Filling the Empty Space.

I have experienced writers block like some kind of disease, stunting my thoughts, keeping me from my keyboard, making my head feel dizzy at the mere thought of stringing together some meaningful words. It came on slowly as my mom began to lose her 2 ½ year battle with Pancreatic Cancer and secured itself to my being once she passed away.

An empty space…perhaps one I am fearful of filling.

There are so many devastations when you lose your mother. No matter how prepared you are, how grateful you are for the time you had time to say goodbye, to share all the love you have in your heart for her, no matter how long she had suffered. And no matter how certain you were that moment you held her hand and said, “You can go Mom. I promise we will be alright.” Devastation still comes.

At first there is a shallow wave you ride that whispers she is free of pain, feeling whole and grateful for who she was when she was here. But then the emptiness fills you up again. If you are an optimist like myself, there is a constant wavering from ‘I’m ok’ to ‘No I’m not’, from ‘I can make it,’ to ‘I don’t know if I can survive this loss.’

Actually, it isn’t really a voice that says I’m not okay…it’s a voice that yells constantly in the back of my head screaming, ‘Where is my mama??!!

It yells so loudly that sometimes it I don’t recognize it as a sudden scream at all from the back of my mind, but a constant straining to hear my rational self explaining that she won’t be back soon, begging me to accept what is so. In between that, I can hear my children call for me, my husband wanting to share his own stories and my world needing me to be focused. Yet all the while, there is this constant crying in the background, a little voice pleading for a little more time.

Sometimes it is almost unbearable. The loud shrieking that only I can hear, yearning to touch her hand, hear her voice; smell the sweet scent of her skin. It is so loud that often I see people speaking to me yet barely hear their words at all. Hearing whispers of comfort…yet hardly feeling comforted at all.

And yet, there are many other moments I am able to function just fine. Attending to my life, my powerful work as a Life/Business Coach, being a mother of 4 amazing children, standing as a loving and devoted wife. It is in those moments I am clear that what my dad says is true, “life is for the living” and that is the only option we have. It makes sense while I say it out loud, and even when I repeat it quietly to myself as I try to sleep. In fact, it is what I often share with others.

We go on…because we have to. We need to. Because it is what life is truly about.

I feel so strongly about what I believe; my optimism and way of living. It is, after all, what I have learned from my mother. It is who I have become because of who she was to me. It is one thing that remains true to me even on the 5th month anniversary of her passing.

Yet some nights, when things get tough, when people in my world have their own demons and seem to be yelling in my direction, when my body feels just to heavy to carry on…I cry. I sob actually. I find a dark room, a space where I can be alone, curl myself in a ball, and sob. I am not interested in imposing my darkness on others during this time. I am not yearning for someone to fix this. To help me gently back into the light, to tell me that it will be all right. I simply want to be alone. To drown out the yelling in my head, long enough for me to cry. Long enough to feel the pain of her loss and be with the emptiness.

To just be.

That is what happens. I get to just be. I plead, beg and sob. And simply practice being. And when I can’t stand to hear myself beg for what is not available any longer, I open my phone. I find the video when I interviewed her just 2 weeks before my wedding. She looked perfect and poised as always. Her hair growing back just in time for the event, with her tiny curls and most convincing smile. She was already a Pancreatic year survivor at that point and living on created time. Time they told us we would not have. But we did. I watch and listen to her and pretend she is here. I feel in that moment, that she is. I believe. With all my optimism…I believe.

When it stops, I open the next ritual video: My two oldest boys at the beach…15 years ago. Their sweet voices, caring for each other, trusting each other, wanting desperately to show me their little hermit crabs they had found. I inhale deeply memorizing the sound of these babies I have created. I allow myself to dry my eyes. Unroll from the tiny ball I have curled into…and embrace who I have become.

This is the space I need to fill. The space she has left deep in my heart that fills a little more each day with all that she has given me. Essentially, I am her. I live and breathe her passion and spirit, her finish line desires, her ability to love. I stretch myself a little further and acknowledge the strength she has given me and know exactly what to do with that empty space. Fill it. For her. For my family. For me. And even for all of those that don’t even know me yet.


I step into her clothes again as I do most mornings and am amazed at how they fit. I see her face and can hear the song playing in the background now as it drowns out my demons: I am Woman Hear me Roar…

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