My mom used to say to me, “I love you to the Moon & back, plus all of the stars.”

Sephra Lall on how she copes with losing her mom at 15 years old.

Sephra Lall sits on the floor of her bedroom, flipping through old photo albums in search of pictures she wants to share. “It’s so hard to just pick a few that really describe her. They’re all so perfect.”

Now 19 years-old, Sephra spent most of her teenage years watching her mom fight a long battle with stage-four stomach cancer. She was afraid to see her mom go through surgeries, chemotherapy and lose her hair. Despite a short remission, her mom lost the battle just before Sephra’s 16th birthday.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. I was there when it happened. My dad was such a mess, I didn’t know what to do. I don’t have any other siblings, so I had to deal with this by myself. I went to school the next day and didn’t even tell anyone. I just couldn’t admit that it was real. My mom was really gone.”

Sephra holds on to the things that remind her of her mom. Everyday, she wears a necklace with her name on it. “My mom bought this necklace before I was even born. I’ve had it all my life. The sparkles and shine really remind me of her. She was so full of life.”

She also keeps a ring her mom gave her on her nightstand. She used to wear it on her fingers when she was younger and then on her necklace chain when she grew out of it, but now keeps it next to her when she sleeps for a special reason. “My mom used to sit on my bed and rub my face until I fell asleep. It reminds me that she’s still here. Sometimes I rub it while thinking of her at night and fall asleep with it in my hands.”

She surrounds herself with memories of her mom. It gives her comfort when she feels lonely, stressed or sad. “I’m afraid that I’ll forget what she looked like or what her voice sounded like. I keep these pictures to help me remember her during the good times, before she was sick.”

Sephra said she copes well most days, but other times, she feels like the world is crashing down around her. “Sometimes the sadness builds up too much and I just have to get out of wherever I’m at and take a walk. Just get lost somewhere and clear my head.”

“I’m not sad all the time, don’t get me wrong. Ask any of my friends- I’m the life of the party. I love making people laugh because I know what sadness is and I don’t want those I love to feel what I feel.”

It’s been three years since Sephra’s mom passed away in the living room of her home in Las Vegas. She attends the University of Nevada, Reno, to study neuroscience with hopes of becoming a brain surgeon one day. “I work hard to make something of myself, even though I know she’s proud of me no matter what I do. I want her to know that I’m doing okay, even though I miss her so much every day. I see girls my age doing things with their mom, and I’m like, they don’t even know how lucky they are that they have their mom to spend time with. I don’t have any more time with my mom.”

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