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Reflections on Life Without My Best Friend on Mother’s Day

Growing up, especially as a teenager, I never thought of mummy as my best friend, let alone friend. She made it clear we weren’t friends by her stern approach to parenting. Plus, I’ve heard her boast many times about not viewing her children as friends. Mummy was tough. She lived a hard life as an immigrant from Haiti. She worked hard to provide for her four children…much of that time as a single parent. She learned how to speak English, worked jobs she could with her limited education, helped support her own siblings/family, and laid out a foundation for us of strong moral and spiritual values.

It wasn’t until much later in life, well after I had children, I realized she was my best friend, and of course, much more than a best friend. When I think of a best friend, I think of someone whose been there for you through thick and thin, who knows your family, who has witnessed your history, who you spend lots of time getting to know, who tells you the truth when you’re right and wrong, and who demonstrates their love and support over and over again. My mom was all of that and more. She always had the best intentions for me even if I couldn’t see it at the time.

My relationship with mummy was rough even through adulthood (though not as intense). She was strict and fearful. I was stubborn and wanted to make my own way. That’s the American spirit many other cultures fear for their children – the spirit of Independence. After all, I was born in the United States…the only one of my siblings who was. What more could have been expected? She served as my constant reminder through her example that caring for others is necessary in life. It was not just about me and my independence.

The values I embody: faith in God, hope, care for others, family, support, keeping my word, doing my best, working hard, being a nurturer, being the bigger person, forgiveness…I learned from her.

It’s been almost four years since she’s passed and the hardest thing for me is not being able to have a reciprocal conversation with her. We spoke almost daily, especially the last 4 or 5 years of her life. I speak to her in my mind on occasion though. It’s hard not being able to experience her reaction to all the good that’s happened in my life, including my husband and children’s lives. I want her to know, “See we’re OK. You didn’t need to worry so much because we’re GOOD.”

On this Mother’s Day, if you’re grieving the loss of your mother or mother figure, you’re not alone. Extend yourself some grace, cherish the memories, love on your own children and family, and prioritize rest and relaxation when you can.

Happy Mother’s Day from my heart to yours.

Roses from my crew. The vase behind has hydrangeas which are becoming one of my fave flowers.
Out Friday night for a pre-Mother’s day treat of dinner with my husband and daughter.
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Life is a beautiful mess…

Near the end of January, my dear friend sent a text asking how I was doing. We first met in the 7th grade and our friendship was sealed in high school. She moved to Texas some years after I did, so now we live just 2 hours apart. I caught her up quickly on my cancer treatments because she didn’t realize that I had already started and completed radiation treatment. Naturally, I was honest and indicated that I had been feeling moody and not wanting to be around people, more so than the usual. I attributed it to the hormone therapy I had started a few weeks prior. Her reply was an unexpected, pleasant surprise to the tune of taking me on a spa retreat. We scheduled it and it was AH-MAZE-ING! She picked me up on a Friday night in February and I returned that Sunday. Yup…a whole weekend of spa wonder, relaxation, exquisite farm to table food, and most importantly time spent with my dear friend catching up on everything.

First and foremost, I admire my dear friend as she is very successful in her field. She’s always been very generous. I attribute this to her parent’s example of generosity and unconditional love, which made a tremendous impact on me in high school. If I’m honest, I will admit to being envious of my dear friend at certain points in my life. As I’ve matured, I no longer feel that need to compare. I’m simply so proud of her. We each have our own paths, but we have an undeniable bond. Friendships ebb and flow with life’s milestones and we’ve experienced that in our frienship as well. She works hard, travels frequently, and takes great care of her family. We don’t talk all the time, but when we do, it’s like continuing where we left off. I know she has other friends. I have other friends, but nothing compares to this.

That weekend was beyond wonderful. It was what I needed – time away from my day to day busy life…time away from my husband and kids. After breast cancer treatment, I wanted to be lighter, not worry as much, and not take things so seriously, but something has been off and old ways of coping were creeping back in. That weekend, I was fed well and pampered. My dear friend and I caught up where we left off with ease, revisiting our history, talking about our relationship, catching up on our families, sharing our current struggles, and expressing our appreciation for our friendship. 

Have you ever experienced something so beautiful and thought that everyone should experience it? That’s how I feel about this. Sure, its great to be whisked away to a spa and be pampered, but that’s not the norm. That was evident to me as I was sharing the spa experience with my coworkers and telling them they have to visit at least one time. One coworker responded non-convincingly that it MIGHT happen one day WAY in the FUTURE. I thought about that and acknowledged that not everyone can afford to do something like this. Hell, I couldn’t afford to do it at the time that we did. Therefore, I contemplated what about that weekend made it so special. This blog is about self-care and our weekend at Travaasa Spa will go down in my book as one of the pinnacles in my self-care journey. The massages, facial, pedicure, manicure were amazing. The massage therapists were knowlegeable and caring, offering me tips on managing possible side effects of breast cancer treatment. Every meal was fresh and delicious. The equine experience with our guide and very own horse, Pete, was therapeutic and unforgettable. The service was impeccable. Despite all of that, hands down, the most meaningful exchange was the time spent with my dear friend. It was the fact that she carved out time in her busy life to spend a WHOLE weekend with me. That was the greatest gift.

That weekend reminded me how important friendship is, especially with regard to self-care. Spend time with your friends. Make time for your friends. Get to know people so that you can make friends. WARNING: It does require the willingness to be vulnerable at times, but that’s how you get people to know the real you. The benefits outweigh the risks. The return on investment is high. I consider my husband to be my best friend, but there is nothing like friendship outside of marriage. I only have two people who I consider dear, close friends and they’ve known me before I met my husband. We’ve maintained our relationships since we were adolescents and have been there for each other through life ups and downs. That is something special. That is something to be cherished. I’ve also developed other friendships over the years.  We make time for each other by having lunch once a month (with one group of friends) and having breakfast on the weekends after Zumba fitness class (with another group of friends). Solitude has its place, especially for an introvert like me. However, friendships provide support, comradery, fun, and love, among many other things. 

Courtesy of the staff from the spa, “Life is a beautiful mess, made better with friendship.” Get out there and spend some time with your friends.