In a loving family, there really isn't anything like the bond a child has with their parent. Even when you get older and hopefully go on to establish a family of your own, it's a deep connection that can't be severed. A woman named Nikki Pennington has been working to keep that connection even after her mother's passing.
Pennington blogs about grief and the sometimes very long path to recovery after losing a loved one. Her mother died unexpectedly, and she often writes about that loss and how it is affecting her daily life now.
After she died I bought printer ink • Lots and lots of printer ink and lots of printer paper • I had already lost her so I wanted to make sure to hold on to anything and everything I had left of her so I wouldn’t lose her all over again in some way • That’s when I spent my nights making copies of all the pictures her and I had together • What if I lost the pictures? What if they got misplaced? What if movers lost the box, the one box filled with all I have left of her? • I couldn’t risk it • I knew the sound of her voice would fade with time, the feel of her hug would become less and less so there is no way I could lose the memory of what she looked like or of what the two of us looked like when we were together • I have an entire binder dedicated to copies of all our pictures together, all the ones with her contagious smile and warm hug
She also keeps a Facebook page called Grief to Hope with Nikki Pennington. A recent post has gone viral, because it shows what an amazing mom Nikki had.
Pennington writes that she has always struggled with anxiety. Her mom knew that about her, and was great at talking her down when she was spinning out. After her mother died, Pennington told her husband that "her person" who understood how to help her was gone forever. He then told her an amazing story about what Nikki's mom had done on their wedding day to assure that wouldn't happen.
Anxiety has been a part of my life for as far back as I can remember
It’s been there for so long that I don’t really recall a time in my life without it.
If you have anxiety then you know you have that one person. The one person that knows just how to help calm you down in the midst of the anxiety fog.
That one person for me was my Mom.
If I could sit down beside the twenty-five year old me • The one sobbing and screaming uncontrollably on the floor the day my Mom died, I would have a lot of things to tell her • I would sit right beside the younger me who is screaming, “Why her??” and "Where are YOU?? How did you just disappear??” and "How am I going to survive this without you??" • I would just hug her, so tight. I would hug her just like my mom would have hugged me had she been there • I would tell her she is going to feel like she can't breathe some days • Some days the weight of grief and life without her is going to feel so heavy she will think she can't carry it any longer • At times she will feel like it consumes her days and nights, just thinking about her, missing her, aching for her • I'll hug her even tighter when I say this next • I tell her, that suddenly one day soon, something beautiful will happen. She will be me and I sit here with you today almost seven years later with a smile on my face and a joy that I never thought I would have when I was her all those years ago • Yes, some days will feel ultimately impossible to survive, you'll survive them anyway. Some days she will get through without crying and other days she will wonder if she’s cried all the tears her body can handle and she will cry some more • I’ll remind her it doesn't matter how she gets through, it just matters that she gets through it because that's the only way to do this whole grief thing and that’s to feel it. She can't wish days away and skip to years down the road, she will want to but she can't • I’ll tell her that this is going to feel like it will be the death of her a hundred times over on this journey but in the end she will feel like she’s become a completely different person, a person that is free to live again • A better version of herself, one that is just like her mom and that’s where she will find herself and her mom again, that’s where she will find the beauty in this grief
She knew just what to say, how to say it and the right moment to say it to help bring me back to reality. Her words and comfort were always stronger than my anxiety.
I always just assumed she would always be there to be my person but that all changed.
It was a few weeks after my husband and I were married and my anxiety kicked in, I said, “I have to call my Mom” he paused and said, “How about you talk to me instead? Just give me a try and see if I can compare.”
So I did, I gave him a chance to help ease my anxiety and it was as if I was talking to my Mom, it was as if I was talking to my person.
The calls to my Mom when my anxiety was in full force became less and less. She never asked why, never asked about it once. That’s because Moms like mine are few and far between.
