As a child, I remember seeing my mother as this invincible superhero who could weather any storm completely unscathed.
Although I wasn't capable of completely understanding her strength, I knew it was there.
All of my life, I only wanted to be her.
On July 23, 2001, I was woken up by the police banging on my door.
My mom, a single mother of two children, had gone out the night prior, which she rarely ever did.
She was one of those single parents who had virtually no life outside of her children and work.
She busted her ass to provide for us, and it was a rocky uphill battle.
There was little room for personal amusements.
I was not too naive and young to see how much of herself she had sacrificed back then.
That night, though, she decided to breathe a worry-free breath and go out to the movies.
On her way home, she hit a light pole and decided to get out of the car and go find help.
This was a time when cell phones were a luxury, not a common necessity.
Not a single person stopped. Not a single person was human enough for that.
My heart has been broken since that day, and it is a wound that will never heal.
You would think 14 years would be enough time to heal, move on and grow.
But the fact is, the pain of losing a parent in your youth is something you never grow past.
This is the devastation it causes:
1. You will always miss your parent.
Through the highest peaks and lowest valleys of your life, you will miss him or her.
When you buy your dream home, marry the person you’ve always imagined you would and give birth to your own child, you will miss him or her.
That will never go away.
2. As you become an adult, you will realize how much you are like him or her.
Now that I'm a mother myself, I think back to the times my mom made miracles happen.
She punished me out of love and prayed for me.
She taught me life lessons by just being her.
3. You worry about disappointing him or her.
If I give up, throw in the towel and become a total screwup, my mother is not going to call me with that worried tone and those knitted brows.
She won’t be at my front door, telling me to brush my hair and buy a longer dress.
But with everything I do, I worry about her approval.
What would she say if she was here?
Is she proud of me?
4. People who disrespect their parents piss me off.
I hate to see people treating their mothers like crap.
Yes, I know parents can be irritating, but she is the only damn mother you get.
I wish I had one who calls and texts me constantly because she loves me so damn much.
5. Holidays lose some of their cheer.
She is on my mind every holiday season.
When Mother’s Day rolls around, I am heartbroken all over again.
6. I’ve mastered my poker face when people ask me about my mother.
I don't just tell anyone what happened to my mom.
I don’t bring her up because pity doesn’t make me feel better, and that is all anyone can offer.
But after getting to know me and realizing I never talk about my mom in the present or future tense, people start to wonder.
Over the past decade and a half, I have learned how to explain what happened without crying and by holding my voice steady.
It's like holding my breath for two long minutes.
7. Random crying is totally normal.
Sometimes, when absolutely nothing is wrong, I just start to cry.
Maybe I get reminded of her by a song I heard, a picture I saw or someone on the street.
I start to just bawl.
That sadness can be buried deeply, but it never goes away.
8. Having children is a scary journey.
Being a mother without having my mother here is one of the toughest things I have ever done in my entire life.
The day I gave birth, all I wanted was for her to be there at the end of the bed, telling me to push.
My son will never know her, and that is a deep struggle for me.
Becoming a functioning adult without my mother has been nothing short of challenging.
She can never be replaced.
But I am grateful for the women in my life who have mentored me, guided me, challenged me and dusted me off when I tumbled.
I can only assume she lives through them in some way.