breaker, I then started to punch it as well, until finally I turn off the power and replaced the outlet.

Normally, the moment I punched the wall once, my mother would have instantly calmed me down. Without her patient understanding and calming voice, I was able to vent my frustration in a less than ideal way. This is not to say that I can’t be a rational adult and learn to control my anger, but when you have someone who is always there to calm you down, you start to rely on it.

One of my bigger problems with anger is that most of it is repressed. I tend to get mad at situations and only yell in frustration, angry is something I just don’t tend to emote. While I am basically speaking of semantics, given that frustration and anger go hand in hand, the context is quite important. When I am frustrated, I usually yell, maybe punch something unbreakable once and move on. With anger, it is like a fire that never stops, I continually punch anything I feel like, yell until I lose my voice, become overly sensitive to anything said and so on.

So yea, I probably sound like I have a real issue on my hands, but here is the kicker; I rarely get angry. I have a fairly high threshold when it comes to losing control. I get frustrated a lot, in fact, you could almost say it is my default mood, but it is very unlikely I can be pushed towards anger. I’ve had my fair share of slipups here and there, but like most ventable emotions, it happens in private. Lately though, I have started to feel my patience level drop. Things that once made me yell and move on, now put me close to losing my mind.

I could probably equate it simply to the result of loss, but that isn’t quite accurate. I feel that above all else, the biggest factor in losing my mother was also losing the desire to tolerate. With my mother around, I wanted to make her proud of how she raised me, be a person who embodied the very ideals and teachings she instilled in me. Without her, I don’t feel like there is a need to do so anymore. If something happens and it makes me mad, I will act accordingly. I no longer have the time, or the patience to tolerate people or situations that bother me.

This isn’t to say I am reacting the way I want to. In my life, having a ‘bad attitude’ is less of feeling and more of a personality trait. I don’t go out of my way to feel frustrated, and I certainly don’t enjoy the feeling. I have worked on many different ways to deal with stress and annoyances; laughing it off, feigning ignorance, just to name a few. While doing so tends to stop myself from reaching the edge, it certainly doesn’t make the feeling go away. Defaulting to frustration tends to spoil what little fun there is to have in life, and overall creates tension where there shouldn’t be. People shouldn’t need to wonder if something they say or something they do will cause me to erupt into yelling, and at the same time, I don’t enjoy reacting that way either.

I hope in the coming years I learn to stop defaulting to frustration, and I hope that the things that bother me most are not longer in my life. I just need to learn a balance between what should reasonably make me frustrated and what should barely make me agitated. Until that point, it is safe to say, I have a fairly long road ahead of me, and my volatile emotions are just another roadblock I have to overcome.

At some point up until now, I have mentioned I suffer from anxiety problems. You will also hear me reference it more later, but today, I am going to finally sit down and write it all out. My anxiety is something that has mostly been explained through various questions and statements, but never in one complete sitting. While there is a lot to talk about regarding it, there is also a fair amount of mystery as to what it exactly entails.

When it comes to things I don’t like to discuss, my anxiety is probably up there in my top three (next to romance and personal opinions). Thinking about it, talking about it and most importantly, living it, are the hardest parts of my anxiety. I have endured it for over thirteen years, with this year, making it a problem I have struggled with for over half of my life. It is a problem I both hate and regret, because ultimately, it is a problem I gave myself, regardless of how consciously powerless I was in its creation.

I have emetophobia, which is the fear of vomiting. At first glance though, it doesn’t sound all that bad. I just have to avoid the things that normally make one vomit, like alcohol, drugs and tainted food. While true, it is not quite as simple as you might believe. Regardless of what bulimics might tell you, vomiting is not something you have complete control over. Sure you can force yourself to throw up, but that isn’t what I am afraid of. I am afraid of vomiting when I don’t want to, at times when my body is doing it as a natural response to removing poisonous substances from its system.

Because of this, the hardest thing I struggle with is eating. From the moment I start chewing my food, a billion questions begin to flood my mind, each one slowly making the food taste worse and worse, until I am so sick to my stomach I’d rather die than take another bite.

“Who made this?”
“Could this make me sick?”
“When was the last time I ate?”
“When does [pieces of food] expire?”
“How much can I eat until I am full?”
“What if this food is bad? Will I get sick?”
“How can I tell if this food is bad?”
“How long will it takes to digest this before I know if it will make me vomit?”
“Does this type of food feel bad to vomit?”
“Could getting sick from this food kill me?”
“Where will I go if I have to throw up?”
“What will the people around me think?”
“Do I have to go anywhere after eating this?”
“Will someone get offended if I don’t finish my plate?”

You get the basic idea, if every bite comes with all these questions, it makes it tough to actually want to eat anything. It is made especially difficult by the fact of eating being an important part of what keeps the human body functioning. If you starve yourself enough, you will eventually die. Since I have no desire to kill myself, especially through starving, while constantly surrounded by plenty of food that I just stupidly refuse to eat, I find minor ways to deal with eating.

The big problem, is that the feeling of nausea usually triggers my panic attacks. The constant anxiety of wondering what will trigger me to vomit also causes me to feel nauseated, thus creating a neverending cycle. I never have a single waking moment of being anxiety free, which over time has slowly worn me down, both physically and emotionally. Always afraid of a body’s natural defense against internal harm, while over-thinking everything from food to others around me, can certainly do that to a person. Describing the hellish day to day cycle I live is hard, but living it is harder.

So woe is me, I have this big bad anxiety issue. I am certainly not unique in that, plenty of people have crippling fears or anxiety that prevent them from doing the most basic of things. They all feel as if they are living through hell, they all understand that it is a misunderstanding concocted by their amygdala, tricking itself into thinking something is more life-threatening than it actually is. The difference, at least for me, is that mine is slowly killing me. With most anxiety or phobias, the fear is usually concentrated around a particular situation or object that most can either avoid or have someone else help them through. Being anxious while driving alone, or being terrified of spiders; these are things that with the help or support of others, you can manage to live a fairly normal life with. For myself, everyone, myself included, are considered a threat.

When I say I am afraid of vomiting, it is not just solely me. I am the type of person that will vomit myself if I am around someone else who vomits. This puts me in a situation where going outside, and being around others, causes me to become anxious. Regardless of who they are, or the trust I have in them, if they vomit, it could cause me to vomit myself. If they see me vomit, I would feel incredibly embarrassed and ashamed. So I do my best to avoid those situations, by avoiding most people as much as possible. My anxiety inherently causes me to isolate myself from the rest of the world. Others try to comfort me in saying there is no shame in vomiting, or that they could promise to make food that will not give me food poisoning, I can’t bring myself to honestly trust them.

So I am left in a rather unfortunate disposition; eating could kill me and people could inadvertently kill me. Starving myself will also kill me, and isolating myself causes issues in trying to get a job or going out with friends/family. I try my best to overcome these problems, I invite friends over often, and on rare occasions go out with them somewhere. I try to eat at least something everyday, regardless of how filling or healthy it is for me. Pushing myself has its limits though, sometimes I push too far and end up having a panic attack; which is equal to taking a huge leap backwards. Overall, my life has been a constant fight against myself, where the outcome cannot be determined by logic or strength, but by attrition.

Over time I have learned ways to trick myself into eating, completely ignoring food being one of them. Most people haven’t experience starvation in their lives, by which I mean not just missing a meal or two, but not eating for multiple days. It hurts, both physically and mentally, as your body begins to grasp at whatever it can just to keep itself going. Eventually, you get put into a dire situation, either eat something, or die. Since assured death is a natural fight or flight instinct, and fighting is the option any sane person picks, it tends to override the same fight or flight instinct I get from my emetophobia. However, this isn’t a beneficial long-term strategy. There is no healthy way to deny yourself food for multiple days without suffering some recourse for your actions. For me, the punishment was becoming a skeleton.

Most who have actually seen me know what I mean. I appear to be nothing more than skin and bones, minus my face, which seems to retain what little weight I have. This bothersome since I have a natural square build; broad shoulders, longer arms and legs, which makes my lacking weight all the more noticeable. If I had a nickle for every time someone told me “You’re so thin, you need to eat more” I would be able to buy a country and still have enough left over to live comfortably. Although it is unlikely they are saying it maliciously, I find it hard not becoming agitated when I hear it. So let me answer some of these basic questions:

Yes, I am highly aware of my lacking weight
Yes, I wish I could eat more like a normal person
Yes, I do try my best to keep myself fed
No, my parents aren’t starving me
No, I am not too poor to buy food
No, I am not trying to hurt myself
No, I am not; bulimic, Anorexic, addicted to drugs, or suffering from a disease.

Questions like these have been almost common for me over the past decade, with each new person I meet asking at least one of them. Though, if I had to choose one, my favorite wouldn’t be any of the questions, but rather a statement. I wish I was as thin as you. You wish? Why? You, just like everyone else, have the ability to look just like me. No folks, this isn’t some sorta lose weight fast scheme, it’s actually quite worst! Starving yourself!

Yes, for the low price of literally nothing, you can spend less time eating, and more time doing anything else in the world. Feel hungry? Drink some water! Still hungry? Have a cigarette. Continue this cycle, and only give yourself around four-hundred calories every two days, and in two years you will be thin, guarantee! If you’re even more lucky, you will cause irreversible harm to your body, and even die. So next time you think you can’t be as thin as me, just remember, you’re being completely insensitive in saying that, and you should be grateful you can even stuff yourself enough to gain weight. I am not some side-show freak or a weight loss genius, I am a mentally ill individual who suffers everyday, and you think casually wishing you had one of the side-effects would be great?

When I talked about my default emotion being frustrated, this is why. After spending so much time with this emotionally draining mental strain, hearing the surplus of off-hand comments and questions, along with the unintentional body shaming, bitter doesn’t even begin to describe me. I hate this phobia from the very core of my being. It came into my life without asking, caused me suffering and misery, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t even make sense! Want to know something amazing? In the thirteen years I have had this phobia, i’ve only vomited three times. Three! How many people with arachnophobia or agoraphobia or whatever phobia you have can say that in their entire life with the fear, only three times have they ever confronted it? Probably not that many, unless you are living in a bubble. The worst part is, after those three times, I was never cured of my phobia! I did the very thing I was afraid of, proving that there was nothing to fear in the first place, and somehow I am still dealing with the problem? What is even the point then? How can you legitimately say you are deathly afraid of something and then continue that mindset after being proven there was nothing to be deathly afraid of in the first place?

I hate this phobia, it has done nothing for me and taken so much. I have tried multiple times to look at it from a more positive spin, and the only thing it ever did was help strengthen my relationship with my mother. Mostly due to the fact that she was the only one who believed me about it at first. So thanks phobia, thanks anxiety, without you I might have loved my mother just a tad bit less if it weren’t for you. What a lifesaver, the thing that is slowly killing me.

I will probably continue this topic at a later time, discussing it was more for the sake of explaining my situation in a composed and well-thought manner. It is an unfortunate situation, one that I have twice in my life vowed to fix before the passing of someone. It is clear to me I might never overcome the twisted idiocracy I call a phobia. I hope that this clears some things up for those who might have wondered what it is that I deal with on a daily basis, and while there is plenty more to explain, for now, this will suffice.

(Bonus Points: Using the word Vomit is actually difficult for me, which is normal for those who suffer the same phobia. I specifically chose to use the word rather than ‘getting sick’ because it is common practice in trying to desensitize yourself to something you might fear. Just wanted to throw that out there.)

Regardless of if you are someone who works eighty hours a week or live as a stay at home mom, everyone needs a hobby. Having one, gives you the chance to wind down from stress or find brief stints of happiness when you’re feeling down. They are passions you don’t do for a living, but spend enough time with, you might almost consider it.

