Danielle Christopher

I Forgive Me



I never used to hate my mom. 37 years later, I finally forgive my mom for leaving. Every time she got sick and had to go away, she came back. The last time, mom never came back home. That was when my childhood ended. I was 10 years old.


From the first slap and the first verbal assault from him, my anger grew in the pit of my soul. For years I began to believe it was my fault that she left. He blamed me for anything and everything. He would hold me responsible for things when I wasn’t even there.  I turned to food to try and numb the pain. I turned to books to escape reality. Many times, I wished it was him who died, and not her. Often, I thought about joining her. He remarried two years after my mom died. My life became so wrong.  I only spoke when needed to.


Then my life was going to change again. I broke down during high school acting class and told my truth to my teacher. A few months later, dad and stepmom sent me to a psychologist. When the doctor stated that whatever I said to him was only between us by law, I spilled the six years of pain and grief that I endured in silence. After the psychologist confirmed my age, he delivered a big surprise like a magic wand… I legally didn’t have to live at home. The darkness dissolved away and I got to be behind the wheel of my life for the first time.


Fairy dust landed on me with one phone call. My mom’s best friend, and my Godmother, offered a place of solace. My childhood was able to begin again. Yet, the pain of the life I was cheated out of lingered for years. Mother’s Day, her Birthday, and her death anniversary were the hardest days to get through.


Then, I became a mom. I had always recognized the mums in my life before, but it hurt. When I had my first Mother’s Day while I was pregnant, I was working. Despite feeling being displaced, I felt more like a fraud. I never planned to be a mom. I only had her parenting lessons for the first ten years of my life. All of my past baggage was forgotten when I gave birth to the sun in my universe. When we brought our baby home, we had no clue what to do. No grandmother to tell us how to do this parenting thing. We just winged it.


Once we found our footing, we had another baby. Surprise. I felt flooded in the world that other people wanted to be in.  I desperately needed my mom to guide me. What did I do to be abused by a parent that should have been protecting me? Why did the one parent that loved me leave me?


When my kids were babies, I used to write stories of our oldest cat. When my youngest was eight months, I began to write about being motherless. The grief lessened by connecting to others who understood. My articles and blogs began to be published, it was a haven for a deep wound. Something amazing began to happen, readers sent me emails, DM‘s, and personal messages. I stumbled into worldwide grief. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel so alone or isolated.


My children carry a part of my mom’s name. When I watch them sleep, I can’t help wonder that if my mom were alive, would my miracle babies be here? I know it’s not her fault. I know I need to focus on my own health. As I write this, it has been two months since I went through colon surgery, and a Stage Two tumour was removed. Thankfully, they got it all out during the surgery. I joined the Cancer Club. This time.


For once having a crappy family history made me a medical priority. I will always be grateful for my Rockstar medical team. I am still here to watch my children grow up. My mom never got that chance. I will not take that for granted.


I’m so sorry, mom.


I forgive you, and I forgive myself.


I Like Being Motherless




Unbelievable. I discover myself standing in the kitchen not being able to move. I came back from serving my girls their breakfast. We are having a great chat when I went to put the milk away. The fridge handle feels hot under my right hand and my left is cold by the half-full milk jug. My heart is still. The calendar is at eye-level glaring today’s date. I have always known this day comes every year. I began today feeling perfectly okay for the first time before I knew what today really was. Stunned, I can’t believe it has been 30 years ago today that my mom died. For the first time in all those anniversaries, today is the first time I didn’t spend the morning crying.

I always hated the term ‘motherless’ ever since I saw Bambi’s mother got shot in the first minutes of the film. You knew it happened, but it still tore the heart. It reminds me of what I’ve been missing since I was 10 years old. My mom died of breast cancer at the age of 38 years old. My sister was only eight years old. My childhood ended that day.

Two weeks after she died, school started. As we walked to class it felt like there was an arrow sign above our heads announcing ‘Motherless Kids Coming Through.’ Kids would stop talking when I went to the gym or step up to wait my turn on the swings. I felt like a circus act when I would get to my desk, to the library and to play at recess. The only time I felt normal was when I was the first one home after school. My sister would come home a bit later, after she finished her fourth grade after school activities. I had a brief precious half hour to myself. I could pretend that life was okay for that short time. I walked through every room remembering mom in the living room or eating breakfast at the kitchen table. I never went to her bedroom. It is too hard to remember her there. Her stuff cleaned out days after she died. The only smell my nose recalls is her perfume, Chanel Number 5. The magic spell ended the minute I heard the front door open.

Friends would corner me in the playground by the hopscotch over the next month to tell me how they found out about the news my mom died. They would go on and on about how they felt and how they would hate to lose their moms.

Over the next few years were dark, going through the beginning of teenage hood without my mom was very hard. Sure, there were nannies and the stepmother, but it wasn’t the same. No matter what others told me, I always wondered what mom would have said.

When I got married, being motherless had grown into a thorn in my heart. After all the heartbreak, I don’t want to have kids. I can’t do that my potential children. Cancer took a lot of family from us too early. I also had endometriosis, which meant I couldn’t have conceived naturally. I was okay with that. There are many childless parents out there who deserve to find their children. My two girls changed that plan.

The minute the doctor confirm my pregnancy, my first, I was wrapped in fear. I took all the recommended precautions to make sure I would give birth to a very healthy baby. I took my grief it became motivated to be the best mom I could for my child, like mom did for me. I didn’t know what else to do to care for my baby, other than the books I devoured. When my first baby arrived the motherless grief return instantly. I had trouble breast-feeding. The baby would cry and cry. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t hear my mother’s voice anymore.

I became what is known as a helicopter parent before it was a label. I began to focus every ounce of energy for my baby. Every cry, every request and every wail, I am there at all hours of the day and night, whatever she needed. I know every breath, every giggle and every precious moment. I am all too aware how painful it is to want your mom, I will never let my child know that heartache.

On the good days, I do not hate being motherless anymore, I am going to do what Bambi did and move forward. But if I had that other life, one with her in it, would have I have met my children, I wonder. I might not have my stories, but I am making my own daughters by being here to live them together.

“MOM!!!” My thoughts are interrupted by my seven-year-old beauty is yelling from the kitchen table.

I jumped out of my thoughts and answered, “What is up?” My heart starts beating again. The feeling of my legs and voice returns.

She is looking at me with a look of curiosity in her smile. “Close the fridge. You are wasting energy, remember?” I nod as I close the door with a smile on my face, heart and soul. I am able to be the mom that my girls need me to be. I know that my mom was that for me for as long as she could. There is one exemption; I haven’t let my kids see Bambi, yet.

For the three decades that have passed since that ill-fateful day, this is the first time I don’t miss her madly. It occurs to me that she has always been here for every step of the way. All this time I worried about being a mom when the whole time I already had the best mom to model by. She wasn’t the best cook, me either. She wasn’t the best homemaker, ditto. My mom is always there for me, even in death. She is there in my parenting her grandchildren, with unconditional love.

I hug my girls with the familiar arms that I once craved after school or skating practices. I will always miss my mom. I now know that she will always be here. The best way to honor her is by being the mom she was to me. And that sounds like medicine to my healing heart. I didn’t need a parenting book to rely on, I just have my children’s hugs to remind me of what I need.

Being motherless does suck and that is okay to say. Motherless may be what got me here now, but it doesn’t define who I am today.