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Remembering Mom

mom My amazingly wonderful mother passed away a year ago today. It was the saddest day of my life, as it was for the rest of my family. It hardly seems like a year has passed. Some days I forget that she is gone. I feel like sometimes I pretend it didn’t happen. Other days, the loss is so fresh and raw. My family just left me in Thailand, where I will continue another two weeks traveling to Laos and Cambodia on my own.  This was our first-ever family vacation without Mom. It was strange and just…. different without her.

The Lewis family sans Mom at Wat Rong Khoon, Thailand.

The Lewis family sans Mom at Wat Rong Khoon, Thailand.

Anyone who knew my mom would agree that she was the queen of positivity. She coined the phrase, “Make it a great day!” (much to our chagrin as young children). She had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever known and was the soul of our large, close-nit family.

Mom was passionate about helping all living things, even animals. One of her favorite charities held an adoption event in her honor.

Mom was passionate about helping all living things, even animals. One of her favorite charities held an adoption event in her honor.

It is a very difficult thing, losing a parent, not only for the loss your soul suffers, but also because you must reorient yourself in the world. The whole family dynamic is thrown out of whack. It’s like we just stand there looking at each other, wondering what we’re supposed to do. It can take a while to adjust and figure out how to take on some of the roles and responsibilities left vacant. It’s a complex task, and I think we’re still trying to figure it out. But we’ll get there.

Mom called me "princess." It wasn't meant to be sarcastic. I was the first girl (and first child for that matter). I miss that nickname. Princess LaLa.

Mom called me “princess.” It wasn’t meant to be sarcastic. I was the first girl (and first child for that matter). I miss that nickname. Princess LaLa.

It’s extremely hard for me not to get trapped in despair and devastation. I consider this a testament to how beautiful and amazing a person my mom was and how deep my love is for her. It’s not a bad thing to be sad. It’s an indicator of how blessed I was to have someone so special in my life. And now I’ll say the truth that I hate to hear: life goes on. It does. It’s a bit depressing, but as long as you acknowledge that, you can keep on trucking with the caveat that you’re going to be sad for a while (if not forever). But you can be so, so happy for the amazing time that you had together.

Besties strolling in Destin, Florida

Besties strolling in Destin, Florida

I feel so fortunate and so blessed to have had a mother who was so kind, worldly, intelligent, and above all, fiercely loving of her family. Mom taught me so many indispensable lessons, and I would like to think I picked up a couple of her many wonderful traits as a human. One of the things I loved so, so much about my mom was that she genuinely loved people. Anyone who met her would comment on how fun, happy and nice she was. She was just fun to be around- period. She always reminded us to count our blessings and be thankful for what we had and to never feel or act entitled and to embrace humility.

Three generations of Lewis women.

Three generations of Lewis women.

When a person like this is taken from you, it becomes almost impossible to see the light at the end of the very dark tunnel. Everything becomes dull, and the joy is just sucked away from life. When I looked around for something positive to focus on, I kept running into the brick wall of “what’s the point?” Life suddenly and all at once becomes trite and almost meaningless. But the challenge (I’m always up for a challenge) is rediscovering the point of it all: the beauty of life and why it is important to go on. This is the main reason I started traveling so frequently over the last six months. I had to go out in the world and rediscover its beauty- in its nature and in its peoples’ cultures- again.

So much love

So much love

I will say that I am still sad. I always will be. And that is OK. But I am reinvigorated. I have a new “lease on life.” I will honor Mom’s memory and endeavor to always make her proud by being the best me that I can be and by trying to be thankful and to enjoy every precious minute of my life on this planet. I will follow my dreams and make them a reality. I will have the happy, healthy family I know she wants me to have. And I will invoke her spirit and love all to the best of my ability, through understanding and sharing.

I can’t think of a more perfect place to be right now, remembering my mom and feeling her presence. The people of Thailand and Cambodia are probably the friendliest, loveliest people I’ve ever met. Passers-by greet you with a smile or stop you on the street to ask you where you are from, how you are enjoying their country and offer friendly tourist advice. If you leave money or even an expensive camera at a restaurant table, they will chase after you to return it. It is very refreshing to know that such genuine goodness in people exists on a large scale. It is healing.

