The Guilt I Carried

March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

The last time I flew was 1999.   I had gone to visit my mother.

I didn’t know that when I stepped on that plane, it would be the very last time I’d ever fly.

When that vacation was over and I walked out of my childhood home to go to the airport–it was the last day I’d ever be in that house.

The living room where my mom and I laughed together as I was growing up.

 That kitchen table where we had so many conversations about life.

 The last time I’d walk out that door and see her waving at me from the front step.

 I never went back.

 I’d gained too much weight.  I could no longer fly.  So she came to see me.

As the years went by, it became harder for my mother to fly.  She was getting older.

And she traveled alone.

When I was 12, my dad left.  And she never remarried.

 Three jobs.
 Getting a masters degree.
 Working 50 hours a week.
 And then there was me.

She told me that I was more important than having a social life.
She sacrificed for me.
But now she was alone.

And I sat on my couch waiting for her to come see me.

 Even though she had high blood pressure.
 Even though she had arthritis in her hip.

 And I knew that.

But still she had to come see me.

She had to come see her grandchildren if she wanted them to know her.

 Because I couldn’t fly.
 I was too big.
 I was 400 pounds. Maybe 450.  Who knew anymore

So I sat and I waited. And she always came.  Because she loved me.

Then she got breast cancer.  And she didn’t even tell me about it.

 She knew I couldn’t fly.  She knew there was nothing I could do.

 Besides, she worried that I was going to be the one to die. I could barely walk.  I could barely function.

 But now she was the one with cancer.  The one needing help.

And she didn’t want me to feel sad about that.  My inability to help her.

She was always shielding me.  Protecting me.

So she didn’t tell me.

And once again my weight took me out of the equation.

She beat cancer.  She did call to tell me about that.

 I found out she had cancer and that she was cured of cancer on the same day.

Worried and relieved all in the same minute.

But now I felt new resolve.

This made it real.

My mother was a human being after all.  She was vulnerable.  I had always thought she was superwoman  because she had overcome so much in life.

But now I knew that I had to get this weight off.  I had to make sure that I could help her if I needed to.

I wanted to be the daughter that she deserved.

I started making plans to have weight loss surgery.

I hadn’t yet talked to my Mom about it.  But I planned to.

There was no reason to bring it up just yet. I would talk to her about it after Christmas I decided.

Every Christmas my mom went overboard.  All out. She bought the toy store.

 But not this Christmas.

This year she sent me a check and a card saying shopping was too hard this year.
She didn’t know why.
It was just too much.

Something was wrong.
I should have known that.
But I didn’t.

 I couldn’t think that.  I couldn’t feel that.

Nothing could be wrong.  I needed her.  So I pushed it aside.

That was what I did.

Take whatever I couldn’t handle and bury it under a box of donuts and cupcakes.

Because that makes it all better?

It was Christmas day.

We talked on the phone.  She was at my brother’s apartment spending the day with him.

He lived close by to her.  I was glad she was there but I missed her.

Next Christmas, I thought.  I’ll have had the surgery by then.  I’ll have lost weight. I’ll be able to fly. Yes…Next Christmas I’ll spend it with her.  Finally. I’ll finally be able to fly again.

I didn’t call my mom the day after Christmas.  I thought about it.  But something got in the way.

 Maybe I got busy with the kids. Busy with life.

I can’t remember what I was doing that day.

Whatever I was doing–it wasn’t calling my mother.

On the last day that I could.

The very last day that she would ever answer the phone again.

She walked past the phone that day.
Of that I’m sure.
But it didn’t ring.
And I didn’t call.

The next morning very early I got a call from my brother.  But I was still asleep.

The voicemail said

“Call me. It’s important”.

I knew something was wrong.

“Don’t panic”, he said” Don’t freak out.”

And then he told me.

Mom fell.
She hit her head.
She had a heart attack.

 They had taken her to the hospital and stabilized her.

 She was alive 

But she hadn’t wanted anyone to call me.
She didn’t want me to worry.
Because she knew there was nothing I could do.

She knew I couldn’t fly.

And she didn’t want me to feel bad about that.
There she goes again.
Shielding me.
Protecting me.

So she asked them to wait.  To call me tomorrow. When things settled down.