I have a handful of hobbies, almost borderline problematic. While hobbies are known for being somewhat expensive, I have managed to find resourceful ways to keep them budgeted. My two main hobbies are video games and drawing. You can probably argue that gaming is less a hobby and more of a form of entertainment, but I pride myself on being rather good at it. I spend roughly twenty-five or more hours per week playing games and roughly five to ten drawing.

I have been playing games since I was a child, roughly around four or five. My first console was a Sega GameGear followed by a Sega Master System that my father once owned. From then on video games have been a big hobby of mine, causing me to go so far as working part time for a family members coffee shop at the age of ten just to afford it. I was passionate about playing them, increasing my skills and enjoying the opportunity to share my hobby with others. I was fortunate to have a mother who understood this passion, and while she did encourage me to go outside often, she never told me playing games was a waste of my time.

Looking back, most of my fondest memories are ones that involve me playing games. On the opposite side of the coin, drawing was also given the same treatment growing up. I first started drawing when I was forced to accompany my mother to work when she wasn’t able to get a babysitter. One day, she handed me some paper and pens, told me to draw her something, and from there I was captivated by the ability to bring to life the things I imagined in my mind. Like all children, I was terrible at drawing, and learned a lot through mimicking art styles I liked or tracing complicated things like chairs or houses. I eventually picked up a handy skill; the ability to copy others art style. As I continued to hone my craft when I felt bored or creative, and with the support of my family, I eventually found myself somewhat confident in my hobby. I would draw things for people, make up silly comics or spend hours just doodling whatever came to mind.

It slowly became a form of relaxation, a way to escape the troubles I had by drawing myself into worlds I wish were real. It is still something I do today, and something I still find to be just as relaxing and enjoyable. Though these are just two of the many I have, they are the ones that mainly shaped me into who I am today. The biggest factor being the support I was given early on by my mother (and other family members), which took what could have been a way to pass the time into a hobby that I constantly work towards improving in. I am thankful that I have multiple facets to which I can relieve my stress or boredom without having to question if I am just simply wasting my time.

Since my mother’s passing, I have found myself indulging in my hobbies far more often than I used to. One of the more recent ones I have started is gardening. I wanted to make some of the empty land in the backyard a little more green, so with the help of my sisters friend, we built planter boxes. While it was during the time my mother was going through the last few weeks of her life, I was thankful she was able to see them before she passed. She really liked how they looked, and said that she was interested in trying the fruits and vegetables that I would eventually grow in them. As of now, my garden is only half complete, with one planter box half full, and another still devoid of planting soil. I am hoping once the summer ends I can plant some winter crops, maybe even learn how to add a protective layer to the boxes if the weather gets harsh. There are so many things I want to do with gardening, but most importantly, I want to share the rewards of my hard work with those I care about.

While I have many hobbies from my past, I try to never go back and do the particular things that I fondly remember. I don’t just go back and play my Nintendo 64 to relive my childhood, and I don’t draw terribly for some nostalgic feeling of youth. I have my hobbies because they were nurtured by someone who understood me and my level of enjoyment gained from them. Hobbies can be useful in taking your mind off the things you want to avoid, but they can also encourage you to move forward and better yourself. To carry on the encouragement given to you by those no longer here, and the drive to do something that you have a solid connection with. While working on my garden does remind me of the one I started it for, that doesn’t mean I should prevent myself from doing it if there is the chance it will become something I enjoy.

Regardless of if you are someone who works eighty hours a week or live as a stay at home mom, everyone needs a hobby. Having one, gives you the chance to wind down from stress or find brief stints of happiness when you’re feeling down. They are passions you don’t do for a living, but spend enough time with, you might almost consider it.

I have a handful of hobbies, almost borderline problematic. While hobbies are known for being somewhat expensive, I have managed to find resourceful ways to keep them budgeted. My two main hobbies are video games and drawing. You can probably argue that gaming is less a hobby and more of a form of entertainment, but I pride myself on being rather good at it. I spend roughly twenty-five or more hours per week playing games and roughly five to ten drawing.

I have been playing games since I was a child, roughly around four or five. My first console was a Sega GameGear followed by a Sega Master System that my father once owned. From then on video games have been a big hobby of mine, causing me to go so far as working part time for a family members coffee shop at the age of ten just to afford it. I was passionate about playing them, increasing my skills and enjoying the opportunity to share my hobby with others. I was fortunate to have a mother who understood this passion, and while she did encourage me to go outside often, she never told me playing games was a waste of my time.

Looking back, most of my fondest memories are ones that involve me playing games. On the opposite side of the coin, drawing was also given the same treatment growing up. I first started drawing when I was forced to accompany my mother to work when she wasn’t able to get a babysitter. One day, she handed me some paper and pens, told me to draw her something, and from there I was captivated by the ability to bring to life the things I imagined in my mind. Like all children, I was terrible at drawing, and learned a lot through mimicking art styles I liked or tracing complicated things like chairs or houses. I eventually picked up a handy skill; the ability to copy others art style. As I continued to hone my craft when I felt bored or creative, and with the support of my family, I eventually found myself somewhat confident in my hobby. I would draw things for people, make up silly comics or spend hours just doodling whatever came to mind.

It slowly became a form of relaxation, a way to escape the troubles I had by drawing myself into worlds I wish were real. It is still something I do today, and something I still find to be just as relaxing and enjoyable. Though these are just two of the many I have, they are the ones that mainly shaped me into who I am today. The biggest factor being the support I was given early on by my mother (and other family members), which took what could have been a way to pass the time into a hobby that I constantly work towards improving in. I am thankful that I have multiple facets to which I can relieve my stress or boredom without having to question if I am just simply wasting my time.

Since my mother’s passing, I have found myself indulging in my hobbies far more often than I used to. One of the more recent ones I have started is gardening. I wanted to make some of the empty land in the backyard a little more green, so with the help of my sisters friend, we built planter boxes. While it was during the time my mother was going through the last few weeks of her life, I was thankful she was able to see them before she passed. She really liked how they looked, and said that she was interested in trying the fruits and vegetables that I would eventually grow in them. As of now, my garden is only half complete, with one planter box half full, and another still devoid of planting soil. I am hoping once the summer ends I can plant some winter crops, maybe even learn how to add a protective layer to the boxes if the weather gets harsh. There are so many things I want to do with gardening, but most importantly, I want to share the rewards of my hard work with those I care about.

While I have many hobbies from my past, I try to never go back and do the particular things that I fondly remember. I don’t just go back and play my Nintendo 64 to relive my childhood, and I don’t draw terribly for some nostalgic feeling of youth. I have my hobbies because they were nurtured by someone who understood me and my level of enjoyment gained from them. Hobbies can be useful in taking your mind off the things you want to avoid, but they can also encourage you to move forward and better yourself. To carry on the encouragement given to you by those no longer here, and the driv

While I tend to live an isolationist lifestyle, it wasn’t always this way. Growing up, I managed to make a handful of lifelong friends through random childlike means. I still talk to almost all of them, and the ones I don’t, are generally because they are harder to get in contact with. Regardless, I have friends, and that I learned, is an important factor in coping with loss.

While making these new friends, the big factor in what made those friendships so strong, was because of my mother’s welcoming personality. She allowed me to constantly have friends over, or spend plenty of time with friends elsewhere. Especially after I mysteriously acquired my anxiety, when having friends over was my only option. In turn, most of my friends came to view my mother as an unofficial surrogate parent. They all respected her rules, joked around with her and as we got older, still managed to keep that same level of respect and closeness from childhood.

During the years I spent in my childhood home, I made three very close friends. We would later call ourselves ‘The Breeze Crew’, named after the court we lived on. The four of us would spend our days recording silly videos, performing life-threatening stunts and playing video games. Surprisingly, as we all went through our high school years, even though we all had a new group of friends, we never stopped talking or hanging out.

If there was one thing I feel bad about, it is that before my mother passed, I didn’t have the chance to let my closest friends bid their farewells. A lot of it was due to obviously having no control over the time or day she would pass, but also because I kept her condition fairly secret. It wasn’t that I was ashamed, but more that I didn’t want to admit things were getting bad. I would hang out with friends, casually check up on her and come back, carrying on like nothing was wrong. Some of my friends noticed that over time I started to become more anxious, checking on her fairly often and each time coming back looking worried, but they respectfully didn’t pry. Eventually after she passed, the first thing I did once the adrenaline rush wore off, was contact ‘The Breeze Crew’ and let them know.

At first I was reserved, knowing my mother, she would prefer that no one’s day be hampered because of her passing, and at the time I knew that two of my friends were at work. I spent a few moments thinking it over, and eventually decided it was something that regardless of them working or not, they would want to know. So I added them all to a group message and sent them this:

Hey guys, I wanted to let you all know that my mother passed away today. She loved you guys like her sons, and she was thankful that all of you guys were there for me growing up, even if some of you, mostly M, got me into trouble. I’m glad I met you guys and I’m glad that you all consider me a friend, even though I wasn’t always the most optimistic or tolerable guy to deal with. You guys are brothers to me, and no matter what, you guys know I’ll help you anyway I can. I apologize if this seems weird, I just felt like saying something that might help me cope with it all. Thanks.

Oddly enough, when you experience loss, there is this part of you that wants to just express yourself in anyway, to anyone you can. It is an feeling of worry, like there are things you have left unsaid that you should take the time to say, regardless of if the timing is right or not. For me, it helped; I got something off my chest and felt better for it. If there is ever a person to do that with, make it is a friend, they are usually the ones you can comfortably express yourself to most.

After they received the message, my friends all gave me their regards and told me they were coming to visit once they were off work. I was grateful to hear this, as being in the company of friends would be a far better option that the company of just myself. That night, we hung out until the wee hours of the morning; drinking, telling stories and sometimes crying. It was a tough loss, for not just myself, but also for them. On the next day, more of my friends stopped by, and as I told them the news, all of them showed their support and ensured I didn’t fall into a state of severe depression. It was a big factor in what helped me cope with such a dramatic change in my life, and to this day, most of them still find time to stop by randomly during the week to hang out and check up on me.

Not everyone is as fortunate as myself to have a handful of great friends, hell, most people are lucky to have one or two real friends they can truly rely on. No matter if you only have one or two, twelve or thirty, when experiencing a loss, look towards them to cheer you up. Don’t try and keep it all to yourself or deal with it alone. Talking about it will go a long way, and expressing yourself about it will go even further. Thank you to those who stood with me during this tough time, and especially those who showed their support. Even those who sent me kind words, it helped more than you might have intended it to. I really am fortunate to have you all, and thankful you do all consider me a friend.

e to do something that you have a solid connection with. While working on my garden does remind me of the one I started it for, that doesn’t mean I should prevent myself from doing it if there is the chance it will become something I enjoy.

Statistically, most people have a sibling of some kind, either a full blood, half, or both. Due to my fathers desire to breed a small gang, I have six siblings. Only one of them is full blood, while the rest are all half. At the present time, I only communicate with two of them due to various circumstances, but I also don’t mind this fact either. I am content with the amount of siblings I do communicate with, and quite frankly, I fear that talking with ones I have almost no connection with would result in wasted time.

That said, when my mother passed, my full blood sister was living a few towns over. My grandparents called her when my mother was showing the signs of passing and she tried her best to get down here from her job, almost an hour away, to say goodbye. She didn’t make it. I felt terrible upon seeing her, standing there in the doorway, frantically praying she made it in time to say goodbye. Upon hearing the news that she was too late, she began to sob relentlessly. Although she was crying along with everyone else, she was crying for a different reason than they were. She cried because she wasn’t there.

