I cannot tell you how many times I have said something positive and been regarded as a naive sweet girl. It’s truly a countless event because it happens almost daily. People I encounter think I am so sweet and cute to put a positive spin on bad news. It has nothing to do with how cute I am (even if I am) nor does it have anything to do with naivety.
It has to do with reality and my life experiences.
My mom was the most incredible woman. She took care of me herself as a single mother and always made me feel truly loved. We were an inseparable team and never far from each other. My mom took care of everything for me. If I overdrew my bank account, she fixed it. When I didn’t know how to file insurance forms she did, and she fixed it. If I ran short on money to pay rent, she fixed it. If I wrecked a car, she fixed it. (Don’t get me wrong, she was an amazing mom and I wasn’t really the laziest sloth of a child as I make it sound. I have simply chosen the most extreme and dramatic examples to share.) Bottom line was I never needed to worry because she was better at taking care of me than I was.
Then she got sick and for nine months I was her caretaker. I sat with her one last time that morning and told her “It’s ok to go, I’ll be fine. I promise. You have fought hard and strong and you never gave up, your body gave up on you. I love you so much and am honored to be your daughter.” I was completely awake and unafraid.
Then she died.
Words cannot express waking up the next morning. I cursed at God for letting me live through the night and taking my mom from me. I was so lonely, scared and lost. Having also just had my first child, I needed to get up and get going for her. I found myself completely unable to give a fuck.
Don’t get me wrong, I had suffered from clinical depression for 11 years prior and this was wholly unlike anything I had ever experienced. I truly did not see one reason to get out of bed that morning. My mom, my best friend, my partner-in-crime was gone and life was not even worth my time. I was never suicidal but if you could die simply from misery and pain, I would have never woken that morning. But I did. And it was torture.
Please don’t be offended but regardless of life’s losses death is its own hell. It’s final. It’s definite. And there is never a chance to go back in time again. Nothing else compares to the final answer to it all. Stories of epic awesome love always end in tragedy because the characters have developed a need for each other and a bond deeper than they are prepared to sever. Unless you have ever had a piece of your heart completely ripped out by the death of a close loved one, you probably think I sound dramatic. I would have before it happened to me.
Then she died.
As I lay in my bed, tears streaming down my face I realized just how much she had always done for me and I how I had always just expected the next day because mom’s never die, right?! I faced myself in a real and scary way and realized if I were going to be a mom to my baby, I needed to grow up instantly. I had to find something positive about my mom dying and I remember thinking that now I couldn’t run and hide from anything anymore. I was a grown woman and I had to face the world.
I realized that with my mom here I had never really grown up because I never had to. Now that she was gone I would be able to grow and focus on becoming a better person. I didn’t have a crutch anymore and it was time to prove how badass she was to me by showing everyone the daughter she had raised.
This was my moment. I had forced myself to find one positive thing about losing my mom. And I did. It broke my heart, but I did it.
This made me realize that if I could find one good thing to do each day I could get out of bed. That first day I decided that I would find the perfect red lipstick and take my daughter to a park to play. (Don’t judge, I had extremely limited options since I still did not really give a fuck.) We completed both tasks and then went home for dinner, successful. All I had to do was think of something good each day.
Really forcing myself to get up and make each one of those days fun for my baby made me feel like a better mom and that spurred me on to keep going. Suddenly I had no need for the “Mean Girl” I once was and I started to see the good in pretty much everything. My philosophy from that day on has been:
“My mom can’t die again today so it can’t be worse than my worst day.”
About two years later I lost my grandfather, uncle and father suddenly to heart failure (Yes, all three! How messed up is that?) and this only reinforced my belief in seeking the positive. If it wasn’t for the good in life I would have given the fuck up long before now! Seeing the good has enabled me to get off of depression medications, raise my kids in an amazing stable and loving home and become a true survivor. It has literally saved my sanity and my life and allowed me to become the best person I can be.
But, yeah, call it naivete if that makes you feel better about my positivity.