Yesterday was March 1st. Up until the age of ten I didn’t have any particular feeling or thought of the month of March, aside from the exciting fact that there would be a week long break from school. Now, when February slowly comes to a close and March starts to creep in, I am still to this day left with flashbacks, memories both good and bad, and a real feeling of how mortal I really am.
Turn the clock back to March 15th, 1993. It was a beautiful wintry Monday, the first day of “March Break”. My mom was babysitting our neighbors, one of which happened to be my best friend. I was ten, life was great and I had nothing but hopes for an amazing week off of school. That day was as I recall a pretty terrific day. Memories of playing in the snow, sliding down “hospital hill” , games, hot chocolate and movies all flood my mind as I look back. I’m assuming that some not so great things happened that day, but my mind has no recollection of that, it is to this day a 100% fun filled loving perfect day.
That night the four of us were sitting on my parents bed I remember getting hungry and wanting a nice big helping of “moms special” (my mom was resourceful and invented that dish one day when she threw together what was left in the pantry and fridge and served it up to my brother and I in hopes that it would be edible. It still remains my most favorite meal ever!). My hopes for a taste of delicious pasta in tomato soup/cheese sauce came to a crashing halt when I was informed that we didn’t have any pasta noodles. I refused to take this let down as a defeat and decided to look around the pantry to figure out a solution. I decided that Ramen noodles should work, so I cooked those…added the tomato soup and cheese and hoped for the best. Needless to say, FAIL! To say it was gross would be a huge understatement. I left the bowl on the kitchen table with a note that read “eat this and you will die!”. Deciding it wouldn’t be worth the effort to try something different I cleaned up and went to bed. My mom ended up eating it, since she didn’t like to waste food. The note I left haunted me for years to come.
March 16th, 1993. Day two of March Break. I wake up, walk out of my room and the first thing I noticed was my mom wasn’t home. This was odd. I asked my older brother where she was and he said she drove my dad to work that morning so that we could have the vehicle for the day. She would have normally been home by the time I woke up but it was winter and roads aren’t always the greatest so we waited. After about thirty minutes we decided to call my dad at work to see if he knew where she was. I remember him telling me that maybe she decided to stop off at the grocery store on the way home to pick up some food. More time passed and my mom was still not home.
Everyday that we weren’t at school and were able to watch Mr.Dress-up my mom would give us kids a piece of gum. I looked at the clock and saw that the show was about to come on so I walked into the kitchen, grabbed the gum, took a piece and passed one to my brother. Then it dawned on me that it was getting pretty late in the morning for my mom to not be there. Again, we called my dad who at this point sounded a bit worried.
At that moment in time for all I knew, she was at the store and running late. At that moment in time for all I knew she would have been walking in the front door at any moment with bags of groceries (hoping for pasta so that I didn’t have to relive the terrible “moms special Ramen style” meal all over again). Looking back, at that moment in time I was still a pretty ordinary, nothing different about me kind of kid.
While sitting in the living room, by our big front window, I saw a vehicle pull into the driveway. I looked out and saw a woman driving, my dad was opening the passenger side door. I ran to the top of the stairs looking down at the entrance, waiting for him to come in.
The front door opens, the image of that is still with me after all these years. I see my dad walk into the house, he looks up the stairs at my brother and I, his eyes were red and I can still hear his voice shaking as he says “she’s gone, mom is gone”. My brother immediately started to break down, I stood there not fully knowing what he meant until I saw both of their reactions and then it hit….my mom was gone, from this world.
My dad walked up the stairs and told us that she was in a car accident. She dropped him off at work and shortly after getting back onto the highway she hit a patch of black ice and lost control of the vehicle, hit a crane and died on impact.
I was in shock. I did not know how to react so I took cue from how my dad and brother were reacting and I forced myself to cry. That’s not to say I wasn’t sad, I was just in a giant pile of disbelief and I wasn’t really sure how this could all be happening.
I remember my dad picking up the phone as he made the call to my grandparents (my moms parents). I remember the conversation being very brief, it’s hard to put the reality into words and function normally. I’m sure it was extremely painful for my dad to have to face his two young kids and tell them that they would never see their mom again only to follow by calling her parents to relay the same information about their daughter.
My dad, brother and I headed to the hospital where we were needing to identify the body. I had NEVER wanted to identify my mothers body, I was terrified and told my dad that I did not want to go down to the morgue. He said that I may regret it, but I knew that seeing my mom, right after being killed in an accident that required the jaws of life to get her out was not something I wanted to see. I stayed in the hospital chapel/waiting area with a family friend while he and my brother made their way to give a positive identification that the body they had laying lifeless was indeed, my mom, Marlene Scott.
It was not the break from school that I was planning on. I was not hoping to spend the last days of that week going to funeral homes, picking out caskets and eventually walking up to my moms body laying there, still, cold and completely empty knowing that this would be the last time I would ever see her on this earth again.
I remember the smell of all the flowers, I remember the floods of people that walked up to me and embraced me. I remember some people not knowing what to say and others trying hard to comfort me by saying “she’s in a better place”. Although this was, and is a true statement, from a ten year old’s perspective the best place my mom could have been was at home, with me.
