Ten years ago today
I was just a girl
Ten years ago today
I heard strange sounds


It was a hot, summer day on August 30th, 2007. I was seventeen years old. I remember that I had stayed up all night re-reading A Walk to Remember, and didn't fall asleep til about six in the morning...

The sound of a radio transmitter beeping startles me awake; I gaze outside my window and realize that it’s mid-afternoon. The beeping gets louder, as well as some muffled voices coming from outside my door. I get up off of my bed and open the door, startled to see a room full of emergency workers. A police officer turns towards me and reads my facial expression. “Do you live here?” he asks. It takes me a minute to answer, because I’m still trying to understand what’s going on in my living room and why there are so many people. I come to for a moment and nod, before looking towards my mother’s room, seeing her sitting up, being examined by an EMT.


Ten years ago today
I saw you
On your bed
Looking pale


We live in a two-family household on the bottom floor; the amount of people in the room is making the air escape from my lungs. I can feel a panic attack coming on. The police officer is still talking to me, but his voice sounds so far away. He raises his voice slightly and I look at his face. “Do you know this woman?”

I was confused by his question. Of course I knew this woman. Why else would I be standing here in my pajamas? She is my mother. “I’m her daughter,” I tell him, quietly. My eyes couldn't leave my mother’s face; her naturally golden fair skin and pinkish cheeks were disguised by a mask of pure white. Our dog was draped across her lap, protecting her. He was not being vicious, but was feeling just as as scared as I was.

A fireman looks at me - “Do you mind putting your dog in a different room?” I nod again. I had to have been dreaming, this doesn't seem real to me. Why are they all looking at me like that? I go towards my mother’s room and take my dog by the collar, bringing him into my bedroom and shutting the door. I walk back into the living room, noticing now that they have lifted my mother up in the standing position; two firemen were on each side of her as they walk her out into the living room. Panic suddenly arises from me, “I…I should call my father. My father needs to know…my father…” One of the female EMT’s looks at me and says, “Don’t call your father; she’s going to be fine.” At this point, my upstairs neighbor had come downstairs to see what was happening. She almost starts an argument with the EMT, but I give her a pleading look of telling her not to, and she lets out a sigh saying, “Call your father now.” The EMT scoffs and walks out the door. I'm gonna call my father because his wife is sick, you heartless bitch.


Ten years ago today
You called for help
They took you away
I couldn't say goodbye


As my mother's being led to the gurney outside, I can hear the light shallow breaths that were coming from her lips. It starts to terrify me. I stand by the door, watching her get loaded into the ambulance. The last male EMT that was outside looks up at me with his notepad, “Has your mother had any history of abusing prescription drugs?” My mouth falls open. I want to hit him. How dare he accuse my mother of abusing her medication? I take in a deep breath and say, “No, but she has had three prior heart attacks.” He just looks at me, reading my face, realizing that I wasn’t joking and that this may be the reason why my mother had called 911 herself. I shut the door to my house, calling everyone who I needed to call, to explain the situation. My father calls to tell me that he was on his way to the hospital. I'm alone in my house. Just me and my dog.


Ten years ago today
I was home alone
The dog by my side
Ten years ago today
I waited for you
To come home


I end up calling a few of my closest friends over. I tell them what happened, and they want to keep me company to make sure I was okay. I couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling in the pit of my stomach that this was the last time I would see my mother. How could I think like that, though? Of course I would see her. She was going to be okay. My friends were making me laugh, and they really helped keeping my mind off of my bad thoughts. At six o’clock that evening, I feel as if I got punched hard in the stomach. The air escapes my lungs and I gasp for it back quickly; the feeling is unbearable, terrifying. I wrap my arms around my middle and lean forward, making sure that my friends don't see the agony I was in.

After a few moments, that feeling dissipates, until it’s finally completely gone. I convince myself that I'm probably just stressing myself out, making myself nervous…until the phone rings. I look at the clock on the phone. It reads 6:30 PM. I answer it, hearing my father’s voice. My strong father sounded so broken. “I need you to stay home.”


