2023 Thoughts

December 31, 2023

I’ve been meaning to write something for a while now. I planned to write a blog post in the last two weeks of October, but it was a hectic time. As I was narrowing down topics of what to write my mom unexpectedly passed away. There are a lot of things I could say about that or just grief in general. Over the last 2 months (and it’s crazy that it’s only been that long) I have learned a lot about it.

For me grief has been unexpected moments triggered by sadness, or memories that feel so real that I haven’t thought of them in quite some time, followed by waves of pain and heartbreak. Sometimes I feel peaceful but the next day I can think about the same thing and feel shattered. I wish I knew grief’s calendar so I could plan accordingly. Knowing I will never see my mother again in this life – hearing her laugh or having her encourage me like only she could. It breaks my heart, but I’m also so grateful that she was my mom. So much of my personality is a direct correlation to hers and I wouldn’t be the same without her in my life. I am thankful that for the 35 years, I had her as my mom. She loved me fully and unconditionally like only she could. I’m also fully assured that she’s in heaven. My mom loved Jesus so much and accepted him as her Lord and Savior when she was 30. My mom’s faith was not just something she believed but something she lived. She was quick to pray for and encourage people. She lived with the love of Christ. Two things can be true. I can have peace knowing that my mother is in heaven singing her heart out and making Jesus laugh while still sad that my moments on earth with her have ended.

Before October, I didn’t like to think about my childhood at all. In some ways, it was very privileged as my parents made sacrifices for me to grow up in a two-parent middle-class household (the opposite of what they grew up with) and have a private education through high school. But it also reminds me of the loneliness of being an only child, feeling immense pressure to be perfect, and other things that I care to not dwell on in my everyday life. But since my mom passed away, I often feel lost in the past. Recalling all the things I did with my mom and realizing that before I met my husband in my mid-teens, she was my best friend. I spent so much time with her when I was a kid. Whether it was watching sitcoms, laughing, or trapesing around downtown Chicago.

As this year winds down, I remember that there are a lot of good things about this year. The trips I took – like going to Disneyland in January and the 2-week road trip our family took in August, seeing states I’d never stepped foot in before. The people I spent time with, the friendships I deepened. There were beautiful moments. Some of those things are fuzzy because of my mom’s passing. Like the way I feel after giving birth, I had a hard time remembering what life was like before having (insert number of child).

I will say I’ve never felt so loved and supported as I did this past year. I am blessed to have a community of people around me who have shown up for me, especially in the last 2 months. Friends who brought meals or watched my children or texted me to see how I was doing. Those things meant the world to me. Usually, I am the “encourager” in friendship. The one to text first or to make plans first. But I can say I’ve seen that the feelings between me and my friends are mutual. Just like I’ve been there for them, they were there for me.

And then there’s my husband. I’ve always admired him for who he is as a person and his love for me but this year I have a new appreciation for him. He has listened, held, and loved me through my grief all without judgment. Whether I felt angry or despondent, he was there, and his support has not wavered. I’m so grateful for him.

My word of the year is perspective. Since my mom passed away, I find myself looking at things differently and becoming more introspective. Usually, I do a virtual vision board but this year I am in no mood. I don’t have a laundry list of things I want to experience or accomplish in 2024. There are quite a few unknowns in my immediate future and as much as I love and thrive in planning, grief has forced me to slow down and take things a day at a time. Which I strongly dislike but so be it.

A couple of people who reached out to me after my mom passed said after they lost a parent, they were not the same person. I can relate to that. I don’t even look at life the same way that I did before. I feel like I’m in a metamorphosis of becoming someone new. Although I don’t fully know her yet, I do know that she deeply cares about people and is still funny.

I am hoping for a peaceful new year, but I would be lying to you if I said I was ready for it. I’m sad to be leaving 2023 because as difficult as it was, my mom lived in this year, and we talked, and made memories. I’m unsure of how to operate in a year where she’s not there but I’m going to do my best at putting one foot in front of the other and continuing to heal. Happy New Year to you and yours. May it be filled with peace and hope. – Jasmine