Author: Chrisanna Hibbitts, on the Seventh Anniversary of her mother’s death
Every year I feel it. Deep, like an old heartbreak; or muscle memory from routines past… My body begins to grieve much sooner than my mind remembers why…
Days, even weeks in advance, everything starts to change… I feel more anxious and restless, unable to sleep; the exhaustion, distraction and sadness sets in. Then all the memories of her last days come flooding back…
Her fall out of bed… five weeks in the hospital… her quick deterioration and confusion, constantly asking, “Am I dying?” Then the trip home, Hospice care, and less than 48 hours later, her last breath. The head nurse, the coroner and the body bag waiting in the living room… my last moments alone with her and realizing she was now, only an empty shell of the woman I knew… the shock of losing my mother; the reassurance of knowing she was finally home with Jesus.
Seven years ago, in Arlington, Texas at 1:55am Friday morning, my mother passed from this life into the next. She battled Stage-4 breast cancer for eight years, and had a resilience and assurance of faith that rivaled Old Testament prophets. She raised me on her own with the help of my grandparents, who years before, had passed as well. Then last year, my father and his mother joined them. All the family I’ve ever known, finally together in Christ… without me.
But I’m not alone. My father’s extended family has taken me in and made me their own. My church family and sweet friends I’ve made over the years come through again and again. But I still feel it. I anticipate it. And the grief and sadness takes me by surprise every time… until this year.
I’ve experienced more loss in the past year than in my last 39 years combined. But I survived. I asked for help. And I took time away to rest, refresh, and retreat.
I find it no accident I came to the completion of this season of loss, on the very eve of her death; which just as I sat by her side through the night seven years ago, I do every year on this date. I can’t truly sleep until around 4:00am, because that’s when I finally slept after her body was taken away.
This year, however… The week before her anniversary, I was on vacation in South Dakota. The weekend of, I attended a ladies’ retreat with my new church family. And when the clock struck 2:00am this morning, I had my new kitten asleep on my lap.
I still miss her every day. And I’m truly humbled by the amazing legacy of faith she and my grandparents left behind. But this year, I’m grateful I was able to bask in her joy, rather than wallow in my grief.
I love you, Mom.
My name is Chrisanna Hibbitts from Arlington, Texas. I was raised the only child of a single mother, who was highly educated and had a passion for learning. She taught me to read at the age of four, and by 13, I was an avid writer. I wrote for the school newspaper in Junior High, and in high school earned publications in the National Library of Poetry’s “In Dappled Sunlight” and “Poets of 1997.” Shortly after earning my graduate degree, my mother passed away, and I began an online blog, “My Life After Death.” Several years later, I set a personal goal to learn about proper nutrition, and wrote a blog advocating for weight loss and clean eating. I now live in Dallas and work as a freelance writer, creating resumes and cover letters for local clients, and write a blog focused on addiction and recovery.