I didn’t call her either.
To say hello
To say I love you.

Because if I had I would have found out she was in the hospital.

And I could have had that last conversation with her.  

But I didn’t.

What was I doing while my mother was falling?

While she lay alone bleeding on the floor waiting for paramedics to arrive?

What was I doing while my mother was having a heart attack?

 Eating my donuts? Eating my brownies? 

Face first into my drug–my food?

What was I doing when she was laying in a hospital bed not wanting to worry me?

 What was I doing that was so important that I didn’t call her?

But then that morning I got my brother’s call.

 She’d had a stroke in the night.

A complete brain hemmorhage.

 And now she was on life support.  No brain activity.  It was just a matter of time.

No.  No.  No.  No.  NO

I shut the door to my bedroom
Turned on the shower and let the water run.
Turned the music up
Because I had to scream.
To cry
And the cries coming out of me felt like knives cutting through my heart.
Each one more painful than the last
Each one slicing through my chest
And I thought I was going to go insane
But I didn’t want to scare the children.

Because I remembered what my mom told me when I was going through my divorce.

And I would call her crying.

She would say to me, “Holly–where are the children?

Because she didn’t want them to get scared.  Seeing me so upset.

So I did what Mom told me to do.

I went in the room and turned on all the noise to drown out the sound of my own despair.

I know this isn’t happening. I know it isn’t. Because it’s my mom and I need her.  She can’t leave.  She can’t do this.  She won’t.  She promised me that she would always be there.  That she would never leave. 

When my husband left me and I wanted to die she told me:

 “As long as I’m alive, you’ll never be alone“.

Please just let me have one more conversation. 
 Please let me turn back the clock.

But it was too late.

 The clock turns back for no one.

She was on life support for 3 days.

 Long enough for me to get a plane ticket.

 Long enough for me to get there and hold her hand one last time. 

 Kiss her on the cheek.  

      Crawl into the bed with her and say goodbye.

But I couldn’t fit on a plane.

 I could barely get out of my chair.

So I sat here.  In my recliner.  For 3 days.
 Until she died

My brother was there.
He was there to hold her hand.
To say goodbye.

He never left her side.  For 3 whole days. He was there until the end.

I’m grateful for that.  I’m glad she wasn’t alone.

If it was up to me, she would have been.
 Because I was over 400 pounds.

And because of that, my mother spent the last 3 days of her life on this earth without me.

When I was little, my mom was always there for me.  When I was an adult, that didn’t change.

She was there when I needed her.  The one person I knew I could always count on.

And when she fell and hurt her head–when she lay bleeding on the floor–I wasn’t there.

When she laid in a hospital bed after a heart attack, I was no where to be found.

And when she spent the last 3 days of her life with a tube down her throat, I was 1600 miles away because I couldn’t fit on a plane.

This is what overeating did to my life.  
This is what my overeating did to her life.

I asked my brother out of desperation and shock,

How could she leave me?”

He said:

“She didn’t want to. When I got to the apartment and the paramedics had just arrived, she was laying on the floor and she looked over at me and said “I’m sorry

That’s what my mom said.

SHE’S sorry

What does she have to be sorry for? She gave us everything.  Her whole life.  Right up to the end.

 But that was my mother. She always puts her children before herself.

 And even when she was bleeding…dying…. she felt guilty.

Guilty that she was leaving her children.

That was how selfless my mother was.  And now she’s gone.

And the last moments of her life on earth were stolen from me because I put FOOD before her.

Before everyone.

It’s taken me over a year to even put this into words.

 It’s my private shame. 

 It’s the guilt I have carried.

And you know what?

It’s too much of a burden.  It’s too great a shame to withstand.

Sometimes in life we fall too far. And the guilt is too great for our own heart to bear.

Because what’s done is done.  It can’t be changed.  And this is what we have to live with.

So I tried to live with it.
Day in and day out.
But it was too much for me.

And there wasn’t enough food in the universe to numb this pain.

I was sinking.  And I can’t afford to sink.  Because I have children who depend on me.

And in that dark moment, God said:

It’s awful.  I know.  And even though you feel you don’t deserve it, I’m going to help you withstand this shame. This guilt. Because I’m going to carry it for you. Please let me  show you some compassion. (Isaiah 30:18)

But how?

