One of the things I take pride in on Dammit, Hali is my willingness to provide raw, real stories from my personal experiences.CONTINUE READING
I was still living “at home” when my mom passed away in the summer of 2009.
For a long time after her death my dad and I didn’t touch anything in the house; we didn’t rearrange the furniture, take pictures off the walls, or move a single decoration. It’s as if everything was preserved just how she left it and if we moved anything, it made the reality of her absence too real.
I try really, really hard not to think about the “what ifs” in my life, but here lately I can’t ignore the daunting question of “What would my life be like if my mom had survived her cancer battle?”
That’s a tough one, right? And heavy … that’s some heavy sh*t to live with.
It’s impossible to know what exactly would be different about my life, but I know for a fact it would be different if she were still here.
I started blogging in 2015 as a way to talk about my struggles and experiences as a motherless daughter. At the time, my site was called “Roots & Wings,” and I hoped to connect with other women who lost their mothers at a young age and even young girls just beginning their journey as a motherless daughter.
When I lost my mom at 19, I didn’t have anyone to talk to who understood the loss I was experiencing at that age. In beginning this blog, I wanted to potentially be a safe place for young women to turn to if they needed to talk.
I will always remember the first time I received a message from a girl who stumbled across my blog and felt comfortable enough to open up her heart to me. I could relate to everything she shared, and reading her words made me feel like the time and energy I put in to this blog was worth it. If I could be there for one person, it was worth it.
I’m sure you’ve heard about couples who do a “first look.” You know, when the bride and groom choose to go against tradition and see each other before their wedding ceremony. Typically, it’s a private moment carved out in the hustle and bustle of the day for the groom to see his bride for the first time and have the wedding photographer capture his reaction.
My husband and I decided not to do a first look because I wanted him to see me in my dress for the first time walking down the aisle. I also had a little surprise planned for him — I walked down the aisle to his favorite song.
However, I did do a first look with my dad, and it turned out to be one of the most memorable and precious moments of my wedding day.
That is how long my mom has been gone. I was 19 — still a child — when she died in the early morning hours of July 27, 2009.
And when I say that her death was the defining moment of my young life, I mean it. There is not a day that passes that I don’t ask myself, “Would she be proud of me?”
That is a heavy, heavy weight to live under.
I have devoted many words on this blog to talking about losing my mom at a young age. Losing your mother before your life really begins changes you in ways that you don’t fully understand until you’re older and your life is more established.
For me, I realized that even though at 19 I felt grownup, 19 was, in fact, too young.
19 years was not enough time with my mom, and I learned what all motherless daughters come to know — the memories of times past aren’t what is most painful. What breaks your heart over and over is living through all the moments your mom won’t be there for — birthdays, college graduations, your wedding, the birth of your first child, etc.
That is why planning my wedding as a motherless daughter was awful at times. Your wedding and all of its chaotic planning and madness is just something your mom should be there for.
Now that our wedding has come and gone, I can finally share some of the images from my mountaintop bridal portrait session in my hometown of Asheville, NC.
As I mentioned in my 20-day wedding update, I wanted these images to capture exactly who I am — Disney nerd, motherless daughter, mountain girl.
I asked a friend from college who is an Asheville-based photographer to help me achieve my vision, and she did an incredible job — even though the request was kind of last minute.
Hi friends. As promised, here is a quick update of everything we have been doing since my last wedding post at 39 days before the big day.
In life, we all have defining days that make us or break us, or do both. Days that are marked as a distinct line that divides the before and the after.
For me, that day was July 27, 2009, when, in the early morning hours, my mom lost her battle to cervical cancer. There in that hospital room, with her closest family and friends surrounding her, she took her final breath and was finally free of the pain that consumed her for more than a year.
I was 19, had just finished my first year of undergrad at UNC Asheville, and had no idea how her death would impact the course of my life. But the moment my mom took her last breath, my world was forever changed.
He said, “I wish your mom were here.”
Me, too, dad. Me, too.
As the days push forward and my September wedding draws closer, I acknowledge that I am really struggling with my mom’s absence during this should-be happy time.
Wedding planning hasn’t been my thing, and I probably make everything about it 10-times more complicated than it has to be because that is who I am.
But, I think my lack of motivation to finish planning this major life event stems from the fact that my mom is not here to share this time with, and I wish more than anything that she could be.