The night before, we had talked and I reassured her that our mother would pull through the week and possibly pass the following weekend. I told her it was fine to go home, and go to work the next day. In retrospect, I was the one that put her in a position to be unable to make it back before our mother passed. Obviously it was not done maliciously, and when I told her she would make it through the week, it was because I desperately hoped she would. Never the less, in the back of my mind, I always think about how awful it must feel to not get a chance to say goodbye, and how mad I am at myself for denying her that opportunity, simply because I spouted off idealistic nonsense to blind myself to the truth I’d rather not admit.

I have never discussed the situation with her before, and she hasn’t vocalized her feelings on the matter elsewhere, but I know that it hurts her. I know that regardless of how awful and painful it was to watch, she still wanted to be there, by her side, assuring her everything would be okay. It is truly unfair that of all the things to miss out on, the passing of your parent is one of them. Personally, I would be furious, depressed and empty. I would clutch my chest at the thought of the words I wanted to say before she passed, the things she might have said to me, or the sight of seeing her alive one last time.

I am truly sorry to have inadvertently denied her of that chance. And while I know she might not hold resentment towards me for it, I will always hold resentment towards myself for not being overly cautious. Regardless, after all was said and done, crying was out of the way, my sister asked to see our mother before the funeral home took her body away. Our HOSPICE nurse at the time was overly gracious enough to position her body in a way that made it look like she was merely sleeping. In some disgusting way, it looked beautiful yet also uncanny. Knowing she wasn’t breathing, yet lay there without a single hint of pain made my stomach turn.

As for my sister, she stood there for a moment; and while I had left the room shortly after walking in with her, I assume she spent the time saying her goodbyes, regardless of our mothers’ current state of life. I sat quietly in my mothers’ old chair, and waited for her to come back out. She came back with tears in her eyes and hugged everyone, myself included. Though I never stop asking myself “Was that enough?” Without further prodding, I might never know the answer to that question.

A few hours after everything calmed down, my half sister came over to show her support. While my mother wasn’t related by blood, she still felt upset about her passing. She had spent a few good years growing up around my mother every other weekend, and though I never knew until much later, my mother treated her like her own child. Although she is my half sister, I don’t treat her much different than I do my own sister. Granted she is older than I am, and I don’t recall any memories of growing up with her before I met her for what I believed was the first time, so there a slight difference in sibling bonds are understandable. Regardless, I was really glad she took the time to come down and see us all, making sure we were okay and joining into what our family has now adopted as ‘Complaining About Cancer’ conversations.

She mostly spent time with my grandfather, who at the time was practically wrapped in denial about the whole thing, understandably. After a few hours, she left, giving us all hugs and reassuring us if we needed anything to contact her, and that we’d see her at the funeral. If you have one or multiple siblings, it is important to remember that at the end of it all, they are the ones that will be your main link to the past and the most reliable friendships you will have. As much as my full blood sister and I have our spats, and my half sister and I talk sporadically, we will always be there for each other if needed. It is both an important lesson my mother preached and led by example through her own relationship with her sister.

It is of no surprise to those who have read up to this point, but I have severe depression. If I took the time to get diagnosed, I am confident it would be considered clinical. After experiencing years of suffering from an anxiety, a myriad of crappy childhood problems and now the loss of my mother, being pleasantly joyful is hard to feel.

After my parents divorced around the age of five, I had my first experience with depression. While being such a young age, depression usually encompassed things like, not being able to play with a toy you like, having to eat vegetables or in my case, your father suddenly vanishing for a few years of your life. Granted I don’t recall a great deal of my memories from so long ago, but I do remember the feeling of when he first came back into my life at the age of seven. I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I hadn’t seen this person in almost two years, and by that time my memory was a bit hazy on who he even was, on the other hand, he brought me gifts and took me to somewhere new every other weekend to hang out with him. I learned to accept the idea, and eventually it started to become a routine.

While I explained I am a pretty patient person, my best trait is ignorance. Weekend visits with my father were a constant test of that ignorance, and one that slowly started to weigh on me as time went by. I experienced the usual separated parent spiel like “Your [other parent] is a terrible person, and you’d be much happier if you lived with me” and “Sorry we can’t go to [random outing], if you lived with me I’d have more money for us to go there more often.” Which over time you learn to just tune out on the long drive to and from your home(s). However, in my fathers’ case, there was always a big difference between ignoring factually incorrect slander and ignoring straight bullying.

My father was great at starting relationships, but terrible at making them last. This resulted in me never sure where my father was going to bring me every weekend, which depended on if he was dating someone or not. Most of the time he was dating someone, I was always treated as a bothersome parasite by his girlfriends. Most, if not all of them, treated me poorly and tried their best to ostracize me from their perfect relationship. Generally I was either forced to play outside alone while my father worked, or I was left behind when the two of them went somewhere, again alone. This is why video games became so important in my life; they were always there for me. I can remember sitting in the room with my father and one of his girlfriends as they talked about going out to dinner with her children. When my name was mentioned, she looked over and said they would just bring me something back, and that I could stay home and watch the house.

It wasn’t fun; taking time out of a weekend I could have spent with friends back home, and instead coming to visit my father only to ultimately get ignored. I coped by playing video games, drawing pictures and writing stories. I found ways to travel to worlds that weren’t my own, so I could find some reprieve from the disappointment I felt being ignored by my own father. This is where my first memory of depression started.

In time I removed myself from the situation, and in turn cut all ties with the man who I can hardly remember anything about regardless of all the years I had spent “visiting” him. By this point, I already had my anxiety, and the cycle of depression continued onward. Sometime later that year, I started to sink even further, feeling as though life was worthless and living in constant suffering wasn’t worth the minute gems of enjoyment I experienced. I decided to kill myself during a day when I was home alone, to an extent. At the time, my mother worked during the day and my stepfather worked at night, though because of this, he would sleep until a few hours before work. This meant that between six in the morning till four in the afternoon I was without parental supervision, or intervention. I was sixteen at the time, and it was during summer break. I grabbed the sharpest knife we had in the kitchen, sat outside under our patio table and held the blade to my wrists.

I remember thinking about how disappointed my mother would be, how upset or sad she might feel and all the things I have yet to experience. I also thought about all the things my anxiety prevented me from doing, all the things I already missed out on and the painful life I will continue to endure with it. I felt myself tearing up as I began to slowly run the blade over my wrist, until I felt an odd sensation hit my cheek. I stopped and looked over, and there, sitting next to me while licking my tears was the family dog. Blissfully unaware of the current situation, he selfishly helped himself to the salty stream that encompassed my overwhelming depression, and eventual suicide.

I tried to push him away, but he gave me a look of discontent. I tried to explain myself to him, told him why I was doing what I was doing, and again tried to push him away. This time, he walked onto my lap and rested his head on my arm I had began cutting. He sat there comfortable, falling asleep in my lap as I continued crying. I put the knife down, pet his head and began talking to him. I sat there for hours, telling him my fears, my anger, my troubles and all the while, he lay there, saying nothing. I began to feel better, telling all these things to a creature that couldn’t judge me for my feelings, or reprimand me for my actions.

As stupid as it sounds now, my dog stopped me from killing myself, and made me feel better than any person ever had. In the years after, he was always next to me, sitting in the garage as I played games, or lying next to me as I slept. He was my best friend, my soundboard and the reason I am still here today. As worthless as it is, I promised him I would never try and kill myself again, no matter how bad things got. And even when we finally had to put him down, I stood there with him, calmly smiling as he closed his eyes for the last time, thanking him for all he did. I cried harder than I’d ever had that day, and after some years had passed, my mother got another dog. I took ownership of him after her passing, but before then, he acted the same way as my previous companion. He always hung out with me, took naps with me on occasion and listened to me complain. I can safely say that dogs are in every way superior to cats, and yes, I will fight you if try to disagree.

Finally, upon my mother’s passing, I found myself in a deep state of depression. Understandably, I no longer found the drive to push myself, or to desire to live. I lost my support, my crutch and my closest relative. I was left with a void, one that I didn’t ask for, and one that cannot be filled. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about her at least once. Regrettably, I also haven’t been attempting to move on either. I want to go back to those times, I want to hear her voice again, hug her, and ask her for advice. Knowing it isn’t possible tears me up, and gives me a feeling of loneliness and depression I’ve never felt before.

I do my best to keep up appearances. I always find a way to joke and laugh, mostly to cover the pain. I keep myself busy, trying to avoid dealing with reality. I sleep as often as I can, so I can avoid being awake longer than necessary. It is a brutal cycle, one that I have continued living with for well past tolerable levels. I hate struggling against my own emotions, trying to find energy to do the things I need to, amid the desire to do nothing at all. I will probably never know a life without depression, and I will certainly never know a life where my mother continued living. However, I try to continue moving forward, I try to tell myself it is worth getting up every day. Forcing myself to do the things I’d rather not and devoid myself the chance to breakdown and cry. Stability isn’t always a sign of coping or moving on. Sometimes it can be just a simple charade to cover up a crippling meltdown waiting to come out.

I am beginning to reach the peak of the Intimacy v Isolation development phase. Almost everyone I know is either married, getting married, or in a relationship of some sort. It is a tough time for someone who is struggling to figure out which side they will ultimately take in life. However, I feel as though I made the choice many years ago.

I have had nothing but bad luck when it comes to relationships. Most, if not all of them have ended on sour notes, and a majority of them are due in part to myself. I am a hopeless romantic; someone who will treat their partner right, loyal to a fault and not above things like cuddling and falling asleep on the phone together. That is, up until a certain point.

The biggest hardship I face with relationships is self-confidence. I lost what little of it I had after I got my anxiety, and since then I have been running on empty. It isn’t tough to lose confidence in yourself, especially when you know your own faults better than anyone else. While the same can be true for building your own confidence, I never manage to see my good side outweighing my bad.

I am selfish, quick to anger, appallingly thin, socially awkward, a habitual smoker, lazy and highly depressing. At some point, all of these traits begin to pile up on someone and ultimately causes them to make the rational choice in leaving. I don’t blame them necessarily, though the manner in which some left were less than ideal. Never the less, my weaknesses are far greater than my strengths, which can easily be overlooked. That list being; loyal, hardworking, occasionally funny, intelligent, creative and compassionate.

So the problem usually goes like this; I will take a significant other out someplace, struggling to not either succumb to a panic attack or complain about the boring nature of said date. I can usually pull this off rather well, though once returning home, it is quite likely I will ignore my partner for a random amount of time. Not out of spite, but mostly to make up for the time wasted doing something I didn’t enjoy. Surely this problem sounds easy to fix, do something I also want to do. Well, unless they truly have a killer personality, it is unlikely. I like to play video games, watch anime and hang out with friends, all at home. I don’t like playing games with people who are bad at them, I don’t enjoy watching anime with someone who isn’t passionate about it and I don’t want to hang out with friends that aren’t my own. This folks, is my first bad trait, selfishness.

The big question then is, why bother being in a relationship at all? Well, originally I had no plans to. Growing up, I practically ignored females. I was far more interested doing things that I enjoyed, rather than trying to impress someone I didn’t know for a chance to perform an act I felt was a waste of time. Of course as I began to get heavier into puberty I began feeling curious about it all. People I knew were getting into relationships, so maybe it wasn’t as simplistic as I made it out to be.

I started talking to girls; trying to figure out what ‘type’ I was interested in. I also tried to figure out what was considered attractive to me and exactly how you determine if you are in love. Incidentally, I quickly learned two important things; women generally have vastly different interests and impressing people is a bother. Granted this was middle school, so it wasn’t a surprise trying to find a cute nerdy girl was difficult. Even now it is one of the most elusive types out there, at least in my definition of cute. Anyway, I decided it was too much trouble and resumed ignoring females for my own hobbies.