“As far as the East is from the West, that’s how far I’m going to throw it. This guilt…this shame…I’m taking it off your shoulders” (Psalms 103;12)      

“I am casting it into the sea” (Micah 7:19)

And my mother?  She forgave me before it happened.  I know that.

Because I know her.

But what happened.
How it all went down.

That can never happen again.

No amount of food can be worth that pain.

I know my mom is in in heaven now where there is no more pain and no more tears.

 But I’m still here on earth.  Where the tears flow.

Some days I forgive myself.  Some days I don’t.

But God is healing me.  And He’s making me a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I love you, Mom

One of my favorite pictures of my mom. This was taken during my college years.
My best friend, Amanda on the left. My mom in the middle.  And me.

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

40 Minus 100 March 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I can't even find words. ((((((hug)))))))


Michelle Jackson March 8, 2012 at 6:37 pm

My dear, sweet, Holly, how very brave of you to share this. Your mother knows your heart. She knows you love her and always have. What a precious relationship you must have had. My heart goes out to you for your loss. And I know your mother would be proud of you for the strength you have found in yourself. It sounds like you are very much like her.


Staci's Slimdown March 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Girl, I call my parents every day. I missed calling them yesterday. All I did was worry that Daddy would die and I didn't speak to him yesterday. I am a BIG Daddy's girl! He had his first heart attack when I was 2. He has had 4 open heart surgeries, 15 stents, etc. I would feel the same as you if something happened and I hadn't spoken to him. And he worries for me, not wanting me to travel and stuff when he's in the hospital. A parent's love is amazing. I'm sorry you've had to deal with this. I think when a traumatic death is involved, there are always feelings of guilt and what ifs. Just keep trusting the Lord. Your mom sounds amazing. You must come by it honest.


tiffany March 8, 2012 at 6:47 pm

I cannot say anything as I am literally sobbing. Hugs sweet friend.


Theresa Wisloff March 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Holly, I have not had the pleasure of meeting you. I was so moved by your story!! Thank you so much for sharing with all of us. I'm sure it was a long time coming and could not have been easy for you! How blessed you are to have had such a special relationship with your mom that obviously shaped you into the beautiful godly woman you are today! May God richly bless you and your family!!


Tina @ Blazin' Bandit Girl March 8, 2012 at 6:53 pm

you are still my hero and you deserve God's grace. Thank you once again for sharing. I am so glad to know you even in this WLS universe. Hard to admit these things out loud I know….but oh so healing to let the light in. As my sweet husband tells me, time to set that suitcase down. I am so moved


Lindsay March 8, 2012 at 6:59 pm

So sorry. I am crying with big tears. I can not say I know what u are going through but I can say my thoughts are with you. And your mom raised a wonderful person when she raised you. This is the first time I have ever visited your blog. Wow


A Journey to a new me... March 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm

incredibly power post. Guilt can have a amazing hold…I struggle with it.


Sarah Haley March 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Holly, you know that I look to you for so much strength, and you always seem to take it to the next level. You are such an amazing and brave woman. This was very hard for for me to read, but I am so proud of you for opening up yourself to everyone once again. You have touched me and touched so many people. There is not a day that goes by that I do no miss my mom. My life has seriously turned upside down now that she is gone. You are working through your pain, and I pray that one day I will be able to as well.

Thank you for your continued blogging. YOU are amazing!


~TMcGee~ March 8, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Holly, I would never have enough words or even the right words to comfort you but I wish I could hug you. I would say that your mother is phenomenal woman, not just because she was so selfless and giving but because she raised such an amazing daughter. Please do not live in guilt anymore, just from reading your blog, I know that you believe in Christ and that His love covers ALL. Let Him take this burden for you, just like you are shedding the extra weight, let go of this guilt, dear lady.


jennatberryhill March 8, 2012 at 7:30 pm

God has blessed you Holly. You are so brave. I cannot imagine being so brave! Your Mom was and is proud of you!


Jodi March 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm

This writing shows how strong, brave, and courageous you are. You aren't afraid to be vulnerable. I admire that about you. Thank you Holly.


Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan March 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Powerful post, Holly.


