Everything My Mother Taught me About Life Before She Passed Away by Bianca Sparacino
1. Your looks are the least interesting thing about you.
I know that in this day and age, we tend to associate beauty with goodness, or worthiness, or value. But at the end of the day, you can be the most beautiful human being in a room, but if your energy is off, it doesn’t matter. You still have work to do.
You have to trust me when I say that you are so much more than your appearance. And I know it can be difficult to believe that when you’re living in an age of comparison, in an age that sometimes makes you think you have to be perfect in order to be loved.
But real love? Thats soul. Attraction, that’s flesh. That’s weightless. It isn’t impressive to turn a head or to turn someone on. What’s impressive is being able to inspire someone. What’s impressive is being able to connect.
Take care of your mind, take care of your heart. It is what people are going to remember about you. My mom spent her whole life trying to be smaller for those around her, and not one person revered her for the way her body looked. Not one person stood and shook my hand and said “your mom changed my life because she was just so physically beautiful.” But they did stand beside me and hug me and tell me that my mom did the same for them. They did tell me that my mom’s presence, that her soul, that the way in which she crashed her heart into those she met — that is what lasted within them. That is the legacy she left. It was all soul. It had nothing to do with what she looked like.
So now, I want you to think about all of the people you have cared deeply for in your life, and all of the human beings who have affected you, or changed you, or grown you. Think about all of the people who have made you feel seen, the people who have made you laugh from deep within your chest, the people who have left you with memories you have tucked into your heart, the people who have left you with the kind of feeling that sticks to your bones. Think about all of the people you cherish, all of the people you want by your side, all of the people who make you feel safe and grounded ad foolishly curious and happy in a bewildering way And now think about how you didn’t associate any of those moments, or feelings, or memories, with what they looked like. They didn’t affect you because they were good looking. They touched you, and inspired you, because they were good people.
Focus on being yourself. Focus on sharing your heart with the world. That is what holds weight when it is all said and done. People will forget about the clothes you wore, they’ll forget about who you were externally. But they will remember what you taught them, what you have made them feel. And that is the real beauty in life.
2. You cannot love somebody into loving you, or being ready.
Not everyone you feel something deep and meaningful with is going to be ready to hold your heart.
If you are in love with someone who cannot love you back at the moment, please, understand that this is not a reflection of your goodness, this is not a reflection of your worth. Sometimes life weathers people in different ways. We are all on this Earth just trying to figure ourselves out, just trying to mend the breaks in our souls, just trying to deal with what is heavy within us. Sometimes, we’re ready and another person is not. Sometimes, we try, and another person does not. Sometimes, we pour ourselves into another human being and they cannot contain all that we are. Sometimes, we fight, and another person surrenders. Sometimes, we choose to make things work, and another person decides that they cannot choose that same reality. And that is okay. I need you to understand that that is okay.
Because at the end of the day, if someone does not meet you where you are, you cannot keep asking them to do so. If someone cannot reciprocate your love, if someone cannot give you what you truly deserve, you have to understand that aching for them to do so before they are ready is a form of self destruction. Your heart is a vast and tender thing, you cannot keep trying to shrink it into what someone else needs. You cannot keep pouring your love into a vessel that cannot contain it. You cannot keep pouring your love into a soul that has not opened their eyes to all that they are receiving. You cannot keep pouring your love into a heart that is closed off to it. It will only leave you empty. You have to walk away. You have to let this person grow on their own terms, because you can’t love someone into their potential. You can’t love someone into being ready. They have to do that on their own.
And I know how hard it is to walk away from someone you deeply care for. I know how hard it is to lay all of that love down, to close your heart off to all that it sees in another human being. But in walking away you will learn how to pour all of the love that you were giving to the wrong person, back into yourself. And you will learn how to pour it into all that you desire in life, you will learn how to pour it into your growth, into your art, into your hope. You will learn how to stand up for your feeling, how to stand up for its value. And when you teach yourself that you deserve to be loved, without having to beg for that love, without having to chase that love down, you open yourself to the kind of beauty that chooses you just as freely as you choose it. You open yourself to the kind of people who see you and immediately know that you are a rare and beautiful thing. You open yourself to new beginnings, to a future that unfolds in ways that don’t hurt or break you down, but rather, build you up, and show you just how worthy you are of having your heart held.
