On the day Aria left this world, and my heart split in two, I began to live in a constant state of fear.
I was afraid of life without my daughter. I was afraid of embracing reality. I was afraid of telling people she died. I was afraid of loving myself. Above all, I was afraid of feeling joy.
How could I be happy? My sweet little girl was gone. I told myself I would never recover, and frankly I didn’t really want to. I believed Aria’s memory lived in the darkness of my sorrow. If I dared to be happy, it felt like departing from her legacy.
And how could I love myself again? I still blamed myself. A part of me believed it was all my fault and I had failed her. Several doctors, my husband, and my family would look me in the eyes and tell me this wasn’t my doing, but it was no use. I really thought that as her mom, I should have been able to save her. Honestly, I still do from time to time.
Then someone asked me to look at my life through my daughter’s eyes. I was asked if I really thought Aria wanted me to live like this. Does she want me to fear love and joy? Does she want me to keep blaming myself? I couldn’t answer the question. I was caught in the foggiest part of grief and couldn’t see beyond it. Then, I was asked if I would want to watch my own mother waste away, and succumb to the sadness. I responded with an instant “no” and that gave me a lot of clarity. It was then that I realized Aria doesn’t want me to suffer.
She may not be here with my physically, but I believe she watches over me. Even in death, I’m still her role model. I have to live in the way I would have wanted her to live. I have to show her it’s possible to do the impossible, and that life is still good. I have to be fearless. Just as I would have told her it was ok to go down the slide all by herself at the park, I have to show her it’s ok to be brave after the world’s biggest tragedies.
It was never my responsibility to fix her, I couldn’t. I didn’t have that power. However, it is my responsibility as her mother to love and honor her. I can’t get very far in growing her legacy if I spend my life laying on the bathroom floor, completely drenched in tears.
So here’s to fearlessness and bravery. Joy is a muscle I’m slowly learning how to flex. The tumor that was in Aria’s lung won’t take my life too. I won’t let it.