My heart once beat inside of her. It has been 10 years since my mother passed and though she's not here with me, a part of her spirit continues to beat inside of me. Life continues perpetually without her here. I have felt her absence every single one of those days. It aches inside of me, a dull pain that is masked by everyday small moments.
Concealed but always felt. Pulsing harder at times, with every one of her nine grandchildren's firsts she never witnessed, the children most of whom she never met. Those moments of excitement when I accomplished things she and I only ever dreamt of. Those late night talks when we'd chat about our future, my plans, our dreams, while snuggling under a big blanket together, sipping away at our piping hot mugs of chai.
It sounds crazy at times when despite the years that pass, life's milestones instantaneously make me want to pick up the phone and call her, share my excitement as I yearn for her to tell me how proud of me she is. Words that I know in my heart but long to hear her say in the sweetest of all voices.
With every year that passes the hole in my heart remains the same. It doesn't change, it just becomes ever so much easier to distract myself. Part of me wants to be okay with the fact that she is gone and will never return but part of me wants to throw myself on the ground and beg to spend another few minutes, another few hours or another few days with her, sipping our cups of chai and chatting about anything and everything under the sun.
She was the life of every party, the glue that bound hearts together and the matriarch of our home. She loved to laugh and make others do the same and the moment she found out the favourite food of those she loved, she just had to make it for them. Perfectly of course. She found joy in everyday moments. She did not need an occasion to make you feel special, she did it every day in the most simplest yet beautiful of ways.
While some would say that we may have grown up sheltered, she created the most beautiful shield from the ugliness of the world. She painted our childhood with warmth and beautiful memories. She buffered us from the harshness of some of those around us. She buffered us from the world.
Her absence has stripped that shield and left me exposed. Fortunately her wise words, life lessons and kindness help arm my siblings and I with the strength to face the challenges that have come our way. She taught me the world is my oyster, to dream big then work to achieve those dreams, to believe in myself but always respect others.
The holidays were always her favourite time of the year. Not because we celebrated Christmas, because we didn't, but because it was her favourite time to host friends and family, cook for us and create the memories she was so wonderful at crafting. It also happened to be around the time of her birthday.
Like all things in life, it needed to be celebrated with family, friends and delicious food. It speaks volumes about her character that a decade later I still run into her friends, the man at the meat store and old neighbours who have nothing but good things to say about the queen who raised me.
Ten years have passed since I last held her hand, hugged her tight or stayed up late chatting the night away. I admired her strength, her perseverance and love for her family. If I close my eyes tight enough I can almost smell her night cream as I would sit on the floor next to her bed, whispering so as not to wake up my dad.
I could feel the softness of her hands as I held them in mine and remember the way her curls would fall around her face when she woke up in the morning, the small gap between her side teeth and how she would toss her head back and laugh, throwing caution to the wind when she found something funny. In many ways I am proud to have inherited many of her habits and strive to attain the others.
I recall her birthday one year, I was maybe 10 or so. I really wanted to get her something she loved, but didn't have any money so at night I took her favourite perfume off her dressing table, wrapped it in the most beautiful paper I could find and made her a card. When she opened it the next morning, her eyes moistened with joy. Her reaction taught me that it is our effort and intention that matter most in life. Her smile taught me to always appreciate life's blessings.
She taught me how to stretch a dollar, how to enjoy life to its fullest whether you have tonnes of money or do not. She taught me how to hold my head up high yet never with arrogance, to be kind to everyone regardless of class. To show mercy to strangers as you never know what someone else might be going through and to give charity with an open heart. If a friend is in need, a warm home-cooked meal goes a long way and nothing is more valuable than giving of yourself and your time.
Every one of us has to leave the earth one day and as the years drift by I become acutely aware of my own legacy that I will one day leave behind for my children, but in the dark of the night as I close my eyes, time stands still and I can almost smell her night cream and feel the softness of her hands cupped within mine. In that single moment and every other that follows we are, always have been and always will remain connected, mother and daughter.
This article was originally published on CanadianMomEh.com
Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed is a Montreal based journalist, blogger and editor of CanadianMomEh.com