3. Your person is going to be your person for life — make sure that you have someone by your side who loves you in your dark days just as much as your light ones.
My parent’s chose one another, every single day. Not just when life was shiny and beautiful, not just when they were young and had no issues and it was easy to fall in love with the beauty and the joy of youth and ease and calm that exists in the world when it hasn’t weathered you yet. My parents chose one another and when they did start to experience hardship, when they did start to struggle, they still chose one another. They were a team if I had ever seen one. They had foundational love. It wasn’t skinny love, it was nourished, it was something they both walked into and continued to believe in even when things got hard.
And when my mother got sick, that is when this lesson truly hit home for me. I saw my father meet her where she was. I saw the way she reached for him when she was scared, those simple and small moments where you notice the love two people share — I saw it in so many ways as he tried to take care of her. Just knowing he was in the same room as her calmed her. He slept by her side every single night when she was in the hospital. For one year he waited on her, he made her comfortable, he learned everything he could in order to ensure that he could take care of her, that she didn’t have to suffer. He fought so hard, so fucking hard, for her. He did not give up once. He did not turn his back on her. And I saw how much she appreciated that — how much it softens a person to really connect with the fact that they are loved, unconditionally, pragmatically, how much it means when someone stays. He was there with her when she passed away. He held her and calmed her and really made sure that she felt his love.
Please, know that you deserve that. And someone who does not value you or respect you right now, if someone questions you or makes you feel like your heart is too much right now, when things are relatively easy, when things are relatively simple in life — just know that they are not your person. You need someone who stands firmly in front of you and knows that they want to care for you, knows that they want to make you a place in their heart, because that is the kind of certainty and love that lasts. Please, wait for it. It exists.
4. Be the person who cares, have the courage to love deeply.
My mother always said — if you want to know how to change the world in even the smallest of ways, here’s how: Every single day — just be the person who cares. Be the reason why someone else believes in the goodness of people. Give people faith.
I hope you have the courage to keep loving deeply in a world that sometimes fails to do so. In a generation that orders up attention like they order up a meal, in a generation that has started to love with one foot out the door, I hope you have the courage to believe that genuine connection still exists. And I hope you have the courage to stand up for that, to open yourself to it when you start to feel it bloom within the heart of you. I hope you have the courage to appreciate it for all that it is, to not approach it wearing a mask, to not try to desensitise yourself to it or play it cool. Please, I hope you have the courage to crash your heart into the people life gifts you. I hope you have the courage to believe that goodness still exists, that there are those who have the capacity to love the way you do, that there are those who will see you and grow you and teach you more about the world. I hope you have the courage to fight for connection. I hope you have the courage to go deeper. To never exist on the surface of your life, even if it’s easier or more convenient. At the end of the day you should leave this world with a heart that is worn out and soft all over. A heart that is bruised from loving, and feeling, and caring in the best way possible. At the end of the day, you should be proud of your inability to be anything but open to the world. You should be proud of who you are and how you showed up. You should know that you cared with conviction. That you never let the things that hurt you in life turn you into someone you weren’t. That you always chose to care.
5. Real life exists outside of your phone.
Real life is so much more interesting than anything you will see on social media. So please, just put down your phone, and pick up your head. Be present with the human beings you spend your time with, be present with yourself, be present with the world. Don’t forget to live because you think you’re living through your phone. Trust me when I say — real life is the feeling you get when you support your friends and see them doing the things that make their cells dance. Real life is 8am, wrapped within the limbs of someone who makes your stomach feel like it is buzzing with an electric kind of happiness. Real life is kissing your mother’s face and hearing about the first time she saw your father. Real life is sitting with yourself, in all of your depth and your decay, and not distracting your mind from all that is seeking to be felt within you. Real life is gritty, it breaks you open, and it is meant to weather you in the most beautiful and meaningful ways, but you will miss all of that if you are looking down. Always choose to look up.
