Life After Mom

She had a beautiful smile. I remember it so clearly. She could light up a room any time she came in.

I don’t remember much about her. I didn’t get to know her, but I know she loved me. She gave me her life without hesitation. I want to remember more, but it just doesn’t happen. I know I pushed her away when she left my father. It wasn’t her fault, now I know that. I never meant to be a bad daughter. I was lost. She didn’t know how to help me.

I remember we weren’t close. I never let her in. I didn’t know how to talk to her. I understand now that I am a mother, that having teenagers is hard. Being a single parent makes it even harder. She did everything possible to keep me happy. She gave me everything I needed, and when she could, no matter what she had to do, she gave me what I wanted. That wasn’t the point, I was in pain. I suffered in silence. I didn’t know how to talk about it. I found comfort away from her.

She seemed so happy all the time. I didn’t know that she was also suffering. I know now that a smile doesn’t mean you are happy. I know the pain behind the smiles because I have felt it deeply. I know the suffering behind the laughs. I know how much it hurts to keep going when everything is going so wrong. I know it hurts more when you have to put on a smile for the world so they won’t ask what’s wrong, because you don’t know how to explain. Because you think they will judge you. Because you don’t even know what’s going on.


For months I was in denial, I couldn’t grasp the thought of you dying. I knew you weren’t getting better, but I hoped you did. I didn’t know how to talk to God. Maybe he would’ve left you here with us if I had asked him to. If I had humbled myself to get on my knees and pray.

I kept telling myself that everything was fine and I would come home one day to see you walking, cooking or at least sitting up. I wanted to see you eat and laugh at your own jokes. I was so tired of seeing you sick. Coming home to hear you throwing up or crying. I’m sorry mama, I know it wasn’t your fault.

I was so selfish, all I thought was about my pain and my suffering. I didn’t stop to think about how you felt and what you needed. You probably felt lonely and scared. You needed me. I was everything to you. I knew you worried about me. I knew it hurt you just to think of leaving us. I know now that you were terrified of leaving us behind. It wasn’t fair that you wouldn’t be around to see my baby grow. It wasn’t fair that you wouldn’t meet your new grandson. It wasn’t fair that you had to leave your only daughter in this world to struggle on her own. It wasn’t fair that your life would end so soon after all you had suffered.


After you left, my life came crashing down. I tried to convince myself that everything would be okay. But it wasn’t. I couldn’t bear the pain. This excruciating pain that tore me apart day by day. I learned to survive without you. Surviving is not the same as living. I went to bed every night not knowing what I would do the next day to keep going. I woke up every day to the same feeling of emptiness and loneliness. I wasn’t alone, I had my babies, I had my boyfriend and my aunts, but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. This hole in my heart couldn’t be filled. I felt bad for any moment of happiness. I didn’t want to be happy without you. How could I be happy if you weren’t here anymore? I didn’t deserve it.

For a long time I blamed myself for your death. I pushed you so far, I stressed you out so much, I was a huge burden for you. I knew you were donating plasma to get money. I didn’t even know what that was. A lot of people were doing it, so I never thought anything of it. You didn’t know any better. You had to get money to feed us however you could. People blamed me for that. They blamed me for you getting sick. They said you got sick because you donated plasma to get money for me. I believed it. If I hadn’t been so spoiled, if I hadn’t gotten pregnant, maybe you would’ve never needed to do that. Maybe you wouldn’t have gotten sick. Maybe you wouldn’t have died.

I carried this guilt for so long. It was my cross to carry, a heavy burden in my empty heart. I thought I deserved to live in agony. I thought I had to pay for everything I did to you. I believed that I deserved everything bad that I experienced.


I suffered so much. I needed you. I wanted you to come hold me. I wanted to hear you laugh again. I was so angry at you for leaving me, I was angry at God for taking you away. I was even angrier at myself for treating you the way I did, for leaving you when you needed me the most.

I’m so sorry mama. I never meant to hurt you. I never meant to push you away. I wish I had told you back when you were with us. Now it’s too late to hug you and tell you how much I love you, how much I miss you, how much I still need you. I need you every day. Your grandkids need you most.

I wish I could remember more. I want to remember your voice, your laugh is fading away. I want to remember your touch. Your scent. I wish I could hug you right now. I would never let go.


I want you to know that I am healing. You don’t have to worry about me anymore. I made it through the pain. I learned to forgive and stop blaming myself for things that were out of my control. Mama, I want you to know that I’ll be okay! I will be happy again. I know you would be so proud of me. I want you to know that I found my way to God. He never left my side. I was just too blind to see it. I know you already know this because you are so close to Him. He has a greater purpose for me and we will all live together with Him one day.

Don’t be sad mama. I know how to live now. I have so much to live for. I have regained control of my life. I’m no longer in pain. I know it wasn’t my fault. God needed me to grow and become the person I am today. I will make you so proud!!

Mama, I love you. We will meet again.

Love Pao.

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

1Thess 4:17