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Losing my Second Mom

Like most in December 2019, I was looking forward to the new year of 2020 and all its possibilities. Like everyone, I was not prepared for what the year would bring.

However, my year turned much quicker than it did for most of the world. On January 1st at 12:30 pm, I received the news that the woman I called my second mom had passed away.  

I was devastated. 

She had suffered a stroke and never recovered. I was actually texting her the day of her stroke.  I had sent her a text and she responded. Another text and no response. Later, I found out that she had her stroke after the initial text and that was the reason she had not responded.  

It was December of 2019, just before Christmas. I had just purchased a beautiful dragonfly necklace and a dragonfly coffee mug for her gift. She loved dragonflies and I was looking forward to spending time with her over the holiday. I never got to give her that gift.  

I could not believe she was gone. She had been a force in my life. I had met her when she became my girl scout leader. She and my mother led the troop that I was in and they became good friends. After that, I became a regular at her house. My childhood was a roller coaster of its own and she unwittingly provided me a safe place to land many times when the roller coaster was unstable and topsy turvy. Together, we traveled, shopped, ate brie and grapes and enjoyed each other’s company. She provided guidance and solace for many of my life questions.

She truly held a parental role in my life and provided guidance, support and love in so many ways. I was actually closer to her than I was to my father who I lost in 2014. Here, on the first day of 2020 (for which I had such high hopes), was the first time that I actually felt like I had lost a parent. My second mom was gone.  Nothing would be the same.

While I know that we are all here because we have lost our spouses, I thought I would share this story because it also deals with grief. Like you all know, it is a different kind of grief but it is still a loss that forever changes life. Just like when you lose a spouse, you do need to allow yourself time and grace to grieve. In our next blog, Teresa and I plan to talk about how additional deaths compound our grief and twist our journey even further.

Even though I had viewed her as my second mom, I wondered how everyone would feel about how I viewed our relationship. I should not have been concerned. Just about everyone knew how we felt about each other and seemed to accept the fact that we viewed each other in that way. 

Her memorial was beautiful. It was held at the same funeral home where my husband’s service had been years before. Unfortunately, I have been to that funeral home so much that I am on a first name basis with most of the staff. In the two years after my husband’s death, I lost 14 people in my life and most of them had their service in this very funeral home. So, here I was again. During the service, I was able to connect with some of the many people that JoAnn (my second mom) had influenced in so many ways.

She loved to travel. When I was a child, she and her husband put me in the back of their car and took me with them to Colorado. I did homework the entire way there so that I could enjoy the journey. When I got older, she and I would often take mini weekend getaways to shop and have high tea. I treasure each and every memory.

One of the things that JoAnn and I had done together was working with essential oils. In fact, she was the one who had introduced me to them. I found out after the service that JoAnn’s husband was going to allow me to have the ones that JoAnn had gathered. I was also asked to assist with going through items and deciding what to do with them.

This was hard.

When Bob had passed, I put this off as long as possible. Getting rid of his stuff for me was like losing more of him. Yet, here I was, just a few weeks after JoAnn’s passing, helping with going through things. We were deciding what to keep, what to get rid of and what to share with some of her dear friends. To say that this was difficult would be an understatement. Many tears were shed as I helped to sort through the items of her life.

Fortunately, because I knew some of her friends, I was able to identify some of the items that she would have wanted to share with them.  Although it was difficult, it is my hope that she would have liked the decisions we made at the time. I feel that she would have wanted her friends to have these items so I am glad that I was able to do this for her.

Just like I had never imagined life without Bob before I lost him, I also had never imagined life without JoAnn in my daily life. Her spirit and joy were infectious. True, the loss of a parent is much different…but loss is still there. The grief is still there.  As we all know too well, life is short and we must treasure the time we have together.  

Enjoy the here.

Enjoy the now. 

Sometimes, it is all we will ever have. 

We just never know.

I look at the dragonfly and I know that she is still here with me.  

Peace, and blessings,

Jeni & Teresa