Once I finally did find someone I was interested in, it pretty much all went downhill from there. Without taking too much time to explain every relationship in detail, I will break it up into a fairly easy list to understand:

1st – Cheated on her boyfriend with me

2nd – Cheated on me with someone else

3rd – Cheated on me with someone else

4th – Cheated on her boyfriend with me

5th – Left me without telling me why until weeks later

So you see my ongoing problem here, cheating is a constant occurrence. Granted the two that cheated on their boyfriends, I was highly aware of at the time. The ones that cheated on me, I was unaware of until they told me later. Ironically, the fifth was the only one I actually felt the emotion ‘love’ for. In some twisted way, it is better that the only one I loved, wasn’t one that involved cheating. In the end, I spent a total of several years on and off in relationships that ultimately was a waste of time and money. Through those relationships my biggest support was my mother.

Whenever I was broken up with, she was there to console me. If I needed to break up with someone, she always guided me on how to do it properly. Most of the times I needed any sort of relationship advice, she was always the one I went to, and the only one I trusted to give worthwhile advice. Though she never really liked any of my girlfriends, which is understandable, she was always supportive no matter what.

After my fifth relationship I inevitably called it quits. I packed up all the cares I had towards finding love or companionship and tossed it out the window. I admit that every now and again the small urge to find someone tingles at the back of my brain, but whenever I am faced with the opportunity to be in a relationship, I immediately run backwards. It might sound like I am afraid of commitment, but realistically I am afraid of wasting more time. After having those five relationships, I realized I walked away with nothing more than stories to tell and a feeling of disappointment.

Normally there would be some silver lining to this, one where I learn a valuable lesson and change my life for the better. Unfortunately there isn’t. To me, the concept of dating, marriage or anything in-between is a waste of time. I have no evolutionary desire to procreate, I prefer having a bed to myself, the feelings of others are far less of a concern to myself than my own and I have no intention of compromising anything for the luxury of companionship.

I have been single for over two years now, and my life has been no worse because of it. While having companionship might be the fuel that drives some, the calming quiet of isolationism is what keeps me going. I lived for over fifteen years of my life without a relationship and over twenty without sex. Neither of those times did I feel ashamed or depressed, and instead, were actually the fondest memories I have.

Feeling alone after the loss of my mother isn’t a problem that can be solved by a relationship, and it wouldn’t be right to be in one simply because of that either. I also have no desire to become like my father and sleep with countless women in a futile attempt to fulfill a feeling of emptiness by misguided attempts at companionship. I will continue to live my life as a bachelor, and while I may have idealistic fantasies of starting a family or finding love, I know it is not what I truly want in life.

I am a very opinionated person, but I am not an unreasonable one. I enjoy expressing my opinion and hearing the various ones that people have. Perspective brings a better understanding on topics you might not know the entire scope of due to your own limitations through tunnel vision. However, expressing opinions can quickly turn into debates if the conversation isn’t handled right, and there in lies my problem.

Whenever I had an opinion on things, I usually went to my mother to talk about them. I tend to try my best at finding as much information as possible, but sometimes the best way to look at something is from a clean perspective. My mother opted to ignore general world related issues. She never watched the news, never got into politics or read news that wasn’t related to local events. She was generally a clean slate, and that was perfect for me.

Whenever I talked to her about random on-goings in the world, I did so in an informative manner. I tried to explain the situation and ask for her take on it. I wasn’t asking for a resolution or even an acknowledgment that my views on the manner were correct. I wanted to see what conclusion she came to based on biased information. She usually struggled to keep interest long enough to utter more than a few sentences, but at times, she would give some decent opinions.

I’ve tried on multiple occasions to do the same thing with friends, but generally, it turns into a debate. Some of it in due to me being poor at communication while some in part due to a innate desire to debate. I dislike debating. It usually boils down to someone just accepting the other person’s point of view to end the conversation while changing nothing in the process. Both parties still walk away with the same viewpoints they came with, but one person tends to feel defeated.

I have learned that when a conversation about opinions becomes a debate, the best way to end it is taking the stance that is clearly radical and illogical. If you act like enough of an ignorant ass, people tend to just give up trying to talk with you. It isn’t fun in any manner, but the alternative is to tell said person to shut up and insult them for their idiotic desire to worthlessly debate with you. Ultimately I stopped giving honest opinions to people, and instead just instinctively became ignorant in order to end a conversation I had no interest in being apart of or around. It was my passive-aggressive way to end a bothersome conversation and start a more enjoyable one.

Since my mothers passing, I’ve started to miss the chance to express my opinion. I’ve tried here and there to talk about them with others, but again, they always turn into debates. On rare occasions I will get someone who just says the opposite viewpoint, and I can then nod my head, act like I agree and move on before things escalate. Yet I still miss the chance to hear a fresh perspective. The enjoyable feeling of informing someone and then hearing what they say based on it. I doubt I will find someone like that again, but it was nice having the chance to do so at one point in my life.

There is some credibility to my mother’s stance on ignoring the world around you. While it does keep you uninformed, it also brings you far less annoyance or stress. Not worrying about the state of the world, the country or even your state can be far more enjoyable than knowing everything. The world, in its entirety is a depressing pile of fear, hate, war and suffering. Wherever you look, people are dying or struggling to survive. No one seems to get along and everyone worries about the chances of things yet to happen. It is a morbid situation to know everything, but very true to the saying that ignorance is bliss.

I’ve started to care far less about the world’s on-goings. We haven’t created sentient artificial life, colonized a planet or unified Earth. In my eyes, until one of these things happens, the rest is just a circle jerk of history repeating itself. Crappy things happen, people make terrible fear based decisions; later generations scoff at the past’s bad choices, rinse and repeat. I’ve come to realize that when you break things down to the most simplistic of concepts, things become rather boring. Either the world keeps on going like normal, or humanity dies out. Those are the choices we have, and have always had, since we first started developing colonies and fighting amongst ourselves.

Opinions are fine to have, debating is worthless but harmless, but in the end, living a life with neither is just as acceptable. Instead of spending copious amounts of time reading and listening to the on-goings of the whole world, take a break and spend it caring more about the on-goings of you. You’ll find the calm, quiet sound of your own thoughts is more enjoyable than the pushy and depressing thoughts of others. If you don’t agree with this opinion, that is understandable, but don’t bother argue with me on it, because I really don’t care.

When faced with the loss of a family member, it isn’t unusual that the family bands together for a brief amount of time. While this isn’t a bad thing, it is also something I don’t necessarily care about. Having support from those you have familial ties to can bring comfort, but it can also become a problem if left unchecked.

My mother was a big proponent on being close to your family. To her, being apart of a family is what brings happiness. Her ideals were not at fault, growing up I was fortunate to have a family that was closely knit and were there for one another. She embodied the saying “blood is thicker than water” to a fault, and rarely felt a sense of annoyance when constantly dealing with those she was related to.

As I got older, I realized that while her ideals were respectable, I felt no similarity towards them. I don’t believe the idea that family is everything, especially when it hampers your own feelings. While I always tend to give priority to my family when it comes to most things, if it inhibits me from doing something I enjoy, I will graciously decline. Unlike my mother, taking care of others before myself is not a feeling I enjoy.

There were times that my mother argued with me on this. She would insist that she didn’t raise me to selfishly ignore my family, and she was right. What she didn’t understand was that the only difference between family and friends, is that with one, I was conditioned to trust, and the other, I trusted on my own accord. When growing up, a lot of people are subjected to the notion that since ‘Person A’ is family, they are someone you should trust. This isn’t always true, and is a terrible mindset to instill into a child.

There are family members I trust, but there are also family members who I cannot stand to look at either. So should I overlook my distain for them simply because we are family? In my mothers words “Yes”. It is no secret, especially to those it involves, that I am not too forthcoming to my fathers side of the family. There are a handful I actually harbor no ill will towards, but there are also plenty that I dislike. It doesn’t mean much, given that my encounters with them border on decades at a time, but never the less, there is family that I view as nobodies.

On my mother’s side, this is less common. Mostly in part because the only relatives I have are an aunt, grandparents, a sister, and a handful of cousins. I tend to keep most of them within arms reach, but I am also not very doting. If they ask for help, I will generally accept, but I will not go out of my way to interact with them either. I prefer to keep to myself, and for the most part, my family understands and respects that. Unlike my mother who felt the need to communicate often with family, I find no problem with going weeks without uttering so much as “hello”.

It is important to remember that family members are no different than some person on the street. Besides having a higher chance of being a matching organ donor, they are just regular people you’ve been raised to trust. There is no fault in removing family from your life if they are toxic, and there is no fault in keeping infrequent or rare communication with them. Not all families are the same, and not all family members are worth having. Just like friends, your family should be those who you truly trust and care about. Don’t merely call someone family because they are related to you; call them family because they have earned the title.

After my mother passed, a lot of family members began to come out of the woodwork to show their support. Some we had cut contact with decades ago, others we were glad to hear from. My stance for those who’ve lost has always been, regardless of their relationship or closeness to the deceased, if they wish to mourn or give regards, there is no harm in the words they say. However, some of my family weren’t as open to that idea, and felt slightly perturbed to hear from those who’d long since stopped talking to my mother.

Since I was in charge of the funeral, and based on my mother’s wishes, I enforced the policy that anyone and everyone was welcome. It was the basis for my suggestion on the livestream and why I feel the entire experience went as well as it did. Sure we were greeted by plenty of family we had no desire to see, but it wasn’t the time and place to have petty feelings come out. My only grievance was the lacking appearance of my father, who unbeknownst to me was informed not to show up on my account. I felt genuinely bad that her husband, and man that she conceived me with felt unwelcomed to pay his respects, even if I had personal distain for him.

In the end, once all was said and done, true family are the ones that stand by your side long after you deal with a loss, and fortunately I had plenty of family leftover once the dust cleared. Not everyone has what it takes to cut ties with those they’ve grown up with, and my viewpoint is certainly not the best way to deal with family either. All people start out the same to me, strangers who must prove themselves worth my time and trust. If they aren’t people I find to be a positive influence on my life, they will be gone and forgotten faster than it takes to tell them that. My mother loved her family, and she never regretted being as close as she was. I commend her for sticking it out through tough times, and always being there when she was needed. I do not know if I could live up to the teachings she instilled in me, but I certainly wont turn my back on those I call family should they ever need anything.

Everyone has a secret, but once you die, those secrets tend to go with you, except the ones you leave behind. My mother wasn’t what you call secretive, rather, she was very selective of whom she told things too. Some people were informed about certain things, while others left completely in the dark. To this day I still carry secrets she once told me, which I will respectfully keep until I myself die.

One of my mother’s biggest secrets, at least to me, was how early she claimed she caught her cancer. When she was originally diagnosed, she told me that she caught it rather early. I came to find out later that she had lied, and instead was diagnosed with late stage three leaning on early stage four. She most likely told me this for because if I were to know how far along she was, I would know her chances of survival weren’t as good as she made it out to seem.

In time I learned that I was always the last to know things related to her cancer. In some regard, I tended to take a less hands on approach and treat her like she wasn’t sick. To her it might have seemed like I was living in denial, which was the furthest from the truth. I was highly aware of her ailment, and rather perceptive to times she struggled with getting through the day. I made the choice to keep quiet about it, and continue treating her like she was perfectly fine. This choice was in hopes of giving her the feeling that she could still do anything she wanted to, but in the end it made me seem as though I was distancing myself from a problem I couldn’t come to terms with.