Sheila March 8, 2012 at 8:11 pm

I'm so sorry Holly, those kinds of things are the hardest to deal with and we are often the harder on oursleves that anyone else ever could be. I'm positive that your mom is looking down on you and smiling! Hugs!


Brenda March 8, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Oh Holly! You are amazing. Thank you for sharing this. ((((HUGS)))))


LoriBang March 8, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Oh, I am so emotional right now! Your post was amazing! I'm sure your mother is very proud of you too. It must be amazing knowing that you have a cheerleader in heaven always rooting you on! She sounds like she was an amazing mother. Now you are for your kids! So happy to have found your blog!


Stephanie Whalen March 8, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Again my long time friend you amaze me ……


tz March 9, 2012 at 3:24 am

heartbreaking, thank you so much for sharing, it is such a reminder to embrace life! I think your mom would be so proud of you for doing what you've done with your life since then…now you can be there for your kids the way she was there for you. You are remarkable because she was remarkable and your kids will be remarkable.

Even though you feel guilt, I also sense a lot of hope! Hang on to that!


Frickin' Fabulous at 40 March 9, 2012 at 3:25 am

Gut-wrenching. That's all I can possibly imagine how that felt. My mom was sick, very sick last year. She had her bladder removed in January '11 due to cancer and then surgery to repair a perforated ulcer (possibly side-effect from chemo) that almost killed her 4 months later. Me and my 6 siblings were able to be at the surgeries and help around the house because we all live within a 15 minute drive. I couldn't imagine how helpless I would've felt if I was far away. I almost lost my mom and I know what that felt like. I can't imagine what you have been going through but I am so sorry for your tremendous loss and I hope you have peace knowing that your mom is your guardian angel STILL.


mommykinz March 9, 2012 at 5:12 am

Oh Holly
I feel for you! I can't imagine what this guilt is doing to you. At some point you need to give it up.
You are a mom, you know how badly you'd want to protect your children from anything, everything.That's what mom's do.
You are making fabulous, fabulous changes now. She'd be proud.


MandaPanda March 9, 2012 at 6:03 am

Your mother would be so proud of you and how far you've come. You think she forgave you a long time ago? She never thought there was anything to forgive, sweetie. To forgive would imply that she was mad or angry or upset or sad. But she wasn't because she loved you and your children and your brother. Now it's time that you forgive yourself. ((HUGS))


Lori March 9, 2012 at 6:56 am

Thank you Jesus for sharing your truth to Holly's heart…that even our most personal shame and guilt have been addressed by You on the cross.


Kelly March 9, 2012 at 7:17 am

Oh Holly, there are no words. . . .


Linda Sherwood March 9, 2012 at 7:21 am



Chandra March 9, 2012 at 7:22 am

At the end of my mother's funeral, a family friend was speaking. He said this:

"So what? Now Judy's gone. So what? So what is that going to mean to our lives? How are we going to go forward and use her life in our own actions?"

Your weight loss journey, your life, your being a mother to your children is your "so what". You honor your mother by striding forward each day.

I have my own "so what" going on. Your "so what" is how you make up for your inadequacies during her life, or at least that's how I look at it…that my "so what's" are the only way to do it for my mother.

The hardest thing is to forgive yourself; I'm glad you said you forgive yourself at least some days. I'm in the same boat.

Hugs for you, Holly. I've only just begun reading this blog recently but it hits me right in the heart every time.



gabetoby March 9, 2012 at 7:27 am



Carolyn @ March 9, 2012 at 7:42 am



Julie March 9, 2012 at 10:12 am

She loved it, beyond anything else she loved you and still does just from afar. You are amazing. Thank you for stopping by, truly thank you!!
Have a blessed afternoon.


knitalot3 March 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm

You could have issued a tissue alert. You do need to work through the guilt and let it go. You are an amazing person and you are doing the very best you can. Feeling guilty doesn't fix it and I'm sure you know that. Keep being a good person and a good mom. I'm sure that's all your mom wants for you. Hugs.


me March 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm

OH TEARS! And just before reading this I was thinking, "I'd rather be fat! It's the only symptom of eating my problems away~I didn't have headaches or anxiety like I do trying to deal with it!" And then I read this and know better. Thank you for helping me! And I'm so sorry for your loss.


