Nichole Landaverde reflects that death cannot separate us from those we love.
by Nichole Landaverde
I’ve never given thought of how life without a mother would be. Kids are supposed to outlive their parents. But why at age thirteen did I feel the need to “grow up.” I have a father, I have a brother. I just had this distinctive bond with my mother. I mean she gave birth to me. I am half of her. No, I’m not exaggerating. I just never feel whole. Always hoping she is the next person to walk through the door. I know people go through worse, but it’s appropriate to be narrow-minded at times.
It was all so sudden, one moment she was peacefully watching TV, next moment red lights were flashing outside our home. I avoided focusing on her lying on the paramedics’ bed as they took her. Deep down I knew something was out of the ordinary. She has gone to the hospital by ambulance before, but I never felt this feeling. I was the one who had to contact my father, to describe the last half-an-hour. I felt achy and gnawy, trying not to concentrate on what could possibly be going on in the hospital.
Waiting at my home for what seemed like days was unendurable. I tried contacting my father but caught the answering machine each time. I knew something was off-target as soon as he messaged me back. He never texts me. It was stinging as he walked in with swollen red eyes. I knew he was tender, but I found myself not caring. I hugged him anyway, feeling as if I were the parent comforting a child. No words can describe his appearance. All I could think was, “what the fuck?” She had an artery clog, also called a heart attack. She had trouble breathing normally as she lay on the bed. My aunt accompanied her to the hospital. It is hard to this day to even communicate with my aunt about the last minutes she spent with her sister. Why ask, do I really want to know?
It’s not that I didn’t believe the news of my mother passing away, but why? I did understand the concept of death, even of her life ending. Everyone dies at some point. That’s the thing about death; it has its own time.
I don’t dream of her. I don’t talk about her. I write to her, stacks of unread letters to her. It’s difficult to think of a future without a mother’s unconditional love.
Do I cry? Move on? Either way, nothing’s going to bring her back. I see the effect she left on my father. His light is gone. He moves so weakly. Before she died, he woke up joyfully singing the same song every morning. He is a happy-feel person. But now he always has a worried look. I can’t say I don’t feel empathy, but I certainly feel his sympathy towards me. That’s not what I want. I don’t talk to him unless it’s about sports or cars. I’ve lived with my father and brother for more than two years now, and every day I crave girl talk. I see characteristics in me that weren’t there before. Is it terrible to feel a little relieved? She knew secrets that I was ashamed of. Knowing she would never speak of, but I worried she thought differently of me. That doesn’t make it right.
My brother is shut down about his feelings—laughing all the time, like always. Knowing there is bitterness deep down in both of us. I know I’m not the only one who felt. I’m reminded every damn day of her due to my personality, which I’m grateful to have received. She has affected everyone she knew so much, we all speak more wisely with her words. She’s not gone.
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Photo by Dave Parker