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The Inspiration After Death

How My Mom's Murder Shaped Me As A Person

By Jessica RifflePublished 4 years ago 3 min read

It's not something you really think of as inspiring - Losing a parent. Isn't that when you are supposed to be most despondent and lost? For many it's the opposite, that's the time when your personality is formed. It makes sense in a way, the person who shapes your development disappears so your development changes. However, my own mothers death taught me things I didn't could be taught, basic values that I hold with me to this day.

1. Be Nice To Animals

When she died, my mother had 16 foster cats in her care, was feeding a few strays, and had been helping friends with their food bills as well. My mother always felt that there was time for the animals. In fact, the food that was found the night she disappeared was something that re-assured my family at first, proof she had been around.

It stuck with me that one of the last things my mother did was to be kind to animals. She didn't own any of the animals she fed, but she did care for them selflessly, a skill I hope to one day master. As a child, most of my memories involve animals as well.

2. Trust Yourself

When she disappeared my mother had let herself be talked out of her normal state of alertness. She had listened to family and friends alike convince her that nothing was going to happen. Like many times before, she trusted others over herself and paid the ultimate price. My family has several members who have written memoirs and they all talk about how independent she was until she bowed for those she loved.

I see this as both a reason to trust yourself and to trust those around you. I hope going forward in life that I am always as open and trusting with my partner as I hope she is with herself.

3. Be Yourself

A small town native girl who didn't make it more than 20 miles from the Rez, hiding out in the backwoods of Judith Gap didn't make my mom a particularly free individual. The town she came from still told native women they were too drunk to hold jobs and made jokes about her death. This never stopped my mom from embracing her true self and those around her as well.

In a time when divorce, owning your own business, and living on your own were frowned upon, my mother pushed herself out into the world. Her friends included the queer community, activists, the poorest among us, and so many more. Known for her ability to get out of everything, her strong personality earned her nicknames throughout her life.

4. Never Give Up Hope

In an ugly custody battle and a state with known native adoption issues, my mother dared to dream that I could one day be hers. Through drug addiction, rehab, the struggle of getting a job in a system set against you, and even through the hurdles of the adoption system itself, she fought for access to me until her dying day. It would have been easy for her not to work towards having the Indian Child Welfare act amended to cover children with white fathers, but she still pushed for the changes she knew were possible.

While my mother died before she saw her dream realized, by the time I was old enough to be in school her dream had won out. It was her faith and willingness to fight for myself and our tribe that drives me forward each and every day.

I guess that biggest lesson I learned from my Mother and her death, was the one about my own self. When a parent dies it shakes you to the core, it tears you down in ways you don't even know are possible, but when a parent dies, the lessons that they left suddenly take shape and form an identity you didn't even know you were searching for. My mother showed me that a life lived right is the best life, no matter how short that life is in the end.


About the Creator

Jessica Riffle

33, First Nation's in diaspora from home. Mother of cats. Prone to random relocation and mood changes.Business inquiries; [email protected]

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