Every day After
A dusty old photo album holds the picture of me wearing a backpack and a nervous smile standing under the big maple tree in our front yard, on my first day of kindergarten. A sense of dread fills my stomach every time I look at that picture, just as it did an hour or so before that picture was taken. I don’t remember much about that day, but I will never forget how I felt when my teacher read us a book trying to comfort a classroom full of nervous kindergarteners; I had been nervous, but unfortunately she didn’t provide any comfort to me. The book was about how it’s okay to feel scared or nervous because as soon as you get home from school your mom will be there to wrap her arms around you. At that moment I realized that all of my classmates had a mom who was there to comfort them and that losing your mom wasn’t a normal part of childhood. Later that day as I walked through the front door of my house, I was reminded, for the first time, and everyday after, that I will never be able to walk through the door to the comfort of my mother’s hug. My mom, Rebecca Lynn Klein, has been gone over eleven years, and there are countless moments in time that serve as a reminder of her absence from my life. I assumed my parents were invincible, but as I grew up, I came to the realization that there’s an end to everything.
At age four my dad sat me down and told me that my mom wouldn’t make it much longer, but at the time, the reality of those words didn’t sink in, and they wouldn’t sink in until the morning of August 18, 2009. I can still remember my dad’s solemn face and the somber tone of his voice as he said what everyone dreads to hear. As I sat there holding my mother’s hand, I thought back to all of the times that she had held my hand while crossing the street. Her hand in mine, my mom struggled for breath until my dad leaned down and whispered in my ear, “Mom just went to heaven.”
“Right now?”, four-year-old me asked. A tear ran down my face.
He wiped it and said, “It’s going to be okay, B.” This was a concept that my young mind was not able to process.
After my dad told me that my mom wouldn’t be around much longer, I tried my hardest to prepare for the day she would leave because I assumed that would be the worst part. Unfortunately, the hardest part ended up being the days, weeks, and months without her which was something I could never prepare myself for. I always envied my friends when they would tell me about a conversation they had with their mom because the only thing I had close to that was a video my mom had made months before she passed away. She had made the video for us to watch as we grew older because we were too young at the time to understand what she wanted us to know. Although my dad mentioned the video from time to time as I was growing up, I wasn’t ready to watch it until August 18, 2016, exactly seven years after Mom passed away. When the TV came on, the first thing I noticed was how different she looked. Her long brown hair now consisted of two inches. I saw her scars she had from her fight with cancer both physically and mentally. At times she looked so weak. Seeing my mom in that much pain was so hard to watch; however, this is not the way I like to remember her. When I think of my mom, I think of how she fought until she couldn’t anymore, how she stayed strong through everything–not for herself–but for everyone else. Watching that video gave me something to hold onto. It gave me something to remember her by, and even though it was a video, her laugh still filled the room just as it did eight years ago. At times it felt like I was sitting down and having a normal conversation with her. She ended the video by saying, “I just want you all to know that I love you very much and you’re my whole world. I just want you all to be happy.” And then the screen went blank and it felt as if she had passed away all over again.
I’m fifteen years old now, and I still watch that video to this day. At one point she says, “It just didn’t seem fair. I don’t get to see my husband walk Abby down the aisle, and I probably won’t be able to see any of my kids graduate.” At this point, that’s what hurts me the most, all of the missed opportunities and memories. She wasn’t there for my first day of school. She wasn’t there to help when I fell off my bike for the first time and scraped my knee. She’s not here now to take me out driving, help me through school, or give me relationship advice. And like she said, she’s not going to see me get my diploma, or watch my dad walk me down the aisle, and my kids will never be able to meet their grandma.
Although the loss of my mom caused me great pain, it has also taught me things that I will carry with me forever. It taught me to enjoy life while it lasts because you never know what is going to happen. Her death taught me to never take advantage of things, even the small things in life. Most importantly, the death of my mom taught me that no matter what happens in life, you have to take that and grow from it instead of letting it bring you down.