Today is a new day. One that for me, comes with a bit of pain.
Because 3 years ago today my mother died.
Life has never been the same since.
But here is the good news: Though the day may be hard, though I may shed some tears, today I will not fall apart.
Instead I’ll allow myself a good cry, wipe away my tears and get on with the business of life. I’ll do my morning workout, get some writing done, throw in a load of laundry, call my best friend to chat and figure out what the heck to make for dinner. Thoughts of Mom will come and go in the midst of it all, but I will be okay.
It’s not that I’m stoic. Nor does it mean I don’t care. Simply put, I accept, but don’t dwell in the grief I’ve been given.
I once read that grief doesn’t ever go away, we just learn how to dance with it. I believe this to be true. I didn’t just lose my mother and then forget all about her. Instead I’ve learned to live in this world without her physical presence. I’ve come to accept the tiny hole in my heart and understand that it will be with me forever.
Yet adjacent to my grief and pain are love, joy, compassion and hope. The myriad of my emotions reside together within me, and there is room for all. Though I don’t relish the pain, I know it adds a facet of richness to life (without love there is no loss, no joy without pain, right?).
But here’s the thing: Though I’ve learned to live without my mother, I still miss her. I miss her grin, and the blazing fire in her eyes that came whenever she got excited. I miss going to her house for dinner (she was an amazing cook and set a beautiful table). I miss her hugs. But most of all, I miss talking to her. I long to fill her in on everything going on in my life. I miss her listening ear, her love for my family, her words of wisdom.
So many people I know harbor regrets. They wish they had said or done something differently before their loved one passed. They wish they could go back in time and fix those things. Do I have regrets? Maybe, maybe not. Sure, my mother and I had words that went unsaid. And I have questions that never got answered.
So what then would I say to my mom if I could have her back for a day?
It’s probably not what you’d think. And I hope you don’t think badly of me for what I’m about to say.
If I could talk to my mom just one last time,
I wouldn’t bother to tell her I love her.
I wouldn’t ask her if I did enough for her in those awful last days of her life.
I wouldn’t ask her to forgive me for being such a wretched teen.
Sounds harsh, I know. Yet somehow I feel my mom is not concerned with such things. I think when we’re in heaven, we’re given heavenly understanding and compassion for the pain those on earth still struggle with. I wouldn’t want to waste my precious moments with mom discussing my fears from the past.
I believe my mom already knows I love her.
I believe she knows I did my best for her when her illness was at its worst.
I believe she understands how horrified I now am by my childish, selfish teenage ways.
So instead, if I had one more day to talk to my mother, I’d spend that precious time talking about the things we always did. I’d catch her up on life.
I’d tell her how well Sarah is doing in graduate school. And we’d laugh together, because we always knew she would.
I would share how Meg loves college, is still running and is working hard in all her nursing classes. Together we’d relish in the understanding of what a good nurse she will be.
I would tell her she was right, that Abby is very artistic. We’d share our dreams of all the cool things she might do with that talent.
I would tell her all about what Steve and I have planned for our future, how much I love writing and teaching, how her son is a good father and that my Dad, her husband, is hanging in there. And she’d be so happy for us.
It’s the simple conversations I miss the most. Life is full of milestone moments. Graduations, first jobs, weddings, houses, babies and more. These are wonderful, memorable times. But for me, the best times are the moments in between.
The small, the seemingly insignificant, the ordinary. May your life be full of such blessings.
The last photo I have of my mom, taken in December, 2013.