My mother was one of the only stable things that I had in my life. We had been through everything together, growing up in a small town, Running a church, living in church, a crazy short lived roller coaster relationship between her and my father, cancer. Everything. In a lot of senses we grew up together, as the youngest of 12 siblings who doubled as a young mother our small family always had a sense of youth about us. There was a lot of things in life that we learned together and that was fine with us. We were the babies of the family and it showed in my mothers spirit. Her unbreakable triumphant spirit. She was my rock and even at the lowest points of our relationship I knew that I could always count on her to be there. Like air she was consistent in her love for us. Never wavering and always our source of life and love when we needed. My mom was the fire behind my ability to dream as big as I do. Although she wasn't always a fan of the unknown if ever I had a grand idea that I needed affirmation on, I would simply run home and enthusiastically tell her all of the details. "Mom!, what if I move to Africa for 6 months and volunteer in Ghana!?" "Mom! what if I become a professional dancer and train in Atlanta?!" "Mom! what if I decided to dance AND act?!" I could always count on her for a sure, bubbly and firm "okay!". I would laugh at how simplistic she would make the answers to my insane day dreamer questions. Strange at how what was once cute and humorous is now the small voice in my head that I hear whenever God puts a ginormous idea or dream in my heart. "Okay." Her anything is possible and always stay positive approach to life is now what I live by. I didn't know then but I know now that my mom was my everything. I see her and feel her in every single thing that I do. I once hated the dreaded "OMG you look just like your mother!!" that I received from anyone and everyone who had ever met her. Now waking up and looking in the mirror is my most cherished thing to do. I see her in all that I am. She is every waking thought, every warm feeling, and every cool breeze. I was blessed to be given such a light. I am blessed to tell her story and to be my mothers child.
The six months leading up to her getting sick were some of the roughest months of my life. I had just turned 26 and was having a quarter life crisis for the books. As a girl who suffers with depression it took every positive thought that i could muster to remember that my 20's were a point in time where I didn't have to "have it all together" of course it was always much easier said then done. My life was forever changing and evolving and every victory came with a set back. I was running full force towards my dreams and taking 3 steps back all the while. Like every other 20 something out there I was just trying to find myself in a sea of clones and as we all know, this "wonderful" adult life is nothing more then a set up. I had just had another giant life change, yet unlike all of the other twist and turns in my life this time I just wanted to go home. If you know anything about me though you know that I LOATHED being home. I loved seeing my family but I lived in LA and sunshine, blue skies, beaches and beautiful people was EVERYTHING compared to the desert small town that I was born and raised in, in Washington. But my heart was tugging at me and I obliged. I packed my things, stuffed the rest of my life in the trunk of my car, quit my job and flew straight home as fast as possible. Of course my mom was waiting for me with open arms more then willing to house me for my stay. We spent two months eating out, visiting family, having late night talks about "when I was gonna settle down and get married" and laughing at the youthful mistakes of my younger brother and sister. It was exactly what I needed and wanted but I still was searching for more. I wasn't fulfilled in my life and I equally spent many days dancing out my frustrations only to cry myself to sleep over my life success's not being up to par with what I thought I wanted. "Im 26" I thought "What am I doing?!" I had plenty of goals and ambitions and I put actions to my words but I was behind in my head. My resume wasn't as big as I needed it to be, I wasn't married, wasn't close, didn't have a house, or kids, and my credit was taking as many steps back as I was. The $3,000 in my savings account wasn't enough and wouldn't last forever and just like every other dancer or young LA dreamer I constantly questioned if I should just quit and do something I hate so that I could love everything else in my life. I wasn't happy, and although much like my mother I looked at the bright side of things I spent way too many days questioning my worth, questioning my talent and being sad about where I stood. The spirit of comparison was creeping in and the Dai that had grown into a confident woman was creeping out. I was dealing with a lot of life stressors and I was letting them all overcome me. I grieved a broken relationship with my father, the death of my friend Marlon, the death of my grandfather 7 months prior and a decade long relationship with a friend. I was happy on the outside but a 4 year old little girl lost and drowning on the inside. No matter how invisible and crazy I felt though my mom seemed to know exactly who I was. Every day she told me how beautiful I was, reminded me how strong and capable I was, complimented my style choices, affirmed every idea that I had, prayed for me and gave me hope that my life would turn out exactly how it was supposed to. "You're not supposed to have it all together yet Dai" she would tell me. "Have fun you're 26! live your life, just take it one day at a time. Just fix one thing at a time" I once asked her how she overcame so many negative things in life and still managed to be everyones light. Her answer has stuck with me to this day, she responded simply, "You take your time, cry it out, get it out. But you can't stay there. You gotta smile sometime. You gotta keep pushing" I trusted her and I let that be my peace.