Adventurous Mom- in her scuba diving days

Adventurous Mom- in her scuba diving days

Scuba Me- last October in Sulawesi, Indonesia

Scuba Me- last October in Sulawesi, Indonesia

I can attest to the healing nature of human kindness. When it presents itself in the form of a whole nation of people projecting kindness and genuine well-wishes on to perfect strangers, it is divine.

Wat Rong Khoon, Thailand. The Thai refer to this temple as “Heaven,” as this is how they picture divinity.

Wat Rong Khoon, Thailand. The Thai refer to this temple as “Heaven,” as this is how they picture divinity.

I may be having an epiphany: the remedy to human sorrow is the kindness of strangers. What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by!

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34 Responses to Remembering Mom

  1. blackbeanbrownies December 4, 2012 at 10:38 AM #

    Very sorry for your loss, sometimes even time can not heal the pain.

    • The Traveluster December 4, 2012 at 8:28 PM #

      Thank you, blackbeanbrownies. It’s true. The pain never goes away, you just learn to manage it in your life. Thank you for reading and for your comment! Your blog looks very interesting! I love cooking and am a bit of a health nut (at home, not at all on the road!) I just started following your blog and look forward to exploring your recipes when I get back to the U.S. in a couple of weeks!

      • blackbeanbrownies December 4, 2012 at 10:05 PM #

        Thank you!! Yes it’s not easy finding choices on the road, but enjoy yourself! Looking forward to hearing feedback. ;)

  2. Sara Catella December 4, 2012 at 10:56 AM #

    Dear Lindsay, your words are so beautiful and deep and show the love for your wonderful mom. Sometimes life is simply not right and take the away the people we love the most. We feel an infinite and insurmountable void. I use to say that pain will never go away we simply learn to live with it, but you are right, life goes on, life is beautiful and we have to appreciate every single moment. Travelling is a way to see and feel the beauty of this planet, the kindness of the people you meet a long the way and to bring with us all our memories and to make new ones.
    I’m very happy to have met you in the magic Africa, you are a beautiful soul!
    Sara

    • The Traveluster December 4, 2012 at 8:24 PM #

      Thank you! Meeting people like you while traveling is my inspiration!

  3. l-jeezy December 4, 2012 at 12:53 PM #

    linds… this is beautiful. almost as beautiful as she was.

    i was telling a pegasus story over thanksgiving to my mom while we cooked. we laughed and then cried a little bit – not only over the loss of your dynamic mother but also over how hard this last year has been for you. healing is the hardest part, and i am so proud of your resilient spirit. you have many of your mother’s traits – love of family, fierce dedication to friends, “live life to the fullest” attitude, and so much more.

    she will never be forgotten. the love she gave lives on through all of us. december 4th will forever be her day.

    your epiphany is spot on – these are special moments.

    love.

    • The Traveluster December 4, 2012 at 8:30 PM #

      You helped me get through the darkest of days. I will always be forever thankful for you! Love back atcha!

  4. Chris December 4, 2012 at 1:36 PM #

    very well done. she lives through you.

  5. Stephanie strain December 4, 2012 at 7:43 PM #

    What a lovely glimpse into your beautiful soul and this sad yet incredibly enlightening journey you’ve been on. Your descriptive and insightful prose captured and inspired me!

    • The Traveluster December 4, 2012 at 8:23 PM #

      Thank you! I tend to over-share, but that’s just who I am. :) I think I just want people to really understand me and that experiences we have in life make us who we are.

  6. Jeff Nelson December 4, 2012 at 8:55 PM #

    Lindsay,

    I came across your post tonight on LinkedIn. I was unaware of the passing of your mom, but thought you did an incredible job of describing her in your post. (My condolences to your and your family). I can truly say that she was one of the kindest people I have ever met. I know she has passed all her amazing qualities on to you. I loved your pictures, and hope this reply finds you happy and healthy.

