The morning of March 29, 2011, I received a phone call from my brother. The sound of the phone ringing as the sun rose was like nails on a chalkboard.
“Hello?” I answered curiously.
In a quivering voice he shouted, “Mommy died!”
My heart dropped. My body became weak and my soul numb. The glue that held my family together was gone. I dropped to my knees and began to pray for understanding and comfort.
I would no longer hear her witty advice or feel my mother’s unconditional love. I yearned to be in her presence one last time.
My family is no stranger to health problems. At age 40, my mom suffered from a paralyzing stroke. She spent months in the hospital. She gradually learned to move her toes and eventually walk. After years of physical therapy, she was able to regain full movement in the right side of her body.
Nine years later, a second stroke took her life. Her death that morning was unexpected.
Hearing her gasp for air, my cousin Derrick rushed to her bedside. He began CPR. Not receiving a response, he called the paramedics. Shortly after their arrival, they announced my mother’s death. I replayed our last conversation in my mind.
“Chelse, I am mad at you,” she said softly. “Why?” I asked.
“I haven’t spoken to my best friend today,” she responded.
I neglected to call my mother that Sunday. She was calling to remind me that she was not going to let the sun go down without one of our daily hour-long conversations.
Without my mother to keep me grounded, I lost my determination. Recognizing my lack of motivation, my sister introduced me to the National Students of Ailing Mothers and Fathers, a peer-grief support and community service organization.
David Fajgenbaum created and named AMF after his mom, Annie Marie Fajgenbaum, when she died from a brain tumor. There are over 44 AMF chapters in the U.S. providing support for students dealing with the illness or death of a loved one.
Founding an AMF chapter at FAMU was one step toward dealing with my loss, and gave me an opportunity to display the strength and motivation my mother gave me.
The first FAMU AMF meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept.19, in Sunshine Manor. My goal is for AMF to inspire students as it has done for me; to leave behind a legacy that my mother would be proud of.
For more information e-mail: iRattlerAMF@gmail.com.