All of the sudden it was december and a cold had turned into a lung disease. Lung disease became a complication of chemo therapy, complications turned into a week on life support and then she was gone.
Just like that. Everything I had. Gone. My life was turned upside down. My brother, sister and I feel back too comfortably into the roles that we had when she had cancer many years prior and once again I became her back up mom. Devastated was an under statement. I lived for my brother and sister because without them I wouldn't have found a reason. Most days I couldn't breathe. It was as if all of the air had escaped us and life itself had abandoned our small family. I thought that God hated me. If you know any of my back story you know that we've been through and over come a lot. I didn't understand, I couldn't understand and I didn't want to understand. I lived my life on complete auto pilot and only stopped to sleep. The whole time that my mother was in the hospital I told my family that she would be an overcomer. I ignored the terrified looks on their faces because we were lovings. We didn't do fear. We'd survived CANCER for gods sake. I just knew God was doing this for her testimony. She was too young and we were too young and God would NOT do this to us. The month after she was gone was the emptiest month of my life. I needed her to tell me that I was beautiful and to affirm my new ideas. I needed her to remind me that I didn't have to "have it all together yet Dai" and most of all I needed her to tell me that my life would turn out exactly how it was supposed to. I was surrounded by family and as much as I appreciated them and needed them I didn't want them, I wanted her. I wanted the 48 year old superwoman that had raised me. I wanted her to tell me how in the hell a lost 26 year old girl was going to help a 18 and 20 year old get through what I had just started going through. Life was a giant paradigm shift for the worst and I can honestly say that it was my darkest hour.
Coming up again on the anniversary of her home going I find myself smiling every single day that I wake up. Confusing, I know.
No I didn't suffer a psychotic break. Someone asked me recently how it is that every time they see my brother and sister or I how we manage to have Joy after so much heartbreak in our life and I just started smiling again. The thing is, losing someone so incredibly important and huge in your life shows you a couple of things. One being how vital that person was to your existence and the other being how ridiculously blessed that you are. When month two rolled around I got up out of my bed, made myself breakfast, and decided that no matter how hard the rest of my life would be living without my rock I was going to embody every single ounce of strength and Joy that she was. I decided that no matter how hard my lowest moments were I was going to make sure that my highest ones were even higher. I was going to have an insane life discovery type dance party in the storms that I was going through. I would cry, I would scream, I would embrace every negative emotion I had but even more then that I would dance. FULL OUT in my rain storms. I reminisce on not only the good times of such a solider but also of the bad and I constantly find myself sitting in awe and admiration at how she would go through some of the most traumatizing things in life and then be able to smile and laugh through it all. Like me she too lost her mother, she experienced loss, tragedy, and disappointment but still..she smiled I realized in a deep session of thought that some people don't get a mother at all. Some people get mothers and they turn out to be horrible people, or some even get mothers and their mothers leave them to find themselves or to learn to love all on their own. I got more then a mother, I got an angel. I realized that even if I could trade this situation and have a different mom to be there throughout the rest of my life, to watch my kids grow up, to cry at my wedding. I wouldn't want her. As short lived as her life was for mine I would always pick my mom time and time again. I've learned to smile at the thought that I got THAT mom, my mom, my twin, my rock. I smile now genuinely, deeply and purely because of all the moms, I got her. I got AK47 (her nickname from her nieces and nephews) I got the light.
