Knowing our role or function among our friends and family isn’t something we intentionally think about; it’s just natural. Knowing our role at work is necessary and obvious. I didn’t realize every character (aka: people around me) in my story (aka: life) had been playing a role in my life for years. Not just Mom, Dad, Grandma, or best friend. But more in-depth: protector, caretaker, wisdom giver, encourager, the glue, or comedian.
I knew before I lost my mom that I was Cathy’s daughter. Everyone loved my mom; therefore, they loved me too, because I was her daughter. (I truly do believe that everyone in my life did love me for me, but it was because of the relationship they had with my mom and how much they loved her friendship.)
I knew that my mom was the peacemaker between my dad and me. I knew I was the ringleader among my younger cousins. I gathered them during holidays and birthdays to play games, skateboard, or swim. I knew that in social gatherings, where I didn’t know a whole lot of people, I followed my mom’s social butterfly lead. I knew I was interested in TV production and was going to pursue communications. I knew that Mom planned out meals and initiated holiday gatherings. She was the social bee, and Dad was the supporter. My past role became apparent when tragedy struck our lives. I didn’t know how Ceci was to function in the present.
Figuring out my role as a daughter was difficult. While I was home from college, first summer break without after my mom’s death, I felt the need to jump in the mom role. I would make dinner for dad and me, and we would sit and eat at the kitchen table, like we always did. I would try to keep the house clean, or be the rock, which meant no crying in front of someone else who was crying. No one told me to do that, but I took it upon myself because there was this new empty space in our lives.
There were moments when I had to remind myself that I wasn’t my dad’s caretaker (not that he needed one), and that I wasn’t Mom. I can’t force anything, heal anything, or keep anything the same. I’m still a daughter. But when you have two hurting people living under the same roof, roles become a bit gray as you’re trying to heal or struggle with sadness.
I was on the journey of figuring out who I was apart from my mom. My identity wasn’t wrapped up in her—she wouldn’t allow that—but she was one of my best friends and I looked up to her. There were so many admirable characteristics about her that I wanted to grow in.
The month my mom passed away, someone gave me a book that was called The Motherless Daughter, and she warned me that it would be hard to read. She suggested reading it down the road as I continued to heal and figure out life. In the most non-depressing way, seeing that title, The Motherless Daughter, and putting it together that that was now me actually helped me move forward. At first, it stung, and there was a little bit of denial; but after a while, it helped things click mentally. It was something that I saw in movies and television shows. It’s something extremely life-changing, and you can never mentally picture yourself being that person. Just because I didn’t have a mom physically anymore didn’t mean I wasn’t a daughter anymore.
I am a motherless daughter, but at the same time a “motherfull” daughter, because all of my mom’s close friends appropriately stepped in when needed and took me under their wing. Along with those wonderful ladies, I have my mom’s legacy, which directs me on a daily basis.
Who are you now? What is your role?