Mother’s Day without a mother


Becca Reed

Courtney Reed dressed to the nine’s ready for my first holy communion.


Never in my life did I think my world would change so drastically over the course of four years. The unexpected event that ripped my family apart over something that permanently changed our lives and beyond. A day that is always on my mind no matter the situation. Dreading Mother’s day as a holiday, was never a thought in my mind, as time continued too long without her by my side.


September 15, 2012. I woke up to my grandma with crystal tears in her eyes slowly rolling down her pale face as if she just saw a ghost. One of her own children was taken away from her too soon. The one thing a parent wants is to be able to protect her children, but instead, she watched as her child slowly died in front of her. I figured it was a typical Tuesday morning, and my grandma was waking me up for school.  I saw the look in her eyes, knowing deep down she [my mother of nine years] was gone. 


Knowing at some point she was going to pass away from a disease that slowly deteriorated her body inside and out was the worst feeling. Being unsure she was going to make it to my tenth birthday was difficult to wrap my head around. One of the most painful ways to watch someone you love slowly and painfully pass away from something that was taking over her body–Lung Cancer. 


We didn’t want her to go, but it was heartbreaking to see how much pain she went through over 4 years as she fought for her life to stay alive for her children. Trying to do everything in our power to save her, we realized she was in God’s hands and it was no longer up to us. Accepting the fact that she wasn’t going to make it, but not knowing when was discouraging. 


She was finally free of the constant world of medication, chemotherapy, testing, blood work, shots, and all of it. My grandma walked behind me down the never-ending hallway holding me by the shoulders before entering my mom’s resting place.  Pausing right before getting into her room, I took a deep breath preparing myself to see her lifeless body on the bed. Breaking down as I was lifeless, my family soon joined at my house and we all mourned the loss of my mom, and their aunt, niece, and sister.


We brought the hospital to her. She didn’t like being away from family and being in hospitals surrounded by strangers. The necessary equipment stood out in her home. My family and I all took care of her for a long dreadful four years-the most heartbreaking four years of our lives 


Whenever I would go to school, I felt like I had a secret identity of taking care of her and doing schoolwork. Everyone knew my mom was dying but it was always just “she’s doing ok” and not the actual truth when somebody would ask. I hated talking about it because I felt like everyone treated me differently so I gave short answers so the conversation wouldn’t keep going.  At school, I would be trying so hard to concentrate on my multiplication tables- but I couldn’t stop thinking about my mom. Every time a phone call came from the office, my heart dropped. I was just waiting one day for them to call me down and tell me the news I knew was going to happen but hoping for some miracle to occur. 


I  will always be grateful for all the help we got over the years. A miracle to appreciate each moment she was still alive.  From our aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents to my mom’s friends who would come and bring things or just help out in any way that we needed, it was wonderful having so much support. I still felt alone through it all.


 Teachers would have us write about what we did on the weekend and I would always write about soccer or spending time with family but never put in the details about my mom of what’s it’s really like taking care of a loved one with cancer. Seeing her slowly lose weight and next thing you know she’s skin and bones and can’t move without the help of someone getting her out of bed. Having to get up every morning and check to see if your mom is still breathing as an 8-year-old was really difficult to grasp. Having to feed her even though the food wasn’t helping her was heartbreaking to watch. Watching my beautiful athletic mom,  slowly get sick and slowly have her body break down from the inside to out was something I will never get out of my head.  


The constant cycle of it was long, yes, but it was worth it. 


My mom was one of a kind. In the short time I had with her, she taught me many things in life. She taught me a different perspective of how to look at people. She taught me that you could still make a rainy day feel like a sunny one. She taught me to always be kind and knowledgeable and to never judge other people’s situations because you simply don’t know what they are going through. And the biggest one: she taught me that family is the most important thing in life and always will be. 

My family and I were very close throughout the years and still are but I think that’s the main reason for how strong our bonds actually are. My mom would always make all six of us sit on her bed every single night and we would all say our prayers together and talk about what’s going on the next day and how everyone’s school is. Thank you for teaching us how important family really is.


At her funeral, the line to see my mom was out the door with people. I think that’s when it really hit me. She was such an important soul not only to me but the community as a whole was affected after she passed. I saw the many that were always at my house or the ones helping my mom with the little things. I saw millions of friends who offered support, I saw those who held fundraisers, and I saw those who would reach out and help.


Going onto eight years without her is really challenging. I mean I have amazing support, but I never thought it would be this hard as I got older. The older I got, the more I wanted to see her– on Mother’s Day especially.


Instagram and Snapchat Posts about moms all around the world and videos of moms enjoying the day with their kids are currently all over social media, blowing up my feed. I don’t get to watch her open a thoughtful gift that I wanted to give her on Mother’s Day. I don’t get to see her amazing smile or get to give her a hug after coming to one of my sports games. My whole body just wants to crumble into a hole on that day because the memories are no longer and we now rely on old picture books and stories about her.

The grief of losing a parent never really goes away. Mother’s Day is a one-of-a-kind holiday. I still love the day because I can still visit my mom–it’s just weird the fact that I am never going to be able to watch her emerge in a beautiful red dress for my first holy communion again. Even though she was tired, she looked like a new person. I ended up getting that photo framed. 


On Mother’s Day, my Cousins and I would always run the Race for the Cure in honor of my mom.  The race took away from her being gone. I choose to run the race because that’s what she would do. The tradition of running the race will be continued throughout generations. We did it in honor of my mom. Her spirit was always around us, but on Mother’s Day, it felt stronger than ever. My siblings and I each have a piece of her in our hearts as we continue to grow and make decisions in life. 


I have realized…. I have to spend more time remembering her than actually being with her. The times she would always wait for me in the grass after I came home from school with two popsicles just dying to know how my day went or when she would watch me dive off our diving board and rate how good I did. The best thing about her was that she never gave up or tried to show any weakness during her time with cancer. She would always hide it so well and that’s what amazed me so much about her. She was and still is the strongest person I know.

Each of my siblings spends the day differently because we all cope differently. I don’t think anyone has ever gotten over it, but in some ways, it brought us closer together.  

“Not having a mother leaves an emptiness inside of you that can never be filled. In the beginning, it feels so massive that you start to think nothing can fill this void but as time goes on that void hardens and turns into a glass with a hole in the bottom. You start to see that even though she is gone, I still have mother figures to turn to and ask advice, secret family recipes, or even just talk about my day. Slowly the hole in the bottom becomes smaller as it’s being filled with memories and stories about her life with you and before you, and the memories that you make. There is always a part of her with you that can never leave and helps guide you when you can’t ask for help or have to make a tough decision. The hole in the bottom can never fully be patched but I know I have a plethora of family and friends who would offer to fill my cup and keep me half full,” said Rachel Reed who is 25 living her best life in Texas.  My sister stayed by her side for all of it more than anyone.

For me and my siblings, losing our mom so young in life put a strain on our hearts. It brought us together to become an inseparable family no matter the distance. Our mom was a light on a rainy day and she will always be with us in ways we don’t even know. I aspire to be like her and to live my life in memory of her and for her. In loving memory of our favorite angel.