Just over a year ago, I got an unexpected text from my dad: "Honey, call me when you can."
If you knew my father, then you would know this text held a certain serious-minded tone, one he rarely used.
Although I never heard him speak the words aloud, it had a chilling effect.
I got up from class and stepped outside the room to call my father. He beat around the bush for only a few moments, particularly to make sure I was sitting down.
It was after those brief moments that he spit out the two most anguishing words I had ever heard. “She’s gone,” he said about my mother.
The only words I could form were "No, no, no, no please, no." I immediately fell to my knees in disbelief, sobbing alone in the hallway for what seemed like forever.
I had never even imagined a world without her in it, until that moment.
It’s these instances in which nothing can prepare you for the amount of immediate pain you feel.
You keep holding your breath, hoping it goes away, but it doesn’t. You keep blinking your eyes, hoping you’ll wake up, but you don’t.
You look at the world around you for something that looks familiar, but nothing does.
The shock of everything is so surreal, you feel as though you’re suddenly living an entirely different life.
It was these first few moments that provoked so much fear that I thought my life would never be the same again.
Many of my friends and family hovered for support, trying to understand and relate to what I was going through, but they just couldn't. Being the very closed off person I am, I kept to myself.
I hid the tears and all the heartache from everyone because I didn't know how to be vulnerable, especially with my pain. I asserted to everyone that I was okay, but deep down I was lost, confused and so, so angry.
Each day following, I was reminded of my mother in small memories. A Counting Crows song on the radio, a "Forensic Files" marathon or just a silly conversation between family members.
Nevertheless, there is always one day in particular I'm reminded of her the most: Mother’s Day.
Many people have dealt with the grief of losing a parent or loved one, and they are very familiar with the foreshadowing of pain that usually follows Mother's Day.
It's difficult to convince yourself to celebrate this day the same way, since many people (myself included) have since considered themselves to be "motherless."
In the past, this day was always one for admiration and love; it was a day that encouraged you to show your gratitude for the woman who brought you into this world.
But after you lose a parent, it almost seems as though the day's only purpose is to remind you of your loss.
Mother’s Day took place a mere three months after my mom passed away.
It was almost unbearable to function at school, listening to people gush about their gift ideas for Mother’s Day. Some people even forgetfully asked about mine.
As I would scroll through my Timeline, I was forced to see the many pictures and celebrations from others. I was unable to share the same words and moments with my mother.
Before she passed, I hadn't considered myself to be a heavily religious person. I was always driven by curiosity, and facts and science answered my questions.
However, as soon as I lost her, I knew I had to have faith.
You see, the hardest part about all of this is the idea that she really will miss everything.
Wedding, first child and all those other silly moments you never noticed were important until you couldn’t share them with her.
All of these tribulations make it easy to resent a holiday like Mother’s Day; a day where others are filled with love, comfort and happiness.
It is a day many people take for granted because they no longer revel in it with the same contentment.
As time passes, however, you learn to cope with these emotions and although no amount of time could fully heal a wound so deep, it does allow you to find strength.
Strength that will heal you in more ways than you could ever imagine. It allows your pain to reinforce you, not define you.
And although this process is very different for many, strength allows some of the beauty in life to creep back into your view.
It transforms your grief into serenity, fear into assurance and hopelessness into promise.
As Mother’s Day approaches this year, I ask you to keep those who have lost their mothers close to your heart.
I also ask that as you rummage through the aisles of stores this year for the “perfect gift,” you remember that you are the best one they could ever ask for.
Spend those last few extra moments on the phone with her; fold the clothes on the dryer the first time she asks you to; listen to her terrible music because you know it makes her happy.
My deepest regret is that because I was so blindsided, I didn't know our last conversation would be just that: Our last. No one is guaranteed another day, so please, remember to make it count.
To all of those who have lost a mother, parent or loved one, know this: They are not lost, and we are not motherless.
Celebrate this day even more so than before, for both her and you. Rejoice her life, her light and your fondest memories of her.
Remember she has a front row seat to your life and know she wouldn't dare miss even the slightest instance of it.
Lastly, to my beautiful and courageous mother: Happy birthday and Happy Mother's Day. Thank you for contributing so incredibly to the person I am today.
You have given me more strength than most could ever hope to attain in a lifetime, and I am forever grateful for that.
We all hold a very special place in our hearts for you that will never be replaced. You always promised me I had guardian angels watching over me, and I'm more sure of that now than ever before.
I love you so much, and I look forward to the day I can see your smile and hear your laugh again.
Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers out there!
Enjoy this day with your loved ones. You deserve it.