I want you to meet my Mom • That’s something I haven’t been able to say for years now • I’ll never get the joy of having my Mom friends meet my Mom • I’ll never get to replay funny memories with all my adult friends about all the times my Mom made them laugh, sent them home with food or offered to watch their baby or loved my friends children like they were her own grandchildren • I’ll always have to try and explain her laugh, the feel of her hugs to my friends or the way her talks could solve all the worlds problems • I’ll always have to show up to the mother daughter events with a memory and picture instead of my Mom • I’ll always have to tell them how I wish they could have met her, could have known her and could have felt her hugs because they would have loved her so much and she would have loved them even more simply because I loved them • I’ll always have to imagine how motherhood could have been with my Mom in it, how my friendships could have been and how much she would have loved all my Mom friends • I’ll forever be trying to figure out the perfect way to explain the best Mom, Nana and best friend that they will never be able to meet but I’ll tell them that I hope they see a whole lot of her through me
The day my Mom died I called my husband. I said, “My person is gone. The one that knew me and loved me with all my flaws. The one, the only one who could calm my fears, she’s gone.”
Then he began to tell me a story about my Mom. A story that I never knew about her before because she didn’t want me to know.
You see on our wedding day, my Mom gave my husband a note. A note that was just for the two of them. A note with the title that said, “How to be Nikki’s person."
It was a step by step guide on what she would say and do for me when my anxiety was taking over.
Step 1: Just listen
Step 2: Listen a little more
Step 3: Don’t try and solve the problem
Step 4: Tell her you understand
Step 5: Keep listening until she’s sorted it out on her own. She will, she always does.
On my wedding day it looked like someone had thrown up the color purple and not because it was my favorite color but someone else’s • One of my bridesmaids backed out last minute and one of our cakes never arrived • My Dad wasn’t the one to walk me down the aisle, instead it was my sweet grandfather • My dress was considered risqué for a church wedding because my shoulders were showing and some of my back. In fact some family members even had my dress approved before I was able to wear it • Our wedding was under two thousand dollars, we were broke and our photographer turned out to not really even be a photographer at all so we don’t have many pictures to show from that day • Our wedding was far from traditional, my family background was opposite of my husbands and did I mention I wore ivory instead of white (insert gasp) • I say all that to tell you this is why the world needs to see Meghan Markle marry Prince Harry because the world needs a not so perfect Princess • The world needs to see real, it needs to see that just because families are different doesn’t mean love can’t win, the world needs to see that even a Princess has family drama and that’s okay • So here’s to Meghan Markle representing so many of us in the world with families that work a little differently, with ideas that might push traditional things to the brink just a little bit and showing the world that becoming a Princess doesn’t look Pinterest perfect or like a Lifetime Movie all the time and that’s okay • Here’s to the world seeing that your family background, all those traditions and even a fancy wedding won’t determine the strength of your marriage • So, Miss Markle, I’ll be cheering you on from my couch all while wearing a fancy hat I bought off Amazon as I watch you walk down that aisle knowing that you are paving the way for so many of us whose families and backgrounds look a little different #royalwedding #marriage #meghanmarkle #wedding
She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s had it figured out on her own all along.
My Mom gave up being my person not because she wanted to but because she wanted my husband to know how to be when she was no longer here. She gave up being my person so that she could make sure I would always have one no matter what.
Well Mom, you will still forever be my person.
People are deeply moved by this story of Pennington's mom deliberately giving her space to attach to another person, and many related to how she deals with anxiety. They also have "their person" who helped them when they were low, and some have lost them, too:
A beautiful reminder of how love lasts beyond separation.
To the woman that made sure she was present in every picture • The woman that attended every event and sat front row • The woman that made me believe I could be anything and do anything • The woman that was my biggest support • The woman that took my side even when I was wrong • The woman that showed me how to love others unconditionally and without conditions • The woman that could calm me down when my whole world felt like a mess • The woman that gave me the worst haircut known to man in 2nd grade • The woman that loved me despite my flaws • The woman showed me that true bravery is facing the world as a single mom and showing the world what a determined single mom is capable of accomplishing • The woman that showed me it's not about the spotless house, the neatly folded laundry or the amazing manners. It's about dancing in the rain with your babies, pillow fights, building a snowman at midnight in a blizzard and taking a mother daughter trip to Montana • To the woman that showed me what being a Mom is really about • I miss you dearly and think of you everyday. I don't need a holiday to celebrate or remember the amazing mom you were • It's because of you that I can be the mom I am to my sweet boys • Happy Mother's Day in Heaven to the woman that I am blessed to call Mom. I'll never forget you and I’ll forever be your sweet pea
Celebrate your person or the memory of your person today. It'll make them smile no matter where they are.