Ten years ago today
Daddy called
He told me to stay home
You weren't coming home


“What’s wrong? How’s Mom?” My heart rate starts to pick up, and my palms begin to sweat. I hear him intake a shaky breath as he speaks again. “I just need you to stay home. I’m in a cab. Just please stay home.” I begin to grow angry. I grip the phone tightly in my hand, “What’s going on? How’s Mom? Where’s your car? Daddy, why won’t you tell me over the phone?” I hear a cry in his voice, “Baby, just please…I’m on my way.” I hang up the phone, tell my friends what’s going on, and after a few moments, my father comes through the door. He looks at my friends with a look of desperation; he apologizes and asks them to just go into the kitchen for the time being. My bottom lip begins to tremble as he comes towards the couch, his eyes all red and puffy. I know he had been crying, so I say, “Where’s Mom?”


Ten years ago today
"She's gone."
Ten years ago today
I SCREAMED UNTIL MY LUNGS BURNED


He begins to break down. “She’s gone.” I shake my head at him, I push him away from me, and I scream. “No! You’re lying! I don’t believe you! You’re lying!” My father shakes his head again, repeating that my mother was gone. I throw myself off the couch and start to scream, "FUCK! NO! FUCK!"


Ten years ago today
My soul was ripped apart
Ten years ago today
I felt like I was dreaming


I tug at my hair and begin pacing. I run into the bathroom; my legs feel like gelatin. My legs start to give out until I hear my friend’s voice behind me and feel his arms around my waist to stop me from falling. His mouth is near my ear as he hugs me close, telling me to breathe. I let out a scream again. He hugs me even tighter and tells me that he will be back with my friends later, so he can give me and my father some time.

The tears wouldn’t stop spilling from my eyes. I call so many family members and friends that I forget who I'm speaking to and I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be telling them. By the time I'm done calling everyone, people are showing up at my front door - at first, three family members and two close friends. By the time nine o’clock rolls around, my house is filled with fifteen people. I didn’t think my body could produce any more tears, and the swarm of people in my house was starting to get to me. “I need to get out of here,” I say, letting out a growl through my teeth.


Ten years ago today
My heart formed a hole
It hurts, Mama


I started smoking cigarettes that day. I couldn’t fathom what was happening; I didn’t understand why it was happening. I never had a chance to say everything I needed to say to her. Did she know? I never had a chance to tell her how much she meant to me and how much I loved her. That whole day, I swear it was all a dream.

“I’m gonna wake up from this tomorrow, and it will just be a nightmare, right?” My friends go silent as they turn towards me; a few of them hug me, not uttering a word. The scariest part of it all is, I start to believe that the feeling I had earlier in the night of being punched in the stomach, was her letting me know that she was gone. I felt as though I died with her. A large, gaping hole was in my chest and it could not be filled. I was a walking corpse. I couldn’t even say goodbye to her.


Ten years ago today
You were supposed to come home
Ten years ago today
My life changed forever
The ground beneath me shook

Ten years ago today
I died with you
Ten years ago today
I was just a little girl
Who lost her mother
and had to face
the demons on my own.


Grief is such a strange thing. I don't remember what I ate yesterday, but I remember the death of my mother like the back of my hand. You never think that, within a split second, your parent is just gonna be gone. I blinked, and my mother was gone. She was dead and I would never see her again. Losing her was one of the worst things in my life. I had to learn to live without her; I had to learn to become a woman without her. I am now twenty-seven years old. I dreaded this age because it was one step closer to a decade of not having her. I learned a lot from losing her. I learned to love more. I learned to never hold a grudge even if you are extremely angry at the person. I learned to always say "I love you", because you don't know if those will be the last words someone hears. I learned to love myself. I learned to take my mother's voice and use it as mine to be heard. I learned to love nature and everything around me.

I did this all as a Motherless Daughter, but I did it with her guidance. She's still my mother; she may be physically gone from this world, but she is forever with me. That hole in my heart made a space for her. Days will get easier. Hey, I made it ten years without going completely insane, and I think I'm pretty okay now.

I will forever miss my mother. Her cackle of a laugh (which I have), her quick wit, her hugs. Oh God, those hugs.

If I just close my eyes, I swear I can feel the warmth from those hugs and you know what? I'm still going.