I was the last to find out she was given one to six months to live, and admittedly it was hard to swallow. Looking at someone who lives with an expiration date looming over them creates a sense of tension and anxiety, especially if you are the one whom it sits above. There were times I panicked and would barrage her with questions about things she clearly didn’t want to think about, and others times I would engross myself with things to avoid the thought. In the end, the turning point for me was seeing my mother at her worst.

On accident I walked in on her sitting on the side of her bed, listening to some music and crying. She, like any rational person, was trying to cope with the reality of death. While she tried to cover it up and say she was fine, I insisted she talk with me about it, to which we did. She shared with me her fears, her doubts, her hopes and her regrets. She admitted feelings she had kept bottled away, worried that just speaking of them might cause problems. A flurry of secrets, and a stream of tears, filled the room for well over an hour as we sat there talking. I tried to reassure her, give her advice and thank her for everything she had done up until that point.

While it is selfish to think, there is a part of me that believes it helped her feel more comfortable, and relieved, that her death wouldn’t cause rippling problems that fractured her family or tore apart her friends. That dying wasn’t her fault, and it was okay to express herself. Ironically, I sat there, telling my mother these things and ultimately living my life the exact opposite. I held back my tears as I talked with her, I never talking about my own fears, doubts, hopes and regrets. Ultimately, letting her die without saying anything, and enduring the recoil as those very emotions let unspoken now coil around me and constrict my every thought.

I feel that everyone has a big secret that they keep, tucked away and perpetually ignored. We all have something we’d rather not admit, and yet, admitting it might not turn out as badly as you convince yourself it will. For me, I feel that my secret could cause problems in plenty of situations, and ultimately force me to choose a path I have long since stopped thinking about. As stupid as I feel doing it, my biggest secret is this; I only show one-third of the person I truly am.

For those who know me, it is hard to conceptualize, being that for almost two decades I have been essentially putting on a farce, all to protect something that might not have needed it in the first place. At my core, I am just a happy-go-lucky child. I enjoy adventure and going to new places, seeing new sights and learning new things. I wear my heart on my sleeve and can easily empathize with others. I enjoy being silly and making people laugh, as well as laughing alongside others. I am blindly optimistic and compassionate. I always want to help others, regardless of who they are, and have trouble saying no. Daydreaming is a pleasurable pastime for me and finding new worlds to engross myself into excites me.

I could go on, but by now you get the point. So why bother pretending to be someone you aren’t? Why invest so much effort into inventing some character and deceiving others who trust you? The answer is fairly simple; I did it to protect myself. Sure I could have just put on an act in public and been myself in private, but somewhere along the way, I made the choice that my personality isn’t built to survive in this world. Now I am not trying to get psychological or philosophical, not to mention highly convoluted, but there is truth to that statement.

People are generally selfish creatures, and those who are not, tend to be taken advantage of by the ones who are. You can get into a debate about merely limiting yourself to not being so easily taken advantage of, or training yourself to say no more often, but I argue that it is no different from me putting up a farce. I am still acting like someone I am not, so to me, if I am placed in a position to alter my behavior, I might as well go all out. So being my lazy self I just chose the opposite personality of myself and ran with it.

Expressing this secret changes nothing however, while acting the way I am doesn’t make me any happier as a person, going back to who I am isn’t the best idea either. I can’t simply remove decades of actions and personality that people have come to attribute as myself. I also struggle with breaking out of the farce I created, defaulting to it when I find myself uncomfortable with a situation or being around those who know me.

In the end, in the days I have to myself, I spend them being who I truly am, while on the surface keeping up a façade merely to keep things consistent. Keeping secrets to yourself is natural, but there are times that certain secrets are worth expressing even if the circumstances surrounding them might not garner a favorable reaction. It all boils down to how heavy the given secret weighs on you, and if telling it might relieve some burned from your shoulders and allow you to carry on in life happier.

When experiencing loss, it is normal to experience the stages of grief. How you experience them, is always different from person to person, though most tend to deal with them in the same order. This is my account of going through those stages.

Denial

Nothing is scarier than your brain playing make believe. In the wake of my mothers passing, I found myself still holding onto the belief that she would come walking through the door or send me a text message. Nothing about the situation I just experienced felt fake, yet somehow my brain fully believed she hadn’t passed. It might have been harder given that I was living in the same home as she was. Never the less, I continued to feel this odd sensation.

At times she would normally come home from work, my body was instinctively tell me to get up and go greet her at the driveway. I would sometimes forget to make a meal for myself because I was assuming she would be coming home soon and would make dinner. Little things like this continued to happen, and occasionally still happen. I have long since accepted that she is no longer here, but some habits are harder to get rid of than others.

I think the worst part of it all was realizing how lonely my home is without her. The small encounters we had from time to time subdued the feeling, and without her, I was made more apparent of how important human contact can be. As time moved on, the house began to rearrange itself and we had the funeral, I finally moved on and began dealing with the next stage.

Anger

As I discussed in a previous chapter, I am no stranger to anger. Once my brain no long grasped at the idea she would return, I started to feel aggravated. Questions would always run through my brain; why did she have to die? Who is responsible? What do I do now? When will I feel better? Of course these questions had no exact answers, and that itself also made me angry.

I noticed myself becoming spiteful at anything related to cancer. Donations to cancer foundations, false hope filled news about getting one step closer to a cure, and so on. I felt that the problem of cancer no longer existed now that the person that needed it the most had already succumb to it. Why help others when it serves no benefit to you? That sort of mentality is of course not why we cure disease, let alone how a functioning world should work.

I wont say that anger is no longer part of my life, but it isn’t as strong as it was. I still resent the amount of money research for cancer gets and how multiple decades of funding proved worthless when it was needed most. I still get angry when I forget to take the trash out because my mother wasn’t here to remind me. Little things that don’t impact my life, but still get a rise out of me. I think it is okay to continue being angry even after you accept your loss, but it shouldn’t be a common feeling.

Bargaining

Most people in a situation where you are going to lose a loved one tend to turn to religion to help. For me it was the opposite. My mother was a religious person; she attended church regularly, read the bible on occasion and even had her pastor visit before she passed. In my heart I knew that if there was a God, clearly he didn’t care. Religion doesn’t work like a democracy; the more people send prayers don’t sway God to perform miracles. So if all these people were praying for her, including a preacher of the faith, then what good would my own prayers do? Clearly I cannot bargain with a deity, and quite frankly, I shouldn’t default to doing so either.

My method was to research. I looked around as much as I could of ways to halt cancer growth, from confirmed scientifically to long shot at best. I tried my best to use my talents of Internet research in finding some sort of help. With that I bargained, almost pleading to the Internet for a website or forum discussion that could give me some method to help her. In the end, it was all for nothing. While no doctor can know all there is to know about medicine, it is uncommon for a specialist to be uninformed about treatments and procedures in their field. I eventually came to accept that if there were a way to help her, the doctor she had been going to for two years would have said something.

With bargaining I found myself trying to bide my time. I tried to convince myself that I could spend enough time with her before she passed to make up for the time I will not have later. I argued with myself that giving up any unnecessary actions would mean I could do more to help her last longer. Of course all of it was a lie. The brain can do many things, but alter reality it cannot.

Depression

Again, another topic I discussed previously, but like anger, it didn’t just pop into my life after the loss. I have a habit of living the things I don’t want to experience unprepared for in my mind. I try to imagine every scenario, every reaction and every emotion. In most cases it works at desensitizing you to an event you will soon face, and fairly helpful when you live constantly anxious. I found myself able to cry about each scenario I made up, slowly limiting the amount of sadness I felt each time. I tried to focus on being able to keep my cool, make sure everything was okay, and most importantly, not lose my mind.

There are things I can handle well when surprised, public speaking or being called into work to name a few. There are also things I don’t handle well when surprised, bad news or unplanned trips are good examples. I usually don’t find myself dealing with surprises all that often. At most, I’ve gotten a few calls from my mother before asking to help with a flat tire or locking keys in a car. When it comes to smaller things like that, I can handle them. Being sprung news about your parent having cancer wasn’t one I dealt with well.

Naturally I felt depressed, and as things got worse, so did my depression. My biggest worry was that I would wake up to finding my mother dead, a sight and feeling I no doubt could not handle. Fortunately this was not how everything came to pass, and after she closed her eyes for the last time, I felt and overwhelming weight of sadness. Every negative emotion I could conceive hit me like a train, causing my legs to buckle and my eyes to become waterfalls. As quickly as it hit, I also felt it go away. As time goes on, I still feel depressed, with it dragging out longer than I would like. I want it to all go away, but I also know it is part of moving on.

Acceptance

I will never be okay that my mother has passed, and there is no reason why I should. I have accepted that she is no longer here, and will never return, but that is all. When I felt acceptance was when I had my first birthday without her. I came to realize that it is fine to embrace a life without her, because there is no other life to accept. I didn’t want her to be gone, but I knew that she was. There will never be a time I see her smile again, or hear her voice. I will never give her a hug or cry on her shoulder. I accepted that although it feels wrong, a life without her is the one I am living, and will continue to do so.

In my mind she should have never died. She gave so much and in the end was given a shitty disease because of nothing more than bad luck. I hate that life continues to move forward without her, and I hate that I was left to slowly rot away on this forsaken planet without the one who put me here. Most people never feel okay that they lost a loved one, and although others might say otherwise, it is perfectly acceptable to feel that way. As long as you accept that they are gone, and move forward, your feelings on the matter can be positive or negative. I hope that one day I might feel more positive on the issue, but for now, there is no reason to force a positive mindset when I truly don’t feel one.

I have never been one to care much about my own health. After being bestowed a phobia I never asked for and its accompanying anxiety, the desire to be healthy never crossed my mind. It was like a fleeting dream, a world where I could eat properly, exercise regularly and sleep soundly. When faced with a loss due in part to a disease, it has a way of making you more conscious of your health.

I’ve never had a job that allowed me to afford or provided me healthcare. It was mostly due in part to working part-time jobs with underwhelming pay. After I was dropped from my mother’s health coverage, I was nagged into getting a state provided health plan. I rarely use it, and mostly find going to the doctors to be more of a bother than actually being sick. After becoming eighteen I can easily count the amount of times I visited a doctor, and only once was it because I actually needed help.

When I was younger, I visited the doctor somewhat frequently in a futile attempt to figure out why I was suddenly averse to eating food. Unsurprisingly the results were lackluster, with most just recommending me to take antacid or anti-depressants. Without much effort, doctors would simply ask me what was wrong, and upon explaining to them I was afraid of vomiting, would simply shut down and just recommend me to a therapist. In time I started to loathe doctors, people who had the technology and knowledge to possibly diagnose a problem simply resort to pushing the work off to someone else.

I tried therapy for years, taking anti-depressants and talking about my feelings. I even attempted to do so a year ago, again leading to no results. There is this assumption from family members that the problems I experienced in my past were the root cause of the phobia. That somehow my mind created this problem to protect itself from an external crisis I mentally couldn’t deal with. To me this was all garbage. I remembered my past, and while it wasn’t the greatest, there are no logical correlations that would tie an event in my life to a resulting phobia of vomiting. Regardless, I still tried letting a mental wellness doctor attempt to figure out my problems.

As time passed I tried various things to help myself. Maybe eating small amounts all day would give me more energy and expand my stomach. Cutting out all soda and junk food might benefit me over time. Without having proper knowledge of what ailment you have, there is not much one can do to fix the problem. In the end, my mother was a big factor in keeping me motivated to pushing myself. She always felt that there would be some sort of solution for me someday. That blind hope gave me the drive to keep trying, even when my body got worse.

