On June 9th, 2017, it marked the seventh anniversary of my mom’s death. She hasn’t really been part of my life for the past 9 years since she spent her last two years on earth in a hospice. She got sick when I had just turned 8, so I don’t remember a lot of her when she was healthy and “normal.” The brain tumor, radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery changed her a lot because she also suffered a stroke during the surgery to attempt to remove the tentacle-like tumor in her right frontal lobe. She was paralyzed on her left side for the remainder of her life. The tumor grew back multiple times.

When she died in 2010, I hadn’t visited her on her birthday, which was only more than a week beforehand. I rarely visited her in the hospice. Sometimes, I refused to even talk to her. I was in 10th grade when she died. A lot has changed. I’ve become more like her than I expected, some good, and some bad. I have her love of reading and writing. I have her passion and love for helping others. I have her love for dogs. I have her fair skin. I have her poor eyesight. I have her depression. I have her explosive anger.

My life has not turned out as I expected it – mainly because I didn’t expect to see the day when I was 23 years old. I never expected to make it beyond high school because of my depression. Now, here I am with my Master’s of Education and I work at a college in a Writing Center. I changed my major three times in college. I nearly went to vet school. I stayed at a college close to home. I became involved in peer education.

Sometimes, I have to remember someone actually gave birth to me – that I didn’t just hatch out of an egg or grow out of the ground – I had a mother. I had a mother who loved me and wanted me to be happy. Holy shit, what a concept – to have the person who you lived inside of for 9 months still in your life.

Some people may say I am callous, but I’ve moved on. Yes, I do miss my mom. Yes, I still wish she was alive, obviously. But, I’m able to live my live just fine without her. Sure, it has sucked seeing everyone’s families at graduation or seeing the Mother’s Day posts about how awesome their mom is and how their mom is their best friend. I don’t have that. I’ve grown used to it. Time doesn’t really heal all wounds as the saying says it does, but rather, you learn to live and adapt to the wound and continue on. You grow used to the absence of life that you were once accustomed to. No one ever fills the place of the person you’ve lost – especially the place of a parent – but there will be people that help you along the way who become part of your family.

I don’t want pity. My life was definitely probably different than most people’s upbringings. But, it’s shaped my life. I’ve been fortunate in a lot of other areas in my life – I have a dad who loves me, I have a roof over my head, I have two dogs whom I love, I’ve rescued other dogs, I waterski, I have friends around the US, I can swim a mile, I have a car, and I’ve gone to the college of my dreams. I’ve grown up without my mom. Yeah, it sucks and yes, I miss her. But, I have made a family filled with people whom I adore. I’m always here to listen to anyone who wants to talk. I know there is nothing that anyone can say that makes the pain go away of losing a parent. But, being surrounded by people who care about you definitely helps you to continue to function. Life goes on and so will you. It doesn’t mean you forget about the loved one you have lost – it just means that you don’t let the loss hold you back from following your new and altered path.