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Remembering Mom – 1 year anniversary


Today marks one year since my mom’s soul left this world and entered another. A lot of people have been asking me how I feel so here are a few of my thoughts:

In a lot of ways, today feels no different than any other day. I think of my mom daily. In fact, I think about her several times a day, and as I told my husband not too long ago, I feel as though she is a constant background to my thoughts. She is always on my mind, whether I am thinking about something in specific or whether I am just missing her presence. I plan on writing a separate post on the things I learned about how to support someone through grief, and one thing that I will include, is that you never need to worry about bringing up someone’s loss for fear of “reminding them” and making them sad. When you lose someone special, they are always on your mind, whether people bring up the topic or not.

At the same time, today does feel like a special day to me. And that’s because it marks the day my life changed in a very big way. In the same way that my birthday and the birthdays of my friends and family will always be special days, February 4th will now forever be special to us, and will be a day that we will always set apart to collectively and intentionally remember mom. I tried to think about what my mom would want us to do today, and all I could really think was that she would want us to spend time together as a family, strengthening our relationships. This is one wish that she spoke of often during her last few years, and one that I plan to honour.

In my culture, as in many others, the first year is the official “grieving period”. It doesn’t mean that the grieving ends after a year, but just that the first year is a very special one. We hold a commemoration 40 days after the day of death, and then another one on the one year mark. There is even a special saying that you say to those grieving on the days of those commemorations. Translated to English it means “May you continue to live and remember”. I think that is a beautiful saying, and in general, I have found these cultural traditions to be a huge help throughout this first year when everything seems new and foreign and nothing else really makes sense. Sometimes, it’s nice to have some guidelines that take a little bit of pressure of decision making.

In this last year, I also struggled between finding the balance between grieving and going on with my life. Does grieving mean that you are not supposed to feel any joy? Or should I think that mom would want us to continue to be happy and go on with our lives as much as possible? I struggled with this question a few times over the course of this year: on my 30th birthday, at Christmas, and just recently, when I learned my husband and I were expecting a new baby(!). The answer hasn’t been fully answered in my mind, but I have learned that it is impossible to stay in a permanent state of grief. Even if you try, life passes by, other people get sick and pass on, and if you don’t move beyond yourself and your sadness, you will regret celebrating all the joys that life does bring our way. You will also regret honouring the life that is around you, because it too will one day end, and you will have been too busy stuck in your own little world. So – with that, I’ve strived to find a sense of balance between grieving my mother’s loss and trying to enjoy the life around me at the same time. It’s a tough balance I tell you.

Finally, one thing that has brought me peace this entire year has been the thought that a person’s memory really does not end with their earthly death. My mother has truly left us with so much. She has planted in me more than I could describe here, and it brings me so much comfort to know that that will never die.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading, and for being along on this journey with me.

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Birthday thoughts


Yesterday I turned 29.

More than other years, it seems that there is so much to reflect on since this is the last year of my 20s.

I’m the type of person who reacts to birthday milestones a little prematurely. Turning 24 was a big year for me because I was almost 25 but turning 25 wasn’t such a big event because I had already internalized it the year before. Now, since 29 is proving to be a big year for me, I anticipate that next year will not be too much of a shock.

Though I’m not a huge birthday person, I do feel the need to mark each passing year of my life in some way. This year, I entered my 30th year in a big hug with my husband. As we hugged and the clock turned to midnight, I thanked God for all he has brought me in my life in general, but especially in the past year and the past decade. As I begin a new chapter, I am conscious of all the wonderful things that I am blessed with.

In this past decade I started and finished 3 university degrees; I started and ended a relationship, which was probably one of the biggest journeys into self-discovery that I have ever experienced; I met and married my husband and wonderful life partner, which has been an incredibly intense and rewarding experience; and I held a number of jobs which all contributed both to my personal and professional development and through which I have met some of the people who are today my best friends (you know who you are!). I’ve also been blessed to have traveled and seen so much of the world while also meeting new people and experiencing different perspectives on life. Among the many travel highlights were the time I swam in the bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico, meeting my sponsored child and going on safari in South Africa, as well as our 1 month honeymoon in a beautiful and remote Italian mountain-top village. Oh, there have been so many memories. I’ve also taken up new hobbies, one of which is writing this blog (thank you for joining me on that one).

Thinking back on all of these experiences makes me realise that what I take from them are not only the memories, but how they have helped me to discover so much about myself and the world around me. This decade has taught me above all to become comfortable with and excited about who I am and where I want to go. I have learned to face my fears and bounce back from pain and heartache. I have learned the importance of having fun while also being wise and intentional.

This morning, J told me that 29 was a wonderful age because I have the knowledge of who I am while still being young and being able to do all of the things that young people do. I think he’s right and I intend on enjoying and taking in every minute of this year (the good and the bad).

20s, you’ve given me a lot and I’ve really enjoyed you; I’m going to miss you when we part ways next year but I’m almost starting to be ready to meet 30s. Here’s to our last year together – I know it will be special.