Grieving The Death of Your Best Friend's Mom

Jasmine Sanders pens a raw piece detailing how she navigated her emotions and feelings after learning of the death of her best friend’s mother who had succumbed to pancreatic cancer.

Jasmine Sanders pens a raw piece detailing how she navigated her emotions and feelings after learning of the death of her best friend’s mother who had succumbed to pancreatic cancer.

“The moment of impact. The moment of impact proves potential for change. Has ripple effects far beyond what we can predict. Sending some particles crashing together…making them closer than before. While sending others spinning off into great ventures, landing them where you’d never think you’d find them. That’s the things about moments like these. You can’t, no matter how hard you try, control how it’s gonna affect you. You just gotta let the colliding parts go where they may. And wait. For the next collision.”

–Leo (Channing Tatum), The Vow

No one prepares you for your best friend’s mom dying. No one teaches you what you should say, how you should feel, or what you’re supposed to do. Even if you have been somewhat preparing, in the back of your mind, you never know until it happens.

I remember waking up as the sun rose in my hotel room. You see, I was on the road in Arkansas preparing for a conference game. I played college soccer for the University of South Alabama and this was what we referred to as a “travel season”, which meant for about three months we were constantly either on the road or in the air. I’m not really sure why I woke up, but looking back I think the sun rising was Ms. Cathy walking into the gates of heaven and saying:

 “Jasmine. Wake up. Jacie needs you.”

Per usual, I grabbed my phone to look at messages I may have missed while sleeping, and I noticed I had a missed call and voicemail from my best friend, Jacie Scott. Now, Jacie and I had talked a few days prior to this moment, and she told me her mom was back in the hospital and not doing well. But, Ms. Cathy had been living with pancreatic cancer since I met her around 6 years of age.

When I clicked to listen to the voicemail, I simply thought Jacie was just going to give me an update and in one moment everything changed. I cannot even tell you everything that was said. I just remember hearing, “she’s gone,” the tears running down my face and me sobbing, which definitely woke up my teammate. Listening to that voicemail was one of the worst things I have had to experience.

Ms. Cathy was like a second mama. She fed me, drove me to and from dance, talked to me about life and encouraged me to always stay good. In that moment all I wanted to do was hold my friend and cry with her, but I couldn’t. I had to go play a soccer game.

No one prepares you for loss, even if your loved one has been sick for some time. You are never prepared. I didn’t realize prior to this that you not only have to deal with your best friend’s grief, but your own grief as well. Hurting for your friend, but also feeling the pain yourself leaves this great big knot of nothing in your stomach - one that takes a long time to unravel.

The next few months saw lot of phone calls and a lot of hesitation with even mentioning my mama just because I didn’t want Jacie to cry. I felt guilty for my mama still being around. I felt guilty for the memories - the good memories of dance, family, food and the backseat of her mama’s SUV. No one tells you what to say or what to do. You just kind of wing it and wait - wait for an opening of healing.

A few months later, during Jacie’s Spring Break, she came to visit me in Mobile, Alabama. It was the first time in months we had seen each other in-person. For the few days she was there, we did nothing but heal. We laughed, cried, drank, had deep conversations, ate, brought up the memories and cried a whole lot more.

I don’t know what it’s like to not have one’s parent on this Earth anymore. And to this day, I don’t know if I did everything I could have or if I still do everything I can to be there for my friend. But, I do know I’ve tried. Every birthday, every anniversary of her Mom’s death, every Mother’s Day, every major accomplishment Jacie has and every major accomplishment I have, to let her know just how proud Ms. Cathy is of her and that she’s looking down smiling. Ms. Cathy has been looking over us ever since her passing, and she has pulled us through each and every “collision” - the next one happening just a year after her death.

It’s comforting to know she is always watching over us.

“I have only slipped away to the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, That we still are. There is absolute unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you. For an interval. Somewhere. Very near. Just around the corner.”           

-Henry Scott Holland


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