I suffered a huge loss. My mom was amazing. She never failed to tell me how much she loved me, on a daily, sometimes hourly or even minutely basis. I would hear the words “I love you, Steph” so many times a day that sometimes I would tell her “I know!”. My mom taught me all that she could during my ten years with her. She cared for me in a way that I can only hope to do for my boys. My mom was selfless, I saw her serving other often. It didn’t seem like there was a week that went by where she wasn’t baking bread or cinnamon buns and passing them out to the neighbors. She was kind, gentle and not quick to anger. My mom did not miss any school concerts, field trips or sporting events that my brother or I were in.
Every Sunday morning until we started to attend church regularly, she would have Sunday School for us in the living room. We were taught about God’s love from a very young age and from what I remember and knew of her, she seemed pretty close to a proverbs 31 woman.
Life after my mom was hard. Being so close to someone and then not having them there was extremely difficult. I hated being “Steph, the one who’s mom died”. Whenever I could I wouldn’t mention it to anyone that didn’t already know. It hurt to see others around me with their moms. Going to school concerts and not seeing her there again. Having field trip parent sign up forms to bring home knowing that she wouldn’t be able to attend. It was all of the little things that stung the most.
Still to this day, March is hard. I usually spend most of the days reminded of how it felt, nearly twenty-three years ago, to lose her.
It took me up until I was twenty years old to say “good-bye” to my mom. I was finally able to deal with, and accept the loss in my life. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of peace over the situation. I remember praying to God and thanking him that it happened. This may sound a bit twisted but if my mom had not been killed in that car accident I wouldn’t have met, been cared for, and loved by my “second mom”. When I was twenty I realized this fact. My mom was called home to be with her savior, but God didn’t take her and leave my dad, brother and I alone. He sent my “second mom” into our lives a very short time after the accident. That in and of itself is a whole other world of emotions but I can say that I see that everything happens for a reason. God is merciful and he does not take pleasure in seeing his children in pain. He comforts those who grieve. He makes all things new, He surrounds those who call on Him with a peace that cannot be described by words.
I chose to run away from God after my mom died. I’d fake the emotions that I was fine. I went to church, I acted like I was OK with God and what had happened, when in reality I was so far away from Him and so angry with Him. I was seeking joy and the sense of belonging in places I shouldn’t have been. Life was not kind to me and I swam in that pool of self pity and despair for years.
When I was twenty I gave everything back to God. I spoke to him, I poured my heart out to him and just like that I remember feeling a complete sense of healing. I took that new found peace that I never thought I would experience and I drove myself two hours to my mothers grave. I didn’t tell anyone I was going there. I just knew I needed to go alone and say good-bye. I walked back through the wet grass, my shoes and feet soaked, my body shivering as chills set in. I saw the heart shaped tomb stone just ahead of me and I slowed down a bit. Tears started to flow from my eyes as I read “beloved wife and mother” written across it. I looked down at the ground, smiled and said “thank you for being my mom, I love you and I always will. Good-bye Mom”. Just like that it was done. A heavy load was lifted off of my shoulders and I turned around and did not look back. I felt peace.
Still, this doesn’t mean I do not still get sad. Especially when March hits. I more or less feel the pull come over me that brings me back to when I was ten. I relive the “last day of fun” and the “day of death” a few times over before the months end. I am however, constantly reminded that I am BLESSED to have had Marlene as my mom for my first ten years and I am continuing to be BLESSED to have Lena as my mom for the past twenty two years.
All things in life have a purpose, everyone who enters my life has a purpose. To think that my mom was only thirty-seven when she passed constantly reminds me that we are all terminally ill and we are all at deaths door. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. We may have plans, but until we are faced with the morning sun again there is zero reason to believe that we have the right or will be able to carry out those plans.
I am thirty-three, in my thirty-fourth year. My mom’s life was taken from her just three years older than I am now. No warning, no reason to think that this could possibly happen to her, to us. We are all terminally ill, our disease? sin. We are born and we will die. Some are fortunate enough to grow old, other’s aren’t given that opportunity. My my was only blessed with thirty-seven years, my sweet Nathaniel was only given sixteen weeks of life in utero.
I will confess that I thought that I wouldn’t be faced with such a painful death again like my moms. I thought that I was exempt from that kind of pain since I was already dealt the death card at the young age of ten. Nathaniel’s death reminds me that you cannot count on past experiences to determine what you will be faced with tomorrow. I am not exempt from pain, from failure or from loss. I am however learning to be more equipped with the tools I need to go through those situations with peace and understanding. I am choosing to fill my mind, heart and soul with the word of God and his promises that no matter what circumstance, no matter what “life throws at me”, if I put my faith in Him, He will see me though the storm. He has done that and He is continuing to do that even to this day.
2 thoughts on “learning to love the loss…”
Thank you for sharing your tender, profound story. I remember the day. It is so wonderful to hear more about who your mom was, especially as we got to know and love Jason. Dave and Jason have become such fast friends and I know your mom would have laid down the foundations of love and friendship in those very early years for you and your brother. Thank you again. We have all benefited from the sharing of your story.