Originally Published November 15, 2022 by Fifty Shades of Mommy

Do you remember when you were a kid and you thought 40 was SO OLD?! Ya, me too. And here we are…

I just turned 40 a few weeks ago. I was dreading this age so much. Not as much as when I turned 30 (which is an entirely different story to tell another time), but still felt pretty down about it. So I went big. I went to Vegas with a girlfriend of mine and gambled and ate so much delicious food I could barely walk and had an overall really nice time.

It was still so blah though. I don’t FEEL like an old person. I certainly don’t LOOK like an old person (thanks Asian genes!). I mean, I lost enough weight this past year that I weigh the same as I did when I graduated high school. I’m in better shape today than I was 10 years ago and I should be happy about that! But I’m always tired, and I know that’s going to get worse. But not only am I physically tired, I’m mentally tired.

What makes me sad about this age is that I’ve started having to ask questions like, “Are we really at the age when this stuff starts happening??” Let me explain.

This year has been tough, and that might be an understatement. Last fall, my husband and I bought a business and we both kept our full-time jobs as well. And obviously you know I have three small children (who are now 7, 5 and 3 years old). I’ve lost 40lbs (how ironic). I’ve watched my mom disappear from us while she suffered from FTD (Frontotemporal Dementia). I’ve watched the decline in health of some of my relatives and friends. I’ve seen friends that are MY AGE have heart attacks and several other health conditions where they need to be on medication for the rest of their lives. I’ve seen my friends lose their spouses/partners. I’ve seen my friends lose their parents. I LOST MY MOM. This year has been nothing short of absolute shit.

Losing a Parent Will Change You Forever

I never thought I’d be 40 years old and not have my mom. She was only 69 when she died. Her mom died when she was 96. So I thought I had plenty of years left with her. Even though she was diagnosed about a year ago with FTD, that isn’t what she died from. She died in such a tragic way that I don’t even want to describe it. Maybe someday I will, but today is not that day. When we received the coroner’s report, it showed that she died of a heart attack – she had cardiomyopathy, something I have to worry about now for the rest of my life.

There are so many things that make me sad about not having my mom in my life anymore. The number one reason is my kids. They will never get to enjoy so many things about her that they should have been able to. They’re too young to remember the things she did with them in their lives and that makes me sad. I have zero memories of my grandma that passed away when I was 2ish. So I know they won’t either. The only way they will know her is from pictures and stories. They won’t remember the cute Korean songs she sang to them, or the way she would read to them, or dance with them, or color with them, or the amazing food she always prepared for us, or the thoughtfulness behind each gift she gave them.

And let’s talk about how hard it is to tell young kids that their Harmony (this is what they call her because that is grandma in Korean) is gone and they will never see her again. I dreaded that conversation so much. I was still in disbelief and sleep deprived. But I had to look at them in their tiny little faces and tell them that Harmony was gone and that she wasn’t coming back. We don’t hide death in our family. In fact, we were at Kevin’s grandpa’s funeral just a few months before all of this. And the one that understood the most? Well, that was my super sensitive over thinker, Landon. Who doesn’t forget things. He asked lots of questions. I obviously didn’t tell him everything, but someday I will. We told them that she was very sick and her heart was very sick and that she couldn’t live any longer. He said, ‘Oh, like Grandpa Jack! He was very old and very sick and he died. And he was 93!’ He asked how old she was. He asked if she was going to come visit us again. So. Many. Questions. And I had to sit there and hold it all together and answer them, the best that I could. After that, we went to a friend’s house for dinner and then I went to play volleyball (where I ended up hurting my elbow and needed to be in a sling) to keep my mind off of things.

Days went by and I would find Landon crying in the toy room all by himself. And when I would ask him what was wrong, he would sniffle out a few words. Those words were, “Harmony is dead.” And then I would hold him in my arms and tell him that it is ok to cry, and ok to hurt and I was there for him no matter what. We would talk about something fun Harmony did when she last visited or why it hurts when someone dies. And I would always end up in tears with him. And I had that realization that no one was doing these things for me. I had no choice but to do these things for my son.

So I hid from everything and everyone. Walked around like a shell of a human being. Smiled for my husband and kids, my boss and my customers, but I was dying inside. I would sit at my desk and try to work and I would find myself reading the same paragraph over and over and I would burst into tears. I would hide while at the bowling alley so I didn’t have to hear about how someone’s parents died and how they got through it and that they were sorry for me, all while looking at me in pity. I actually didn’t mind the sling on my arm because people had something else to focus on and ask me about. For 2 months straight I did things that would make me not feel my feelings.

You really find out who your true friends are when you’re hurting as well. I tried to talk to certain people and they weren’t really people that were there for me, even though I had been there for them. I had people checking up on me and asking how I was doing that I didn’t want to ask me these things. But in the end I really feel like I had no one to talk to. So I stuffed it all down and I’m still dealing with that today.

My one and only sister and I would talk every now and then and laugh and cry and scream about things together. And for that I’m very grateful. I couldn’t and still can’t talk to my dad about it. Because yes, I’ve lost my mom, but he’s also lost his life partner. And I can’t imagine that pain either, but that is what he is focused on.

I still feel like there is so much to be said sometimes but I hide it even better than I did before. I know that’s not a ‘healthy’ solution but I guess that’s why I’m here, telling my story. Everyone around me knows that I’m a very strong person. So when I’m not strong, they don’t know how to handle it. I try to be there for everyone. I know I spread myself too thin doing that even, so I just thought that I could have someone that I could cry to and express myself to. There are very few people out there that can handle that. I know that now. There are very few people that can just LISTEN and be sympathetic/empathetic. And there are very few people I feel comfortable sharing these feelings and thoughts with. It’s a very eye opening experience. But I will never change who I am, I will always be that person for someone if that is what they need. Call me too nice, or whatever you want to say about me, I don’t really care. I know what it’s like on both sides.

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