6. You can do hard things.
My mother was always so headstrong in this. She always made sure that I grew up knowing that I was capable of setting myself free from any boundary, or any pain, or any darkened circumstance. She always made sure to remind me that I was strong enough of weathering the storms, that I was capable of saving myself.
And I know it can be difficult to hear things like that when you are genuinely in the weeds of life, when life feels heavy and dark and you truly do not believe that you will come out the other side of your grief or your hardship. But you do. You always do. That’s the thing — there is no way to give you a guideline or to tell you that you have to do it a certain way. There is no way to perfect the journey, you just have to keep moving forward within it. And you will take five steps forward, and 10 steps back, but that is still movement. That is still growth, and progress.
At the end of the day, you can do hard things. You can overcome. You can have hard conversations. You can bet on yourself and you can prove your doubt wrong. You can turn every single loss you have ever experienced into a lesson. You can shape yourself from the debris.
Losing my mother taught me that I can do hard things. And not because I was strong and unaffected, not because I wasn’t breaking down, not because the journey was faultless and it was easy for me to navigate my healing. But I could do hard things because I showed up to do them, even if it was imperfectly. Even if I broke down. Even if I felt tender. No matter how soft I felt, no matter how lost I felt, I woke up in the morning, and I did whatever I had to do to tuck light in between my bones, I did whatever I had to do in order to remind myself that goodness existed here, that I was capable of finding it, that things were always, always going to be okay. That I was going to be strong enough to live without her, that I was going to be strong enough to become to person I always wanted to be, that I was strong enough to let go, to walk away, to ask for what I needed, to stand up for myself and my heart and the life I wanted to live. No matter how difficult that was for me.
And so now I get to remind you — you can do hard things. The thing, you’re thinking about right now? The thing you think you can’t survive? The thing you think will never feel calm, the way in which you think the hope will never crack within your chest again? I promise, that isn’t the case. Whatever you do, just believe that. Just do anything you can do to believe that. Keep going. Nothing is going to defeat you. Nothing has the capacity to destroy you, unless you allow for it to. So keep going. Please, keep going. You’re going to look back on these moments in your future and you are going to be so glad that you trusted in your healing. You are going to be so glad that you chose to believe that there was more for you.
7. Life is meant to be lived.
Life is meant to be lived.
You have to chase the things that ignite you. You have to do the things that bring you joy.
You have to surround yourself with the people who bring you home to yourself, with the people who respect you and nurture you in ways that make you feel like you are worthy, and accepted, and loved.
You have to do the work to heal yourself, even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts, so that you do not continue to approach your life within the boundary of what is heavy within you.
You have to put yourself out there, and you cannot worry about what other people think, you cannot rob yourself of experience or happiness or inspiration because you are scared of how you will be perceived. You have to be unapologetic in the way that you exist here. You have to believe that your ideas, and your hope, and your being, deserves to take up space. You have to believe that you have purpose here.
Because, and I say this in the most freeing way — we are all living on borrowed time. Our existence is finite. We live as if we are promised the experiences and the potential we are chasing, we live as if we have control over what happens to us. But we don’t, and that is liberating, because it is pressing. It wakes you up when you connect with that. You are not promised tomorrow. So how are you going to ensure that you crash your heart into your life? How are you going to ensure that you leave this world, whenever it happens for you, with a soul that is tender and full and weathered in the best way? With a soul that was never asked to make itself smaller, with a soul that was never waiting for the day it was or skinnier, or prettier, or cooler, or more successful, in order to take advantage of the time it was given?
That is what losing my mother taught me. That we cannot wait to be the people we have always dreamed of being. We cannot wait for life to perfect itself. There is no right time, there is no perfect circumstance. We have to leap, even when our legs are shaking. We have to show up for ourselves, not in 3 months, or 5 years, or 10 years, but now. Because every single day is a blessing. Every single day is a gift. We cannot lose sight of that.