Once she was diagnosed with cancer, I started to worry about what that entailed. I knew that she had suffered previously with cancer, but never put much thought into it. As an adult, I worried that I too might be prone to the same problem as her. Could my body have a higher risk of developing cancer? Could I have some sort of cancer and just be unaware? How would one get diagnosed? Then I realized that I had no real means to help myself regardless. I had only a state provided medical plan, the same that my mother had, who at one point attempted to kick her off once she began getting treatment for cancer. How could I possibly get the necessary tests run when someone who was going through the disease had trouble just getting treatment?

I spent a lot of time milling it over, trying to figure out some way to use a poorly built system to my advantage. Unfortunately, there isn’t much I could come up with. I could explain my situation to a doctor and omit the whole anxiety and phobia issue. The two problems I experience could simply vanish if the underline problem ceased to exist, so why bother mentioning something that can’t be fixed physically anyway? Is that really a proper method necessary to receive care? Lying to a doctor so they will give you the time of day in order to fix a problem that has been crippling me since childhood? I’d argue it is. At the same time, I could leave empty-handed yet again. There might just be no real physical issue I can blame for my continued decline in health. Maybe I just pulled the short straw in life and am forever forced to slowly wither away until I die, all because a biological anomaly in my brain decided to mistake vomiting with a life or death situation.

I hate not knowing the answer, but I also hate that the possibility that there is no answer at all. How can someone become motivated to live healthy if his or her body can’t even function properly enough to carry itself day to day? Why struggle to have a better quality of life, if that quality is insignificantly better than the quality it is now? I don’t want to continue feeling terrible everyday, but I also don’t see the benefit in pushing myself to feel just as terrible everyday with the bonus of firmer stools or clearer urine. Maintaining your health is an exhausting task, but unless you will receive some real benefits from it, there is no reason to go the extra mile.

I have started to look into seeing a Gastroenterologist. If the problem is feeling nauseated when I eat, then what isn’t to say my stomach isn’t just improperly functioning? I will know more in the coming days, but until then, I still continue to think about what sort of risks I might be adverse to. Are there issues with my body I don’t know about? Do I have a higher chance to contract anything given my family history? There are always anxious thoughts about my health going through my mind, but at the same time, if I become ill, there isn’t much I can do about it besides hopping I can receive proper care when the time comes.

Most people find something they feel like they were made for. Others stumble their way through life trying to find that answer. Regardless of which one you are, having a passion is something everyone finds at some point. It just takes time to start feeling that way.

My mother did HOA management as her career. When I talked with her about it, she gave off the impression that it was something she genuinely enjoyed doing. It could be that the responsibility of managing blended well with her love for being a parent. In the end, I never got a chance to ask what she truly loved doing in life, though most tell me being a mother was it. I feel that having a passion is a great feeling, the motivation to get up everyday because you truly want to do something. Sometimes I wonder if I actually have a passion, or if I simply just settled for what I could do given my circumstances.

I have a knack for technology, if it beeps and boops, chances are I can build, repair or use it with little effort. I stubbornly refuse to accept I might not know enough about how technology works, and have expended countless hours working towards having a vast knowledge on the topic. I never had any official training in the field; most of my experience comes from personal interest. I took a few classes in high school, which mostly equated to sitting down for an hour listening to someone spout off a Wikipedia page everyday. However, given the chance to do it all over again, I would quickly go down the same path.

After gaining my anxiety, leaving my home became an issue. When you are shackled to a house, you start to find ways to make yourself happy amid the cries of insanity. Computers were that facet, and my gateway to what started as a hobby and eventually became my life. I got my first computer for my fiftieth birthday from my mother, who was gracious enough to get someone to custom build it for me. At the time I was overjoyed to have the option to play video games on a new platform. I knew some people who played online games and wanted to join them. For a year things were fine, until I encountered a barrier that could only be resolved through upgrading my computer.

I saved up my allowance, and had my mother contact the guy who had originally built my computer. He installed a new graphics card and charged what I felt was a rather large amount of money for essentially less than an hour of his time. I began to ask him about it, seeing if it was a difficult task and was it fun to do. He seemed to give this attitude like it was only worth the money involved. Building computers was just a simple business in a time when the average person could barely understand the different between dial-up and AOL. I felt a bit disappointed in his response, and proceeded to search online to find a better answer to my question.

Once there I learned just how deep technology really was. The knowledge of building a computer from scratch, and all the ones and zeros that made up what I had come to know as an operating system. I continued to expand my knowledge, taking what was simply a hobby into a passion. I wanted to build computers of the future, I wanted to teach others how to harness technology, and most importantly, I wanted to continue feeling the sensation of joyful intrigue.

Once I finished high school, I was left in a particular situation. I could go to college to advance my knowledge, or I find a new path to walk down. I looked into college, and found that although it gave me access to countless people with far more knowledge on the subject, it also came at a price not worth admission. I swallowed my doubts and pushed myself to attend a trade school not far from home. Because of my anxiety, it was hard to travel a long distance from home and feel comfortable enough to focus on school. My dream was to attend MIT, a well-renown school for technology and a bastion of technology beyond what I could imagine.

I neither had the grades or the ability to even consider the option, and so settling on a nearby trade school I ventured off to learn more about my passion. It was then I learned that my doubts were more valid that I thought. Higher learning is generally ninety percent general education and ten percent your career. Sure some colleges might differ here and there, but the fact remained that majority wise, you will spend at least two years learning more about the things you already spent twelve years of your life ignoring.

I didn’t need to know more history, english, math or science. I already knew it all, and college could only introduce me to more advance knowledge on subjects I neither had an interest nor need for. Granted high school gave the option to skip these classes by taking college level classes early, but they weren’t required, so students who didn’t have the passion to pursue usually overlook them. Never the less, I found myself unable to give a crap. I skipped a lot of classes, and ultimately ended up dropping out when they informed me I wasn’t allowed to test out of every class and leave college in under a year.

I felt that my passion might be harder to turn into a career than I original thought. I contemplated getting a few certifications, but again, I was present with the issue of having to pay money every couple of years to retake a test to recertify. Doing the math, I would end up dropping well over the cost of college just to stay certified my entire life, fiscally wasteful. So I just gave up and got a part time job. I started to lose interest in my passion and found myself just becoming complacent with my current employment. I wanted to do something I loved, but the cost didn’t equal the sacrifice necessary.

Eventually I found a college that promised I would get a better chance to actually learn more about my passion. They promised I could test out of one class every semester, which adding up meant I could basically spend my time taking the computer classes and just test out of the general education. Unfortunately I learned this wasn’t true upon arriving for my first day. I was informed that not only would it take me a minimum of 2 years before I could even take a computer class, I was only allowed to test out of the computer classes themselves. I was furious, as I rightly should have been. I tried to tough it out, but eventually I again lost interest and dropped out.

I found myself in a situation where I not only could I not pursue my dream career, but I also racked up a fair amount of debt in the pursuit of it. I slowly became resentful towards my knowledge, and the desire to want more for myself than just a menial existence doing a job I hate. I finally just put technology on the backburner and continued doing part-time jobs. I found myself doing a construction job that while being labor intensive, gave me the chance to push myself physically and emotionally going places I had never been before. I enjoyed it, and enjoyed the people I worked with. Then I was given a call; it was a job offer for tech support. I was elated, for the first time, I would have the chance to do a job that I enjoyed and get paid for it!

For a good six months I tried my best to find some enjoyment in my work. I spent hours helping resentful people fix basic computer issues they consistently blamed on the company and refused to learn why the issue even happened and how to not have it happen again. It was hell, a constant cycle of helping the same type of people with the same type of problems over and over, day after day. I again began to reset my knowledge, but on top of it, the people who refused to just learn a basic tip or two. I was promptly fired from the job for a ‘bad attitude’ after refusing to help a customer setup a printer over the phone. There were two reasons for this; the first is that my job was only to diagnose and fix issues on a customer’s computer, so unless the printer was already setup and just not showing up on the computer, there was nothing I could do. Second was the amount of time it would take to fix the issue could put me into a situation where I couldn’t help any other customers and make my ticket count go down which is also grounds for getting fired.

I decided to take the lesser of two evils, refuse the request to help and gladly accepted my termination. It was a terrible experience, and a wake up call to exactly what it was I willing wanted to do in terms of a career. I don’t want to help people who refuse to learn, and I don’t want to be in a position where I am forced to fix issues as fast as possible, even if it means having to be sloppy about it. To cut a long story short, I continually fell in and out of a bitter relationship with my passion. I questioned my true desire to do the thing I knew best and wondered if it was possible that technology wasn’t what I truly loved, but rather, something I decided was what I loved simply because I had invested so much time into it.

I continue wondering if my skills with technology are due in part to pure knowledge, or actually finding something that I am innately good at. Is there such a thing as a passion that everyone was made for? Does everyone even have a passion that they can call their own, or is it simply a benefit for a select few? I will never truly know the answers to these questions, and of course, know if my mother herself found her passion as well. Moving forward I will at some point come to an impasse, and be forced to decide if I am truly doing something I love, or if I am simply telling myself that for comfort sake.

There is always that voice in the back of your head weighing in on things going on in your life. Sometimes it is warranted, like a second opinion except biased and irrational. Other times it is unwanted, and it continues to say things you’d rather not hear or continue thinking about.

After the passing of my mother, I struggled with listening to my own thoughts. A lot of them were dark and brooding, telling me that life wasn’t worth living and things will never get better. Other times it continued to remind me of the emptiness I felt, pointing out what would be happening if she was still around and what could have happened in times I need her. It is like a cave, echoing the things you don’t want to say out loud and instead bounce around inside your head.

I try my best to ignore it, casually acting like I live completely devoid of self-thought. The echo is a large factor in why I struggle with my anxiety, its constant reminder of what I fear and doubt. Listening to the constant barrage of negative and frightening things wears me out, and sometimes frustrates me. I’ve come to learn that fighting it is akin to a shouting match between two stubborn people. The louder voice is the victor, and if I can shout positive things out loud, it drowns out the negative things that ring throughout my head.

There is no real problem with hearing the things you’d rather ignore. It can be helpful in facing problems that you attempt to stuff under an emotional rug and force you to move on from them. For me, it was a big factor is slowly coming to terms with my loss, as hearing the things I will never experience again braced me for the times when I felt things were amiss. Being able to know why I feel a certain way helped me move towards acceptance and slowly adjust to my new life without a mother.

On the other side, being reminded constantly that every bite of food could trigger my gag reflex or every sip of water could cause me to choke is less helpful. When I am in the midst of a panic attack, a big factor in overcoming it is to keep loudly telling myself things to calm me down. It looks weird from a bystander’s perspective, but to me, it is equivalent to a heated debate I am clearly never prepared for. I yell to myself things like “vomiting wont kill me, and it is irrational to feel sick when it takes a minimum of two hours for a body to register food it has eaten is spoiled“. Debating facts about the human body, true or not, causes myself to question if the feeling I am having is genuine or not.

When you hear a scary noise coming from outside your door, most of the time you tell yourself that there is nothing to be afraid of. You do this by reminding yourself that all the doors and windows are locked, you never heard the sound of broken glass and ghosts don’t exist. Factually, any of these could be false. You might have forgotten to lock something or maybe you are attuned to communicating with spirits, but never the less, you calm your worries by spouting things to yourself in an attempt to overrule the echoes.

I worry that in time my echo will adapt, find ways to overpower my own voice and finally push me down every chance it gets. An uncontrollable wave of anxiety and negativity flooding my subconscious so loud that curling up in a ball and desperately trying to force sleep is my only reprieve. Getting to that point might be impossible, but it is also somewhere I never want to be. Unable to so much as stay awake long enough to enjoy life before it is loudly shouted away by a force of my own making.

