Every morning I wake up and strive to honor the empty seat in my life...the seat left when Pancreatic Cancer took my mother from me far too early.
Marchia Gault Williams was a light in the world for many, but she was first and foremost to me...my mom. The past year and a half for most of you reading this have happened as normal(normal-ish), but for me they've been marked with a terrible pain that sits in my chest every single day. I still reach for the phone to call her after work some days when I "forget" that she's not going to answer. I take moments away just so I can let my emotions crash and feel the thing that I avoid. I have a framed piece of art from her apartment I walk by every morning and when I see it, I see her. I have a picture of us in my office that stares at me every day so when I need to see her, I can. I hate grieving, but what I've come to learn most is that it's hard to grieve when you are grieving your person. My mom was my world. I talked to her almost every day after work and though I couldn't always make visiting her work...oh the stories I could tell you of our UHAUL adventure from Atlanta to San Marcos or the wonderful weekend we shared in Oxford, Ohio.
If you asked, I could also run down the list of all the ways I didn't do right by my mom. I should have taken that extra time to go see her last Christmas, because it would have been my last one. I should have been more thoughtful at birthdays, I should have sent flowers more than I did, and on....some nights my mind is full of nothing, but the should have done list. This is the harder part to deal with because I have the memories of the wonderful times, but nothing will take the regrets.
Grieving is a process as unique as the person experiencing it and in my grief I wrote a list of lessons my mom taught me that felt like it should be shared. She taught me so much more than these three things, but these are the three that I think the world could use. There are dozen more and maybe in time I can share them, but for now these three are
Love with all you have: My mom throughout her life did everything for those she loved. From the birthday parties, the signs in the front yard to celebrate accomplishments, to the holiday packages (yes you can create a basket for almost any holiday, trust me) she sent. These are all choices of love. A love so deep and enduring that it found moments to celebrate in darkness and was so selfless. A love that made sure every house girl had a present when they moved in and that there was a fun box sent to her children for every holiday.
You need to help others: My mom made a career of helping others. Whether it be working for non-profits or being a house mom, she was there for those who needed her. I couldn't tell you when the cancer started, but I can tell you that she worked through pain her whole life. Her father was sick so she drove from Atlanta to Lufkin and ended up damaging her Achilles tendon and was in pain, but she knew she was needed. She was sick at times in the sorority house, but when the girls needed her, she would be there to take them to class or pick them up from that party they didn't feel safe at. She paid her rent on this planet thirty times over even though her life was cut short.
You aren't guaranteed tomorrow: The hardest lesson I've learned from my mother has come from her death. On September 3rd, 2016, at 8:30 am, she called me to say she wasn't feeling well and was going to the Urgent Care. A couple hours later she was going to the E.R., and at around 1 o'clock she called me saying we needed to call some people and that phone call ended with her asking me "if this was all fatal." Those words still bounce in the back of my head. My answer was no, but ten days later my beautiful, strong, and resilient mother left this world. The likelihood of you walking outside tomorrow and getting hit by an actual bus is small. The chance of you going to the Dr. and finding out you life is changed forever isn't as small. A car wreck, cancer, and other tragedies could be second away from ending any of us. My mother lived her life to the fullest and though I know some things didn't get checked off that bucket list....If I can live to be half the person she was....I'll be doing alright.
I miss my mom each and every day. I'll carry her with me and be the best man I can...so that wherever she's watching from....she can be proud of the man she shaped me to be.