Today is the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.
Much has happened in that year’s time, including the birth of our first grandchild, and our move across country to be near him. There has been pain, suffering, fatigue, intense stress, confusion, and grief. However, there has also been a deepening of faith, excitement, joy, and a closeness with my mother that I never experienced before. I feel like her spirit, her heart, is one with mine. I can feel her presence all around me and feel her love for me, my sisters, and our whole family every day.
A few years ago, a friend of mine who lost her mom, told me that when you lose your mother, she is just “gone.” This friend did not have a close relationship with her mom before her death, however, when she shared those words with me, she had tears in her eyes. She was communicating her feeling of emptiness, and the reality that there would be no more stories, no more chances to ask her mom questions about her life and her experiences, no more chances to physically feel her mom’s love or to have the opportunity to show her mother how much she appreciated and loved her.
Sometimes we focus so much on ourselves and our own needs and pain, that we forget that our parents are human beings. They had a life before we were born, and had struggles and weaknesses to overcome just as we do. As we lived our lives and became more mature and “educated”, it was sometimes easy to overlook the lives of those closest to us, the ones who brought us into this world, and who loved us the most. Many “eye-rolling” and “here we go again” moments…and many times, for legitimate reasons.
The love our parents showed us was the best they had to offer. Just as the love we showed them and to our own children, family and friends, was the best we had to offer at the time.
For we are all flawed. We are sinners.
I believe that when our loved ones die and are united with Jesus in heaven, and when our hearts are also open to Jesus, a connection is forged. The Communion of Saints.
That is what I am feeling very strongly from my mother. Especially today. I know that sin and weakness no longer affects our relationship. We are joined in perfect love now, and nothing can take that truth away.
During this past year, many truths about my mom have been revealed to me. I would like to share some of them with you, in the chance that they may be of help to you. Such simple things that help to keep my heart filled with love and a smile.
How would I know:
That when you repeated the same stories over and over, you were sharing with us that these were some of your most treasured memories. At the time, it was frustrating to actively listen to those repeated stories over and over. In fact, I could repeat them word for word. However, now I feel so close to you when I remember those same stories, and imagine the scenes you described to me over the years of my life. You are helping me to know you and myself more and more each day, by understanding your life experiences.
That when you called me into your room each morning, or for special occasions, when I was rushing out the door, just to look at what I was wearing and how I looked for the day, that you were missing those “good old days” for yourself, and that it brought you much joy to see me “dressing up”, wearing make up, getting my hair done, wearing jewelry…and going out into the world. You were living your memories through me and my life, and were sincerely happy for me…always telling me that I looked beautiful. Even when I didn’t feel beautiful, I saw my beauty through your eyes.
That when you requested certain foods or things during holidays or seasons, and they sat uneaten or unused, that you were reliving a time and season way past…from your growing up years, to your times with dad and our family life. It wasn’t the things themselves that were important to you; it was the connection, the memories associated with those things. Many things come to mind. Ribbon candy, Easter peeps, filled chocolate Easter eggs, jelly beans, candy corn, embroidery kits, Barbies, baby dolls, beanie babies. Also jewelry, red lipstick and nail polish, and your favorite fragrance, “White Shoulders.”
I have been wearing “White Shoulders” all week in memory of your last week here on earth. The connection between us, and the beauty during that painful and precious time will always astound me and fill my heart. I never thought that death could be beautiful, however, your passing from this world to the arms of Jesus was inspiring to me. You grew older gracefully with humility; and with a trusting heart, let go of us and the world to reach out to your next adventure.
Thank you for trusting me with your life during the time you lived with Joe and me, and thank you for loving and trusting me with your very life at the end.
It is an honor and privilege to be your daughter. I will always feel you with me, and will always strive to have your faith, humility, love and forgiving spirit.
Rest in the peace and light of the Lord, Mom! I love you.