~Lori~ March 9, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I just came across your blog today, and what a first post to read! I was in tears! Its good that you're letting go of your guilt, and what a wonderful blessing to have such a loving and supportive mom!


If Only She Were Thinner March 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm

I can relate to this post on so many levels. Hugs to you for sharing such a painful and emotional burden you have been carrying around.

Guilt has been my greatest burden in life. Sometimes I think the hardest part of my own weight loss journey has been to give myself permission to feel good about who I am becoming rather than feeling bad about what I wasn't (and this includes the guilt I felt over all of the things I wasn't able to do because my weight held me back).

I am sure you mom is shining down on you is smiling proudly. I don't know you personally but I can tell that you are an amazing woman of God!


Cheryl March 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm

We never realize that we don't have as much time as we think, until there's no time left. I wish you had had that opportunity, I wish I had too. They still live on in our hearts and in our families. Look to them and you will see the love that she still has for all of you.


Anonymous March 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm

I don't even know how I found this blog. I'm trying to figure out what i put in the search engine to end up here but i can't remember. i hope i can figure out how to find my way back. I am housebound. Have been overweight a long time. I can't walk right now because of my legs giving me problems and my back. My mom and I have lived together for years. she is my best friend in the world. And last year she got real sick and they took her to the nursing home. It's only 8 miles away but since i'm housebound i couldn't go see her. I can't drive. I have a cousin who comes by and helps me with things but I can't fit in a vehicle anymore. So mom was just 8 miles from me and i never could see her after that. We talked every day on the phone sometimes all day because we were all each other had. And she would cry sometimes because she missed seeing me. I felt so bad. And she died 3 weeks ago and I couldn't even go to a funeral. I mean I just sit here in this damn chair and I can't believe she's gone. And i feel there is no hope for me. I can't stand the guilt for my mom and me not seeing her. only 8 miles away all that time might as well have been 100. I can't live with it either the guilt is too much. i didn't know no one ever had that happen to them too. but you seem like you find a way to live through this i got to find an email for you or way i can messgae you maybe i got to find out a way to handle this too thanks for writing this. I know it was hard. I feel alone. But I want you to tell me how I find my way out of this mess


Holly from 300 Pounds Down March 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I'm so sorry for what you are going through. I understand. My email is If you write, I promise I will answer. God bless you.


Jenny March 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I am in tears. Thank you for your honesty and for allowing me play witness to the gigantic hearts of those who meet here. Anonymous has met someone who has been there. Imagine that. My heart is full full full!


Ronnie March 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Wow, Holly… I'm a new visitor here. Found you through Jenny's blog and have to say: you're an inspiration. Thank you for your story and your honesty.


Marilyn March 28, 2012 at 9:36 am

This comment has been removed by the author.


Marilyn March 28, 2012 at 9:38 am



It's Me!!! March 29, 2012 at 7:52 am

I found your blog through SATW's blog. I am at work reading this and started crying. This was very moving. Your mom sounds like she was such a wonderful person. I am sorry that you carry that guilt around, but I think in the end, it will all make you stronger. I know she's in heaven smiling down on you. Although you can't see her, she can now see you and your kids as much as she wants.


Katie J April 18, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Oh sweetie! I am typing this with tears streaming down my face.

You are so brave to share this and I believe there is divine reason you did. If it saves one person some heartache then to me it is worthy of posting.

Katie J recently posted..We’ve Got A Winner!My Profile


Holly from 300 Pounds Down April 19, 2012 at 12:21 am

Thanks Katie!! I appreciate you saying this very much !


Gen November 2, 2012 at 8:40 pm

No words seem enough. Or right. So, I’ll just say this: my heart broke for you. I am sorry that you had to go through that. She loved you more than you’ll probably ever know.
Gen recently posted..Thankfulness Day 2My Profile


Amanda November 3, 2012 at 7:02 am

Damn I hate crying. I am so sorry for what you have gone through. I too carry guilt. And shame. This slavish obsession with food, it’s like a sick version of Stockholm Syndrome. All the things I have screwed up, by putting food first. God forgive me.

Again, thank you for your stark honesty. It’s scorching, yet refreshing at the same time.


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