Love Lives On

Love Lives On

Dealing with grief while learning a new way to love.

By: Whitney Sirek

I was 26 years old when my mom died in 2019. I never imagined living a life without her, she would warn me of this day. Often saying things like “One day I won’t be here”, and “You’ll miss me when I'm gone”. I never felt what she meant until the day I lost her. The world around me turned from vivid and bright to dull and slow.

My mother’s name was Lois she had me at the age of 42. She was an old-school Italian American, and she loved to cook! Together shared our love for food. Growing up she would take me to restaurants all over Rhode Island. The Ruff Stone Tavern was where I experienced my taste for tortellini and pink vodka sauce. The Lobster Pot in Bristol Rhode Island is where I fell in love with seafood. I would come home and try to recreate these dishes in the kitchen. My mom would support my creativity often buying me the ingredients needed to make each dish!

My mom was my best friend. I don’t think I know anyone else who could have called me as many times as her and considered them sane. Having someone love you this much gives you great comfort, a comfort I miss very much. I knew no matter what I did, who I was, or what I looked like her love was concrete. With her, I could go and find understanding. Away from the harsh judgments life sometimes gives you.

Today I saw one of my mom’s old friends. We chatted, and we talked about my mom for a bit (It was a conversation I didn’t know I needed). Her name was Rene, she had many great things to say about my mom. Ever since my mom passed in 2019 few people would talk about her. It was almost as if talking about her was taboo.A no-zone for the people closest to me to somehow protect my feelings from enduring further pain.

Rene didn’t act like this; she spoke in a way that lived on the memory of who my mother was. She reminded me how much my mother loved me. Although I never felt my mother’s love go away, I had to learn to love her differently. I could love my mother in my heart. and feel her presence in the times we shared, the food we ate, the laughs we had, and the dances we shared. Hearing the song “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O'Connor transcends me to times we would sing our hearts out. I could still hear her voice…

Greif is cruel, we want our people here with us. Learning to love the spirit of the departed is not an easy task. People can be selfish at times and want what makes them feel good in front of them, not what becomes a distant memory. We want what’s in the now, and how it appeases our senses. What if I told you we can activate our senses to feel any feeling we want? Thinking of something will cause you to feel a physical feeling.

Feelings of joy, love, and even sadness all cause a physical reaction. Learning to love the ones who are not with us in the flesh is difficult. We must remember them in a way that doesn’t make us sad but in ways that help us to live on with love. Losing my mom was devastating. Any thought of her would make me upset. I taught myself to suppress these feelings to not feel sad. I would change the songs that reminded me of her. Avoid talking about her to avoid begrudged conversations with family and friends. Often, I'd wondered why I had to experience such heartache.

These negative reactions would take me through an agonizing cycle. Discomfort and grief is what filled most of my days. I had to change the way I remembered my mom. Instead of feeling reminders as dreadful and sad. I learned to feel them as loving nudges of “I am here, I am by your side”. Maybe the departed miss us just as much as we miss them. The only way to share a mutual connection is through these senses. Hearing her favorite songs, smelling the sweet smell of patchouli, touching things that were once hers, seeing old pictures, and tasting recipes and foods we once shared, are all ways that love.

I learned to accept these remnants as a connection to a frequency of love. Feeling what we shared instead of experiencing them. I learned to love in a way I didn’t know how to before. I don’t get sad when I think of you, Mom. I know you never left my side. I learned to love you differently and this love is inside of me which I hold dear close to my heart. When a tear falls it falls as a toast to a love so strong any slight reminder of you gives my body a physical reaction. I never lost your love mom, yes you are missed, and yes there is an emptiness left here on earth without your presence. Your love is what has given me all the inspiration to write this. Love is what we still share although I cannot see you, it’s only with my eyes.

About the Author

My name is Whitney Sirek. I am originally from Rhode Island, and I am currently a student at the University of Rhode Island studying Strategic Communications. I am passionate about writing, creativity, and connecting with others. Beyond my academic pursuits, I am first and foremost a mother, sister, friend, and creator. I find inspiration in the everyday moments and connections with the people I love. My goal is to use my writing and communication skills to share meaningful stories that inspire and uplift others. While I am still early in my journey, I am excited to see where my passion for words and connecting with people will take me next. I believe that through sharing our stories, we help make the world a little bit brighter and a little less lonely.

Mar 22nd 2024 Whitney Sirek

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