The day I found out my mum had two weeks to live was one of the hardest days of my life.
Yet, on that day, she taught me the self-confidence necessary to tackle this life and everything that it’s going to throw at me.
My best friend was lying in the hospital bed, her eyes gentle and exhausted. I felt my heart being pulled to the ground.
This was it, the moment that I had been burying in the shadows of my subconscious for the past 18 months.
“I’m afraid we’re looking at about two weeks now Angie… I’m really sorry” the doctor said with a whisper.
Time stopped. I didn’t exist as a human.
I evaporated into that moment of empathy, helplessness and despair.
Mum closed her eyes and took a deep breath before opening them again.
“That’s alright” she said in a quiet, almost forgiving tone.
She turned her head to look at me, her glance was soft. The spark in her eyes that had guided me through 28 years of life was absent. I could see that it was time for me to carry the torch.
In her soft glance, I saw that she was afraid—not of death itself, but afraid of leaving me behind, fearful that I would have to endure the pain of watching her die and carry on the rest of my years without her.
Her eyes widened and the once familiar spark in her eyes returned for one final moment, “It will be okay,” she reassured me.
The look she gave me was one I’d seen countless times. The look that conveys a million emotions with zero words. The look that had continuously dared me to dream bigger, that had always strengthened me with a sense of self confidence and that assured me there was always a silver lining in any cloudy day.
She knew she wasn’t going to be okay. She knew she was going to die.
But in that moment, she still found a way to put me first.
She took the hardest moment of her life and she flipped it into a selfless act and a lesson. She made sure that I knew she had the confidence in me to carry on. She conveyed this with a look I’d seen so many times and one that she knew I would understand.
The greatest gift my mum gave me was a simple idea to entertain:
In life, situations or events that happen to us are not bad or good—they are always both. The outcome “good or bad” is decided by you. How do you choose to interpret an event or a situation? What meaning are you going to give to it?
It’s up to you.
Mum talked about the past as if they were the best days of her life—no matter what days she was talking about.
The 70s when her and dad used to smuggle their friends into the drive in cinema in the boot of their car. They were the best days of her life.
The 80s when her and dad had finished building their fifth house together. They were the best days of her life.
The 90s when she used to work at the BMX club canteen and steal candy for me. They were the best days of her life
When any of her grandchildren were born. They were the best days of her life.
My mum taught me to see the world how it really is and to focus on what we can change that will move us forward, to find the silver lining and make lemonade without ignoring the fact that there is a dark cloud and a handful of lemons behind us.
In her final moments, she showed me that being able to choose what you focus on is possible no matter how high the emotional stakes. She showed me that I always have a choice and I’m not a slave to my emotions.
I was lucky enough to be given this gift with a look, a look that only mother can give.
Thank you, mum.
Author: David Fragomeni
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: L’Orso Sul Monociclo at Flickr
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