I’m not sure where to begin.
I’ve been struggling with whether or not to share this with you – it’s personal, it’s painful, and even the idea of writing about it seems to diminish its significance.
But just going on as if nothing happened, sending you upbeat articles and not letting you in, somehow feels disingenuous.
Perhaps sharing this part of my life may actually be helpful…for us both, I hope.
My mom died Easter Sunday morning, just before sunrise.
She was beautiful, thoughtful, talented, gracious, and humble. She personified kindness.
She and my Dad, married almost 53 years, were in love ’til the end.
I loved her very much and, although I wish I had said it more often, I also admired and respected her as a mom, a wife, a grandmother, a veteran, an artist, and a woman.
She was my mom.
I had the privilege of being with her for ten days before she left us. Watching her go was heart wrenching and I will never be the same.
Over the past few weeks I have felt a range of emotions – lost, hopeful, scared, optimistic, angry, peaceful, abandoned, and raw. I have sobbed and laughed, sometimes together, and often at unexpected times.
I am grateful to my friends who have just listened and not tried to make me feel better. Grief is an individual process, it takes times, and any attempt to speed it up or stuff it or smooth it over only interrupts the healing.
Mainly my friends have just “met me where I am” at the time, whether that’s reminiscing about something funny, or consumed with regret. They each have the gift of drawing up along side of me and walking the path with me at my pace, a gift I simply have no words for except “thank you.”
I’ve learned there’s a real art to writing a sympathy card, or leaving a phone or text message. The best ones were from people who stumbled over their words, said how sad they were to hear of her passing, and then related a happy memory they had about being with my mom or how sweet she was or how they will always remember her. They were personal, both awkward and graceful, and spoke straight from the heart.
Here’s what was said with love, and I know eventually I will come to embrace, but stung at such a fragile time:
“Heaven is rejoicing.”
“The angels are singing.”
“It was a blessing.”
Here’s what I found comforting:
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“There are no words I can say that will comfort you.”
“Your mom loved you very much.”
In her final days, my mom taught me about courage, about grace under pressure, and about letting go.
If your mom is alive, regardless of your relationship, please pick up the phone and call her today.
Call her every day, for that matter.
After she’s gone, there is no do-over. All you have are the moments you created together while she was here. If your relationship is frustrating or tenuous or not the one you would have chosen, that’s okay. No mom is the perfect mom, and not one of us is the perfect son or daughter.
But I’ll tell you this, no matter how accomplished or educated or busy or distanced you become, no matter how many miles or years you put between you, you’re never old enough to lose your first friend. And when you do, you’ll wish you could call her just one more time.
One of the greatest gifts my mom ever gave to me is a love of the seashore. Growing up we spent summers at the shore, gathering with enough cousins we needed a chart on the wall to determine who everyone was related to.
We lived on or across from the water since the time I was four years old. Mom was a water girl and so am I. She and my dad built their final home right on the ocean’s doorstep. My mom gave us all the gift of the beach.
She once wrote, “I have loved the ocean since the day of my birth, for I am closer to God at the seashore than anywhere else on earth.”
The beach is where I also go to talk with God. It’s where I catch glimpses of my mom now too – walking for miles, looking for treasure, collecting shells, with sand between her toes and a smile on her face, knowing she is finally home.
I love you, Mom.
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