No one could have prepared me for a life without my mother.

When Mothers Die My personal struggles to cope with my mother's death during COVID-19.
90th Birthday Celebration

My mom would absolutely hate these photos but she didn’t like any photos of herself. Sorry, Mom. I miss you and hope you forgive me for sharing them.

Christmas Eve 2019

Despite our ups and downs, as I purged my mother’s belongings this past year, in doing so, discovered that every knick-knack, piece of clothing, jewelry, and memento had a story attached. When Mothers Die is a heartfelt account of my personal struggles in dealing with my mother’s death during COVID-19.

My mother consulted with me before she bought every piece of furniture in her home after 1978. Her tennis racket tucked away in the closet stored memories of our trips to the U.S. Open and hours and hours playing tennis together. Her pots and pans simmered the meals she cooked for my children. Her golf clubs…I never played golf but I know she tried the sport and had hoped to play again in the future. Mom’s basketball stories of why my grandfather wouldn’t allow her to play high school basketball (the skirts were too short). The tap shoes I found stored in a basement closet are now safely in my home waiting for me to take my first class. I guess you can say that at least at times, we danced to the same tune.

They are all reminders of the degree to which she was a part of my life. We shared a few common traits, the ability to read people and a knack for constant worrying. She was a habitual worrier who thought about every twist in the road before she made a decision.

Throughout my childhood and until the day she died, my mom was with me through the best and worst of times and now she is forever in my heart.

If only we knew the emotional pain that comes with losing a mother, we would probably resolve to spend more time together, particularly when we know the end is near.

My mother died during the pandemic but not from COVID, or maybe she was a casualty of the isolation caused by this wretched virus. I know the worry took a toll on her emotional health. And the risk of transmitting this virus to a 94-year-old woman was nothing less than terrifying. I’m not sure in the long run I would go to such great lengths to protect her if had I known she was in her final days. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

Only recently have I begun to come to terms, at least in part, with the circumstances surrounding her death. The opportunity to spend her last days with her was taken from me because of hospital regulations, despite exceptions in place for families of elderly terminally ill patients. That’s another story. I was finally allowed to see her eight days after she was admitted but by then, she was slipping away and rightly so, angry and scared. She felt betrayed that she was left alone in the hospital to suffer.

On a happier note, to this day, I describe my mother as timeless and not because she lived into her nineties but because she pushed herself to be independent until the day she was admitted to the hospital. My mother gave new meaning to the word, “determined.”

While sorting through boxes, I found a box that contained every article I wrote for newspapers and magazines. There are more than 1,200 news clips and she saved every one of them in the hopes that one day I would understand she was proud of me.

As we arrived today at the first anniversary of her death, I’ve made some strides on the path to a life without my mother although she will always be there coaching me from above. Clearing her personal belongings has been a sorrowful task for me but also a reminder of how much we meant to each other. Maybe she’s next to me but there is no question that she is guiding me to succeed and carry on family traditions.

Takeaway: Honor your mother’s wishes as best you can and you will forever keep her memory alive.

Read my article about finding peace in 2021.

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