Even though dwelling on the past can be toxic, I look back in fear of forgetting the details of each moment.
The nine-year anniversary of my stepmother’s (Randi) death is coming up, and every year around this time I look at pictures of her so I do not forget her face or who she was.
She was snarky, bold and beautiful. She always said exactly what was on her mind, and she knew how to make people smile, even if they did not want to at the time.
I was 12 years old when my family lost her. It was my first time really dealing with death.
It is still something I cannot understand and have so many questions about.
It still feels like yesterday when my father asked my siblings and I to meet him in the basement, where he would play Tomb Raider on the Playstation 1.
This is where he told us Randi had cancer. He said that she had a year to live. She was gone within months.
I had never felt so out of the loop on what was going on. In school we had always talked about cancer, but learning about the reality of her sickness was harsh.
Things were not the same when she got sick. Her spirit changed. I always accompanied her on car rides to the gas station or store, where she would ask me about school and my most recent crush.
On one of our last car rides, I could tell she was trying to keep our conversation normal, but she broke down. She told me she was scared and not ready to die.
She was only 32-years-old. She has two children, Carmen and Caine, and she, of course, did not want to leave them.
During her last month, she was walking down the block to her mother’s house when one of her lungs collapsed.
I remember I was going to meet her there, and I watched the ambulance take her away on a stretcher.
I was so afraid that we lost her right then and there, but this was one of the last times my siblings and I really got to see her. My dad did not really want us to see her in so much pain in the hospital.
On Jan. 31, 2009, our dad came to pick us up for his weekend visitation and told us that Randi had died the day before.
After she passed it was hard to understand that she was really gone. It felt like we were just waiting for her to come home from running errands, but I had to remind myself she was gone.
Before she got sick my father and Randi had been battling addiction. There were so many unanswered questions I had about that and her sickness.
The usual who, what, when, where and why everything happened. Why did she get sick and why did she have to leave?
Despite my confusion about everything, I try to remember the good times. People say that time heals all wounds, but what does that mean? Does that mean forgetting as the days pass?
Does that mean we push away the thoughts of pain and focus on something else?
I know this is a phrase used to comfort and is up for interpretation, but I would never want to forget what happened.
Even though it is hard to think about and my eyes still mist at the thought of her, I think it is important to remember.
I miss her so much and although I do not believe in Heaven, Hell or a God, I do think that maybe somewhere she is in peace, and for that I am happy.
Abbey Whittington is a junior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]