    Best,
    Jeff Nelson

  7. Becky Gottsegen December 4, 2012 at 11:30 PM #

    So beautifully written, Lindsay, and I am so glad that you shared it with us all. Your mom was such a special lady and I think of her so often and am so saddened by the loss of her for all who loved her. We know she is up there in heaven taking charge and making everyone else feel special and loved! xoxox

    • The Traveluster December 5, 2012 at 6:11 AM #

      Thanks, Becky! She is such a force to be reckoned with, I know she is still here…

  8. Kaci Ferachi Nobles January 16, 2013 at 3:04 PM #

    Linds-
    I absolutely loved reading about your mom. Although I did not know her well, she sounded like an amazing woman and I can see the love in your pictures. Thanks for sharing your stories. They are so very inspiring. My heart goes out to you and your family as you try to find your path.
    Much love,
    Kaci

    • The Traveluster January 17, 2013 at 9:01 AM #

      Thanks, Kaci, for your kind words and support! It means so much to me!

  9. Meg March 7, 2014 at 10:05 AM #

    Hi. I don’t know you… But I wanted to let you know how much your posts related to your mom have helped me. I lost my mom (66) last week to pancreatic cancer. She was diagnosed only 5 months ago during routine tests for something unrelated. I was googling randomly to try to find something to help me cope. There are so many emotions related to the diagnosis, watching the cancer take over, and her eventual death. You wrote so beautifully about how it affected you and your family, especially trying to accept that “life goes on”. It was so helpful to read someone’s thoughts that are so similar to how I have been feeling. I’m very sorry for your loss. Our moms really will live on in us and the memories will be forever cherished. Thanks for writing about this. I’m sure you have helped others feel less alone.

    • Lindsay March 7, 2014 at 11:46 PM #

      Meg, your comment truly touched me. I am tearing right now, because it is the greatest compliment I can receive, that I’ve helped someone in some way and can be relatable. The loneliness of loss and the emotional toil it has on you is often harder than the actual loss itself. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t blog strictly about life’s struggles as opposed to travel ;-) but in my case, travel is my lifeline that gets me through the hard times in life (and there are so, so many). My favorite thing about travel is connecting to other people. I also feel a deep and profound connection to people who have also struggled with such a huge loss. Empathy is an extremely powerful force. Thank you again for your beautifully kind words. I am so, truly sorry for your loss. Please email me if you ever want to “talk” more, as it is such an emotional roller coaster.

  10. Tim March 28, 2014 at 4:36 PM #

    I came across your blog today and my eyes fell immediately to this post. I am having a difficult time deciding whether or not to post a similar story about my mum. It’s difficult because I am not sure where the balance of enough and too much is. Did you have anything negative happen because of your willingness to share such an intimate subject? Thanks, Tim

    • Lindsay March 30, 2014 at 2:11 PM #

      Hey Tim. A lot of my personal writing in this forum or any other is for myself. It’s an outlet for me to share, grieve, express, and I’m sharing because I want to. I really want people to know who I am and where I’m coming from. Losing my mother was the single most significantly emotional thing that’s ever happened to me in my life and was the catalyst for this blog, so therefore part of my story. I think there is a risk of over-sharing, but the nature of a blog is the personal slant. If you’re running an online travel publication or magazine, then you’re audience is different and might not appreciate your personal musings as much. I’ve actually found that my most popular posts are these inner-personal reflections that have less to do with travel and more to do with life’s struggles. Sometimes, I’d like to write more about that. At the end of the day, most of us are just looking for ways to connect with one another and make sense of this crazy and sometimes cruel world we live in, or share in the joys of it. That’s where I really get enjoyment from this line of work. A couple of family members were a little taken aback by me sharing such personal family information in a public forum, but when they realized that this is part of my grieving and coping process, I think they stepped back. All other feedback I received was positive. In fact, I’ve received a number of personal emails from people reaching out going through similar situations saying how my posts(s) helped them or they just wanted someone to talk to. To me, that is the most rewarding thing that could happen- as it’s really hard to connect with people unless they can empathize with you. I wanted to put my story out there and say- hey, I’m here. I can empathize. Let’s help each other through this…. It’s been a great experience. Long way of saying- go for it. Tell your story- from the heart, if you’d like. You will be pleasantly surprised.

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