I stress myself out more than the average human.

This much I know.

First comes the fast, incessant talking. Then the teeth grinding. Then the pacing back and forth; my mind going a million miles an hour in circles like a racetrack. At this point, my adrenal glands have gone into overdrive and I start to feel a drunken kind of dizziness. I’m hot all over, cheeks flushed, mouth dry.

My mom used to tell me that I worked myself into a “tizzy” when this would happen to me in adolescence. Her telling me that just made me more anxious, angrier, more stressed.

Then she would hug me and let me take deep breaths into her shoulder until I calmed down.

Once when I was about 10, I was staying over at my grandmother’s house and came down with a terrible flu; the kind that makes your entire body feel like it’s engulfed in flames while simultaneously being hit with 1,000 lead hammers. I was sleeping in the same room as my mom on the bottom part of my grandma’s old trundle bed, and sporadically throughout the night go through bouts of intense pain where my entire body would freeze up.

When I thought the pain would never subside, my mom put her hand gently on my chest until the pain passed.

Another instance when I was 13 and I had my heart broken for the first time. I spent an entire night in her arms, sobbing, shedding the tears of young love and fresh heartache.

Her arms always made me feel safe. Her hands like novocaine, her hugs like a sedative.

Then there was the day when she told me that her doctor had given her 2-4 weeks to live. This time she was in just as much pain, if not more than me. I sat in her arms for 15 minutes? An hour?

It was like her presence could stop time; somehow make this horrendous situation a little easier.

And finally the night before she passed. She was weak, but not broken, laying in bed in between my brother and I.

The room was silent as I pressed my head to her back and wrapped my arms around her, listening to her slow breaths and heavy heartbeat.

If I close my eyes long enough, I can still feel that moment. Her smell. Her skin. The way so many unsaid words hung in the air like an impending thunderstorm; the clouds about to burst with the weight of the world.

After she died, I thought the tears would never stop, the pain would never end. And in many ways it hasn’t, it’s just become different.

It’s days like today where that un-fillable void becomes apparent.

I felt myself spinning out of control, into one of my “tizzies.”

There has always been something about me and control that can set me over the edge.

Obviously, in my 27 and some odd months of my existence, I’ve developed various ways to cope with my stress; some constructive, some destructive.

But there has never been anything quite as effective as taking my mother’s hand, hearing my mother’s voice, being enveloped in her arms. Sometimes I want a hug from her so badly that it feels like my heart has been ripped freshly open; the crack in the dam that has been hermetically sealed time and again, but always seems to break even with all it’s strength.

Today I needed a hug from you.

I needed words from someone whom will never be able to answer me.

I suppose what gets me through days like there is realizing that the pain will always pass, the tears will always dry, the wrongs will always right, the stream leads to the river that leads to the ocean.

The heart wants to beat.

The lungs want to fill.

It will be okay.

Tonight I’ll get by on the memories, and hope that someday I can do the same for someone else as you did for me.

Shannon Rose Allen

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