Life is never meant to be easy, but I never thought it’d be this hard. At nine-years-old, my mom passed away from a brain tumor. I remember getting the news. The immediate heart ache—it’s a feeling you can’t forget.
It was January 10, 2008. I was sitting in my fourth grade English class when suddenly a voice silenced the room. “Mrs. Brown, Angela Travis has an early..." I sprang from my seat ,grabbed my bag, and shot out the door before she could finish her sentence. I remember going down the stairs, and running down the hall faster than I ever had before. I was nine, and I was leaving school early?! What nine-year-old wouldn’t be excited? I had finally reached the office, and I was ready to go. I turned to take off when my aunt exclaimed, “We have to wait for your sister.” Confused, I turned and sat down.
Wait on my sister? Why? Where are we going? Why does she have to get out early too? Now don’t get me wrong, I love my sister, but usually we didn't get taken out early together. SHE'S HERE! It’s time to go. It was like the last day of school. My sister and I were so happy to be released.
The car ride was silent. Music played, but no one said a word. My aunt drove in silence. I got this feeling in my stomach that something wasn’t right. I knew I had a counseling appointment that day, but my sister didn’t come to these. She had her own, and plus my appointment wasn’t until later in the day. Confused and concerned, I remember asking where we were going as if I didn’t already know we were headed towards Connie’s office, my counselor. My aunt turned with this look as if she forgot I was there. “You have a counseling appointment.” I told her it wasn’t until later, but she informed me that it had been moved. I didn’t think much of it because it happened sometimes.
We immediately entered the room, and I sat in my favorite chair. Connie sat across the coffee table in her chair, my aunt on the couch to my right, and between my aunt and Connie sat Rosie, my sister. Now I really thought something was wrong, because we were all in one room together. My aunt scooted to the edge of her seat. Connie placed some tissue on the table. My heart was racing. What was next? Why was my aunt prepared to cry?
It was quiet. Connie sat up, took a deep breath, and then... “Girls, we are here because your mom passed away this morning.” She continued to talk, but I don’t remember anything after that. It was like a movie. Everything was in slow motion. I felt like I just got punched. My heart felt like it was going to explode out my chest, and tears began to race down my cheeks. I remember shouting “no” as if it was a question. My aunt was trying to hug me as she was swiping her own tears away. My sister sat there in silence. Connie was still talking. So much was happening.
My world was just shattered. My mom was my favorite person in the world. I didn’t believe Connie at first. I didn’t want to. It wasn’t until her funeral when I snapped, and realized my mom was no longer here with me psychically. I stayed home from school for three days before I was told I couldn’t miss anymore.
The day had come. The funeral started. I kept my eyes on the casket the entire time. This had to be fake. There was no way we were all sitting in these chairs waiting to put my mom in the ground. I don’t remember anything anyone said; I couldn’t focus. I studied her chest and stomach for the longest time, hoping that maybe, just maybe, she’d take a breath, and it would all be a joke even if it was cruel. The funeral had come to an end. People shook my hand and hugged me, but my eyes stayed on the casket.
The casket had been closed now and was being lowered into the hole. Images started popping through my head of my mom. I could hear her voice telling me she loved me. I felt empty, lost... scared. My mom always told me to be strong, but I just couldn’t find the strength to smile, and be okay.
It’s been ten years today since such a beautiful person left this planet. It doesn’t get easier. People tell me that with time it’ll be easier, but every year on January 10, I find myself playing Connie’s words over, and over again in my head as images from the funeral pop up. It never fails, and it always seems like it was just yesterday that I got the news.
A letter to my mom:
There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of you. Two out of your six have walked the stage, and I promise you the other four will as well. We miss you & we love you, Momma. Rest easy. 💙