I feel that listening to the echoes can have its list of benefits. Sometimes it can remind you of the way you truly feel while you consciously put on a façade. Other times it can force your knees to buckle in fear and self-doubt. The key to finding a balance lies in knowing the right time to listen and the right time to ignore, how you go about doing either is irrelevant, so long as it works. A question that will always haunt me however is; what were the echoes my mother heard before she closed her eyes for the last time? Was it just a calming silence or a flurry of fear? I guess one day I will know, when I too am facing my last fleeting moments. My only hope is that for once in my life, I will hear nothing but the sound of my own breathing, followed by the familiar sensation of losing consciousness.

Even when we express ourselves, there always seem to be parts we omit from others. It could be something simple as thinking the way someone laughs is annoying or they have a chipped tooth. There are also the darker ones, like wishing someone didn’t exist. Plenty of people internalize a lot of feelings, but not many externalize them in fear of subjugation.

At this point, most of my personal feelings have been tossed onto display in this series. Not all of them have ever been shared before, and others are broken records. Though above all else, they have been tame, and thoughtfully written with the intent to be read by all sorts of people. There are clearly some ways of expression that might not work for those who aren’t as close as others, and for the most part, this series was written to avoid that problem.

This post however will be raw, with no filter and no clever wording. It does come with a highly recommended warning, that the content inside might cause some to be triggered. This topic is not to be discussed at a later time, or ever. I will not acknowledge anything written below, and will not apologize if the content bothers some. You have been warned.

 

I am so tired. So tired of the constant drudgery of life. I hate being constantly in a financial situation over my head. Feeling helpless when trying to manage bills that pile up and never making enough money to feel comfortable. Always biting my tongue when in a conversation I want to contribute to but awkwardly insecure about what others will think of me. Trying to make new friends and instinctively being an asshole to them in some twisted ideal to protect some fucking worthless personality that has long since faded into a fond memory. Every time I look into the mirror I see nothing but this disgusting body that reminds me of a burden I have been carrying long past my limits. Always wearing sweaters outside to try and hide my overly lanky body so I can avoid awkward conversations or off-hand remarks towards it. I hate sitting in a shallow pool of self-esteem. I feel like worthless trash that always fucks up and will never amount to anything more than some no-name forgettable human who contributed nothing and wasted everything.

I constantly deal with crippling loneliness, depression and anger. I always complain that these things bother me, yet I am too passive and self-doubting to change it. I always strive for attention; in any way I can get it. I don’t need it because I lacked it growing up, I just look for it because I worry that otherwise I will be forgotten. I want to be a positive influence on those I care about, yet I always feel like I am that person you don’t admit you know. I carry myself with arrogance that is fueled by hot air and weightless facts. I can’t even bring myself to honestly open up emotionally to another human being because I can’t fathom the notion it is worth their time.

I know people who care about me surround me, but I always question that fact regardless of what they say or do. I anxiously believe that all those I’ve come to trust will without fail stab me in the back or abandon me. I want to erase my memories of half my life, and would do anything to achieve that goal. I hate fondly looking back into the past because all I can think about is my anxiety. I want to travel the world, but I don’t want to do it alone, but I will never ask someone to join me. I hate being shy and awkward. I hate looking down on myself more than others can ever hope to accomplish. I am the only person you will meet who prefers to hear others insult me because it is always less painful than hearing the insults I tell myself daily. I contemplate suicide almost every night before I go to bed, lying awake thinking about the methods and the outcome it would have. I find comfort in the notion that I might die from my anxiety before I ever have to experience losing someone I care about again.

I want to get over my anxiety any way I can, but I stubbornly refuse help any chance I get for fear it will all amount to nothing and I will be left disappointed yet again that I am forced to live my life the way I do. Why the fuck was I ever born? I can’t say no to people because I always feel like I am being an asshole and I fear that if I lose any of my friends, I will never make new ones, resulting in an even lonelier life than I already lead. A lot of the things I do in my life are passive-aggressive means to kill myself. I never wear a seatbelt in cars hoping to die in a crash, I never go to the doctors in hopes an unknown disease will eventually kill me in my sleep and I smoke cigarettes in a disgusting attempt to starve myself and incite the growth of cancer. I want to die so badly, but I also want to live just as much. I want to experience true happiness, but I also can’t let go of this fucking suffocating darkness that hangs over me. I push everyone away little by little to punish myself for feeling comfortable with my anxiety.

I want to make everyone in the world happy, but I am unwilling to trust anyone. Infants eat more food than I do, and are somehow un-phased by the act of vomiting, which as an adult with a phobia I can’t control infuriates me. I cannot stand the sound of children crying or dogs barking. Loud noises make me agitated and bring me to the point of tears. I can’t stand confrontation, though I will act like I am an instigator regardless of how terrifying it makes me feel. I try to seem like everything is always okay, when in actuality I can barely find the energy to get up in the morning or even keep a congruent thought. My dog is my best friend, but I feel guilty when I look at him because he reminds me I am not mentally well enough to accommodate all his needs. I also hate how affectionate my dog is because I selfishly don’t want to take the time to give him attention when I myself am trying to distract from my constant misery through video games or television shows. I have no confidence in my ability to do anything. I will always back away when asked to apply for jobs in fields I can excel in out of fear I will be unable to perform well in them.

I am jealous of everyone who doesn’t go through the same things I do on a daily basis, and feel that anyone’s life is most likely better emotionally than mine. I hate having to live without a mother, and wish that the vacant feeling I have would go away. I am bitter of the fact that I was born into a world where I am constantly punishing myself. I am also bitter that amid all this self-punishment my mother was taken away from me, leaving me alone on this god-forsaken planet without the love and guidance of a parent. It is infuriating that every attempt I make at love has always failed. As much as I want to forgive my father and step-father for their bad choices in parenting due to being raised poorly themselves, I can’t overcome the amount of anger I have towards the situations they put me in. I’ve always just wanted to have a father who I could learn from; instead I am bitter that they only thing they taught me were disappointment.

I shudder to think of what life would be like without my grandparents, and their continuing age worries me that time will go by too fast. I am not sure how many more times I can watch someone I care about die. I am aware, but agitated, that being born comes with the burden of experiencing the death of loved ones. I sometimes can’t tell the difference between the things I say to protect myself and the things I say in honesty. I worry that my life is a muddy lie wrapped around only a kernel of truth. More times than not I always remember things that are said or done to me, but I pretend that I am bad at remembering when in reality I just don’t care about the topic or situation. I need hope, but no matter how much I am given, it simply slides off me, never sticking around long enough to make any impact. I can’t remember the last time I felt like a normal person, and it scares me that I may never feel that way again. I don’t even know if this whole blog is helping in any way, but I continue to write it more for others than myself. I want to stop internalizing everything that goes on in my life to upkeep a false appearance of complacency and sanity. I just want to be fucking happy, why is it so difficult when being miserable seems to come so easy? Why do anti-depressants do nothing to me when sleep always makes me feel comfortable? Why can’t I just fucking function like everyone else does but on a higher capacity? I just want to lay down and cry until I run out of tears, but I always hold myself back because I am ashamed to express myself in a healthy manner. I just want to move on from my past, instead of letting go of the future.

 

It is alright to internalize things; it is just as alright to externalize them as well. I don’t think it is healthy to keep more things in than you express though. There should be a fine balance between the two, and for me, I do not live that way. I am always holding back, always keeping things to myself and always regretting those choices in the end. A lot of it comes from self-doubt, but a lot of it also comes from fear. Don’t let that stop you from letting go of the things you need to let go. I think in the end it will make you feel better, but also more aware of the things needing work on. Little by little I am working on my internalized feelings, but as they get worked through, more is also added on. One day I might clear it all out, and start fresh. One day.

My brother asked me to write a few things related to dealing with the loss of our mother. While I am not one for writing; that is my brothers forte, I figured I would share my side of a loss. I can’t help you to cope with loss. In part because i’m still not coping with it myself. Losing someone is a horrible feeling, but losing your mother is hands down the worst thing I’ve ever experienced.

I spent the last twenty-two years not discovering myself, but discovering who I am with mother by my side. I don’t even know something as simple as what cleaning products to buy without her telling me. I did whatever she wanted to do because she is was my best friend, and I just wanted to make her happy. I did this for everything, to the point where she thought her favorite places to eat were mine as well, but in reality I hated them. My mother and I did everything together, she was never too busy to hang out with me. Without her here, I realize no one was as available as she was.

My mother never had anything handed to her in life. she always went above and beyond for people, while getting nothing in return. She did everything right as a parent. I’d like to believe my brother and I never turned to abusing drugs or alcohol because her love for us was always enough. When she got sick, I felt my life falling apart. During that time she would leaned on me more then she ever had before. She would always tell me how strong I was and that she was proud of me. I wasn’t strong, I just knew she needed me to hold her like she had done for me so many years before.

I didn’t want any regrets, so I spent every free moment I had with her. At the time I was living a good forty-five mins away. Thoughts of dropping everything and coming home crossed my mind many times, but she always convinced me otherwise. Our relationship started to get stronger as the years passed on. We shared so many stories and secrets; we laughed, and sometimes cried. As the days of hanging out continued, we became usuals at a sushi place near her house. Our phone calls went from three times a week, to five times a day. I tried to learn everything I could from her in the short time I knew was left.

She had a very strong belief in God, something that came out of no where before she got sick. One day after teasing her about having these beliefs, she told me it makes her feel better to know there is a reason all this bad stuff keeps happening to her. She just wanted it all to make sense. My mother was an incredible person who everyone loved, yet somehow she got the short end of the stick in every life situation. It broke my heart to read her journal while going through her personal effects, and seeing all the questions she asked God. She continually asking him “why her?”. She was so scared to leave my brother and I behind, and it killed me to see her doubting the one person who was supposed to give her strength.

No matter what age you are, you will never be ready to lose your mother. A mothers’ job is never done. You can never prepare enough to feel comfortable letting go of your mother, but you have to also know when enough is enough. When things got bad, I had to sit my brother down and explain this to him. She would have never let go no matter how much pain she was in. I knew she needed to hear the words “It’s okay to let go”. That didn’t mean any of us were ready, but we also didn’t want her to suffer. For me I will always have a beautiful last memory of my mother laying in bed, eating her grape popsicle and being a goofball per usual. She would hold my brother and I together because she hated nothing more then having people cry over her. We all laughed, cried, and said “I love you” one last time.

I say that I have no advice on coping with loss because for two years I was trying to prepare of all this. I would randomly cry alone everyday on my drive home from work. When my mother passed, I was at work and speeding down the highway trying to make to home to say goodbye. When I got the call, naturally I wanted to cry. To my surprise though, I felt empty. I screamed, but no tears came from my eyes. I was filled with rage, yet all I could do is sit there waiting to feel something. At that moment I thought the earth would stop moving, like the world would come to a halt simply because my incredibly kind hearted mother had passed.

As I pulled up to my house, I thought my legs were going to give out on me as I walked up to the door, not knowing what would be in store for me after this moment. I took a deep breath, and accepted my life for what it is now. Everyone in my family looked at me like I was a sad puppy. After hugging my grandmother, I went to see my mother. She was just laying in bed, almost as if she was just sleeping. I let myself fall onto her, just wanting her to hug me back.

After saying goodbye to what was once the body of my mother, it was time to inform everyone of the news. I tagged alongside my grandmother as we signed papers and made funeral plans. I felt like a zombie just sitting there in the car. I was going through the motions but still never felt anything. Its like I died right along with her. As my grandmother retold the story of the last thirty minutes of my mothers’ life, I felt myself slowly slipping further away from reality. Watching all these people look at me crying, and hugging me. I continued to feel numb.