You see I've had somewhat of an epiphany. They say often times when trusting in God is the only choice you have, things seem to fall into place. It couldn't have been any more true. I've decided to let go of every bit of fear and let God do whatever it is that he wants in my life and let me tell you, As angry as I may have been at God he shows me that he is here and real every, single, day. Life will never cease to be unexpected, out of control and crazy. Bad things will always happen to good people and sometimes you will feel lower then low. In hindsight I wish I had spent every single moment being sad about life and questioning my worth with her, with my family. Loving on them and being with them, spending time with the people who matter. Life is entirely too short. I know that now more then I ever have, and I refuse to spend any more time worrying and stressing about things that I cannot control and cannot change. The amount of people that truly and deeply loved my mother was unbelievable. I was overwhelmed with the amount of love and support that came from the lives that she touched and impacted. She never started her own business, never stared in a motion picture, and never topped the music charts. She never modeled in vogue or had her own hit TV show. She was my mom, she was a friend, she was a sister and she was AMAZING at it. This is in no way me telling you that dreams are not important or that you shouldn't aim for the stars, this is me simply saying that who you are now is just as important as who you want to be. I was searching frantically to find myself but it turns out I was here all along. Under the billion pounds of rubble, fire and heartbreak I was here. I am my mothers child and I have decided to embody every single thing that she thought and knew that I was. No more being afraid to be me, questioning my worth and for sure no more giving a DAMN about what people will think. No more losing myself in my career, friendships or relationships. No more crying myself to sleep or comparing myself or my road to anyone else's. I am every heartbreak, love story, tragedy, triumph and beautiful thing that she was. I am her laugh, her joy, her tears and her strength. I am because she was so you'll have to excuse me or get out of my way while I become every ounce of pride that she had for me. Because you see, in my darkest hour I have decided to live.
All in all Ive written this, as a message of hope. To anyone going through what we are going through, trying to find understanding or simply trying to find themselves in this crazy world we live in let me share some of my mothers light with you. You are beautiful baby. In your failures and imperfections You are strong and capable and you are powerful beyond measure. Of course you don't need to hear this from me, deep down you know just who you are. No more questioning it, being afraid of life or your dreams. To every other motherless child like me you don't have to have it all together yet. One day at a time love. & to every one who is blessed to still have that motherly light in your life, love her, cherish her, soak in every affirmation, hug, and ounce of love, remember her laugh and the funny way she tries to crack jokes. Don't stop her when she does that embarrassing dance that you hate, instead make a mental picture because forever doesn't last always. Remember that your mother has lived once without you, but YOU have never lived without your mother. Simply and Purely to anyone reading this please let my story pick you up every time that you fall. I thought my mom was the testimony in all of this. Turns out it was us all along. I hope it gives you the strength that it's given to my brother, sister and I. We are far from perfect, we will have bad days. We will stay in bed sometimes and we will cry more then often, but more then anything we will be a light. We will be our mothers children. I hope that you go out and make ridiculous and amazing memories with your friends, laugh harder with your family, stay out too late and wake up too early. Make your mistakes and recover faster, start your own traditions and stop waiting for life to be perfect to be happy. Go on more road trips and see things that you haven't seen, do more things by yourself and remember that happiness and overcoming is DAILY work. DONT let lifes hardships harden your heart. If you have a choice to be saddened by a situation or to look at the bright side ALWAYS choose up. In every life battle you go through just remember to "Take your time, cry it out, get it out. But you can't stay there, you gotta smile sometime" Just. Keep. Pushing. (:
DaiDream. Be #LovingStrong and most of all make the decision to live.