Short Story: “How to Cope with the Loss of Your Mother Who Still Lives”

Sabrina Xiong, author

Remember your last conversation. Whether it was that phone call you made where she kept saying she was tired and didn’t feel like talking but you kept her on the phone because you wanted to know why, but hung up saying, “you’re not my mom anymore” when she couldn’t give you an answer. Or at that stupid family meeting where you cried when your younger brother spoke because it felt like you failed at being an older sibling, where your mom cried too because she just loved everyone too much that she couldn’t decide. Whenever or whatever that conversation was, remember it. 

You then want to dwell on it, but not too much. It should stay put in the back of your mind while you finish up your final exams so you can graduate high school, go work your two jobs, and plan for college. You have to keep moving forward in your life. The world isn’t going to stop for you. 

At night is when you can officially dwell on it, along with all the other memories you had with your mom. The way she used to stroke your hair and kiss your cheek when she missed you. Her frail hands holding yours in grocery stores because she always got distracted. How you suddenly became the one to take care of her and the moment you realized it was when her left eye became foggy. Nighttime is the perfect time to do this. It is when no one will hear you cry and whisper about how much you miss your mom and hate her for what she allowed. 

After the tear-filled nights, you want to wake up and treat the whole thing like it was some inconvenience. A little bump in the road. You can either laugh it off because of how ridiculous it was, or become unfeeling towards the whole thing. I’d recommend both, for a little variety. 

Dissect every single detail spanning back from when your mom met that man to that moment exactly with your sister at the kitchen table, trying to find where the red flags were and how things could have been avoided. 

Get analytical with it. 

Move into college with your friend and tell her everything that happened. Not just the events, but how you’re feeling. The discussion should arise once the sun has set, your music playing in the background forgotten along with the assignments that need to be done by midnight. Start from the beginning and draw the whole thing out, trying not to leave every piece out. She won’t tell anyone. She’s a good friend who listens and cares about you. 

Repeat the process every few weeks, but arrange the story and your feelings differently. You have to try and make sense of every aspect but always fail and feel incomplete. There should be a feeling of needing to say more, but not knowing what else needs to be said so you just sit there with your friend, sighing over and over as if it’s going to help. 

Keep talking about it because it’s therapeutic and reliving it makes you remember why you should never talk to your mom again. Ignore everyone who says that you’ll regret not reconnecting with her when she dies because you know better. Mention her in every single piece you write and in that book you’ve been writing for two years. Do all of this because this is how to cope with the loss of your mother who still lives.