Since everyone in my family grieves differently, I found myself constantly catering to their feelings instead of my own. I didnt want to talk to anyone about what had happened. I just wanted all the reminders to be gone. I wanted the funeral to be over, the ashes to be scattered, and to move on with life. But since I didn’t live in her house anymore, I wanted it stay just the way it was. It was so comforting to have a home. When you move out, no matter how old you are, it’s always a great feeling to come home. It’s like a warm fire when you have been in the cold all day. With lots of yelling, a ton of crying and a few days not getting out of her bed, I let go of the last place I could go to feel my mother.

I’m not coping with loss because I have no idea how to. I constantly go places and do things so I dont have the time to realize she is gone. Im okay with this, though I still cry everyday. Getting out of bed each day is my biggest struggle, but I’m okay. Everyone I know tells me I’m so strong, but I don’t know why people have always said this to me. I’ve never felt strong. I will probably never get past the loss of my best friend and I will most likely leave California in an attempt to continue ignoring the reality of it all.

Everyone deals with loss in their own way. Whether it’s running away, making changes to your surroundings, or just talking to everyone about the loss. I guess you just have to do what feels right and remember there is no wrong way to cope with loss. Years will pass and holidays will get easier. You may cry less, but ultimately you can never go back to who you were before the loss. That could be a good thing or bad thing. A loss becomes apart of who you are and what makes you who you’ll become. Not to say that letting a loss take over your life is fine, because you can’t truly live life consumed in every little detail surrounding it.

At the end of it all, pick yourself up, brush yourself off and move forward with your life. Even though you don’t want it to, life goes on. I promise you will feel broken, but you will also be okay someday.

It has been seven months since the death of my mother. After many chapters, and plenty of time to reflect, there is one large problem that still needs fixing.

I have yet to move on from this event. I have pushed myself to get my medical issues fixed, and I have started to adjust to a life without her. Holidays have come and gone, new traditions are being built and my family tries their best to cope. Personally, the hardest part for me in all of this is finding the willpower to push forward.

Every morning I wake up with a grudge towards life. An unhealthy level of disinterest with the world around me and the things in it. All my actions are met with constant criticism from myself on if they are really worth the effort put in. I am alive, and I have so much life left to live, yet in the same breath, so did my mother. Her time spent was well used, and she pushed herself to do things that I can barely do. She laughed, loved, cried, and created. Meanwhile, the best I can muster myself to do is just follow the same patterns I’ve been doing for decades.

I still hate the fact that her life ended while mine continued. A life filled with so much positivity and promise, where mine is filled with spite and pessimism. Sure they are measly mindsets that could be altered, but why bother? Why struggle to change who I am when fate could have simply chosen to kill me instead? What benefit is there in leaving a person like me alive when someone like her could do so much more?

I know this mindset is a poisonous one, but it is how I truly feel. I don’t see a light at the end of all this, just a meager struggle to keep myself from giving into my darkest thoughts and correcting the mistake that fate made. But what can I do? There is no real way to fill the void left, and when weighed pound for pound, my death would have been far less painful to the family than hers. I wanted to take her place. I wanted to be the one laying there in pain, awaiting the end of my mindlessly shortened life. I wanted my mother, the stronger one, to be left consoling the family and keeping things together. I know she could do it far better than I can, and I know my death would be easier to cope with than it has been for hers.

But ultimately what is the use? Short of suicide, my life will not end so easily. I will continue to live on, continue to watch as those I care about die, leaving me to one day stand alone atop a lonely family pillar. Here stands the last remnant of what was once a happy family. It is sickening to think about, but even sicker to live through. Time will never stop moving, people will never stop dying, and I will have to find a way to deal with it all. I hate it.

I can barely look myself in the mirror, I struggle wanting to get up every morning to do the things I need to do and I can’t stop thinking about the eventuality of death. I want to find some light in all this loss, but I think there is just no real positive side to it all. A person who I cared about died, and no amount of smiles or hugs can change that. I can’t laugh away the pain, nor can I drown out the sadness and fear. All I can do is just keep doing what I’ve always done, and hope that when the time comes, I will be ready to stand atop my lonely pillar.

When you lose someone important, it is often you feel like something has been stolen from you. This can lead some to fear when they might lose again while others might be lead to fear their own inevitable demise. Personally, I felt like a trust has been broken, leaving me with a bitter sense of distrust towards everything I once found comfort in believing.

I have always been somewhat forthcoming when it came to trust. I’ve had my share of backstabs and betrayals like most anyone has. I learned the hard way that people will just as easily befriend you simply to toss you aside when you are no longer useful to them. It is just a sad but true fact of life. I have also be in many a situation where the trust of family members has been my folly, almost as many times as strangers have backstabbed me. Yet I still found myself finding ways to overcome and learn to trust again. You act, you fail, you learn, and you repeat this cycle until your successes begin to outweigh your failures.

When my mother passed away, what I felt was not that she had been stolen from me, but rather that a promise had been broken. As naive as I may have been, when she told me in my youth that she’d always be there, I truly believed it. As I grew up, I realized just how important those small words meant to me. Having someone always there to point out my mistakes, to teach me and of course; to stop me from falling into a bottomless pit. She was not a safety net, but more like a reliable beacon that I could always look to when I was lost. When she was gone, she took with her that beacon. She broke a promise that I was foolish to believe she could keep.

As time moved on, and I adjusted to life without her, I realized just how important that beacon was. There are always times in my life that I struggle to overcome. Things that to well-adjusted adults seem trivial in nature. These minor struggles are what I tend to get hung up in the most. I nit-pick at them, like trying to figure out how to move a boulder in my path instead of merely walking around it and moving on. It is fair to say I am just inept at being a function adult, but to some capacity, it is just how my mind works. This is where I would always simply ask, “Is this really as hard as I think it is?” to which she would reply in a kind but mature way “No, you’re just over-analyzing. Just move past it.” Sure I could tell these things to myself, but just like someone with self-esteem issues, hearing it from someone else carries more weight than what you tell yourself.

This all going back to the main issue; with the breaking of such an unrealistic promise, I find myself unable to truly trust others anymore. I notice myself more isolated than I used to be, cautiously waltzing around any topics that may require me to express how I feel. Sure I can mindlessly talk about my opinions on a movie or show, proclaim my love or hate for a type of pizza, but when it comes to a serious conversation about life, I will always be quick to make a joke and brush the topic aside as quickly as possible. That is just my way of coping with mistrust, laughter and sarcasm. This is clearly unhealthy, and the typical response is always the one that makes the least sense; talk to someone about it.

Talk to someone? Like a person, who I must first TRUST enough to share personal feelings with? That sort of logic is always, and I mean always, met with heavy amounts of sarcasm. I find no trust in paying another human to listen to my problems, ergo any sort of psychologist or therapist is out of the question. I also don’t find pleasure in talking about serious issues with family members, as I tend to find the conversation more akin to a debate between two opposed political parties with vastly opposite and radical viewpoints. So then the last bastion of hope would be friends. Since her passing, I’ve not once sat down and honestly expressed how I feel about the situation with anyone I truly call a friend. It is not a lack of their part, but rather, my own disinterest in being that open and exposed with someone, regardless of how good a friend they are. This problem of course was the burden I tossed onto my mother. She was the person who I trusted with all my secrets, all my fears and worries, all my pain and my happiness. She was the only person that at the end of the day, no matter what, would be neutral and open to listening to whatever I had to say.

I recall spending hours just sitting on the couch while she watched television and just talking to her about random ideas I had in my head. I would go on imaginative rollercoasters that borderline insanity, and she would sit there, giving me snarky replies and realistic advice. Ultimately, she was my mother, and best friend. When someone who’s that close to you breaks a promise, it affects you. Regardless of what the promise was, being hurt by that person is worse than being stabbed in the back by one-hundred acquaintances. The way I see it, if even my own mother could break my trust, then surely everyone else at some point will as well. However, if I don’t give them anything to break, then nothing will get broken. So I sit and stupidly hoard all my trust, like a child unwilling to see the benefits in sharing, scared of what might but not necessarily could happen.

I am not sitting here trying to pander for someone to trust. I know that there are those in my life that I should trust enough to talk about how I feel with. The problem is just in learning to overcome that deep cut that you never expected to happen. I honestly wish I knew the answer, I would probably be happier if I did. The only thing I know is that at some point, there will come I time when I can’t keep bottling up everything. At some point the pain will begin to rot away at me, crawling on the back of my every thought and action. Slowly tormenting me until I can no longer handle listening to the things I should have gotten rid of years ago. I hope that I can find a way to overcome my trust issues, but until then, I just have to do my best to keep holding in all the things that continually weigh me down.

Is it fair to say your gone,

When memories of you still remain,

Those left behind are forced to fawn,

With subtle reminders filled with pain,

There are those who move ahead,

Turning loss into a forward push,

Others stuck with thoughts of dread,

Looking behind for Deaths next ambush,

I wish that I could follow you,

Or hear your voice form beyond,

Would you comment on how I grew,

As I hold back the tears while you respond,

In order to truly die,

One must be forgotten,

With those that still cry,

Unknowing your life they have gotten,

I do not wish to say goodbye,

Since you never truly left,

Although your passing I can’t defy,

I will not see your life as bereft.

It seems unusual to say for most people, but to me, it has indeed felt like a year since the passing of my mother. So many things have changed since then. Nothing feels like it has been a rush but rather a slow and tedious process. I am still not satisfied with the result, and probably never will be, but the fact remains that with a year come and gone, I am able to live without the presence of my mother.

It isn’t to say I doubted if I could function like an adult without her, more on the emotional aspect. It was a struggle at first, not having anyone to ramble to freely or get advice when I needed it. Watching as others in the family struggle, and continue to, with her loss. Living in the same home that once housed thousands of memories good and bad.

Over time I felt myself becoming more detached from it all. A less positive feeling compared to moving on, but instead of dwelling, I continued to push forward. I changed the house to be more like my own, I took complete ownership of the dog and I sometimes leave my house more than usual. Things are moving forward, and while there is never time to simply stop and reflect, I don’t mind the pace.

Today, on her anniversary, we plan to spread her ashes as she requested. People tend to say that the event will bring closure, but for me, it will just be fulfilling another request from the past. I still miss my mother, and I still care very much for her. The problem is just finding the humanity in that which is no longer human.

Once a person dies, they leave everything behind. Their body, their mind, everything that makes them what they are. I could certainly have taken my mother’s body and got it to function again, but ultimately that wouldn’t change the fact that what made her who she was had long since left. It is that notion that brings me solace. I know that she is no longer here, not in any physical capacity, and that itself brings closure.

Looking back on the year, there are still things I wish I had differently. The way I handled the funeral, the way I spent my last moments with her, and of course, outwardly dealing with the feelings boiling inside me in the moment it happened. I cannot go back and change these outcomes, and with the choices made, I find myself less interested to change those actions more and more.

I feel that losing someone always changes a life. No matter how small a role they played in it, people’s mindset alter when they hear or witness the loss of a person close to them. It is how people handle that information that dictates if their passing carried meaning. With how others seemed to react with her loss, it is good to know that she was thought of fondly, and that she did make a difference in people’s lives.

With the year come and gone, with the changes life has brought, and the plans for the future, there is no longer time to dwell on the past. I will never forget the horrid event that transpired, nor will I lose the feeling of anger and hate I have for the very thing that ended her life. In the end, there is nothing I could have done, or can do, to change the outcome. It is that fact that I must accept, and use the feelings left from that very event to push myself to do the things that need to be done.