By: Cindy Stepanek
I am a motherless daughter; my story is of a double loss. I physically lost my mom to poorly treated breast cancer with metastasis to the brain, when I was 34 years old. Although it is hard for me to admit, my mom was emotionally absent most of my life. The first words I can remember hearing her say to me were of rejection. She had just returned home from the hospital after having my baby brother. As I tried to crawl into her lap she pushed me away and angrily said, “Go away, I don’t want you. I don’t have room for you.” This message was repeated over the years along with other devastating comments like: you are ugly, stupid, and you will never amount to anything… Her last words were just as devastating as the first. I can still hear them echoing in the dungeons of my memory. “Go ahead and go, you have been annoying me for the last 27 years, today shouldn’t be any different.”
A few days later I walked into her hospital room that night on a mission to make peace. Deep down I knew that I only had days to accomplish what we had not achieved in a lifetime. I looked at my mom unresponsive as she faded into the sheets. This shell of a woman was my mom, and I had no idea how to handle this. Continuing my part of the peacemaker dance, I apologized for all my failures, disappointments and anyway I had not met her expectations. I listened to her breathe and waited for her normal response but it never came. Silence, silence and more silence, nothing moved except her chest as she struggled to take her last breaths.
No longer able to bear the deafening silence, I ran from her room and kept running for 22 years until my life was turned upside down. I am a stuffer and the time had come. My garbage heap of pain, guilt, anger, disappointment and feelings of abandonment erupted and could no longer be hidden. The journey to healing had begun.
My life wasn’t bad and I am actually thankful for it. Sandwiched in between my first and last memories were glimpses of a potential for a good relationship. These precious times kept me hooked on the hope that someday my dream mom-daughter relationship would come true. That never happened. Our relationship was like a well-practiced dance and each of us knew our part. In this dance my job was to return a few days after her hateful words and try to appease the angry dragon. I still love and miss the good times I had with my mom.
I would love to say that there is an end to this journey called “Mother Loss,” but that would be a lie. Once you enter this journey it is for life. This is a journey that we can only share with other women who have paid the entrance fee, the loss of a mother.
Feel free to join me on this journey and share your mother loss story.