I have written and re-written this letter fifty times. Somehow I don’t have the words. I know you are now laughing because I never have a shortage of words. As one of the most frequent recipients of my words, your ears have probably been enjoying the break.
It is not that I don’t have any words – just not the right words. Each time I try to write this letter, I have managed to make it all about me, and you are so very deserving to have it be about you. The problem is that, in this new life I am living, a life without you, it is easy to focus on my “have nots.” I do not have a nightly phone call with my greatest confidant. I do not have your laughter in response to my stories. I do not have your unwavering support. But, I had you for thirty-four years, and having you made my life.
The term “mother” is an evocative one. For many it conjures up pain and doubts. For others, insecurity. But I have had extreme good fortune in the mother department because the word “mother” fills me with a sense of warmth and well-being and belonging. And these days, a bit of longing.
Mom, for thirty-four years, you elevated me above yourself. On a daily basis, you demonstrated the greatest act of love – pushing down your own wants and desires, making them subservient to the happiness of others. What amazes me is I never realized you were sacrificing. All I ever felt from you was happiness to be with me. I can still hear the words you often said, “I had kids for myself – because I wanted to be with them.” I feel ashamed sometimes when I compare myself to you because I am often The Begrudging Mother – the mother who says to my kids, “do you know how much I do for you?” or to my husband, “being a mother is a thankless job.” But that was not you.
I never felt you required anything from me. As a child, I had to follow rules and requirements, but you never expected from me even a portion of what you gave. Even as our relationship turned to friendship in adulthood, you placed no expectations upon me. I gave to you out of love and gratitude but never out of obligation. You never quit being my mom. So often, I wanted to cry with relief when you walked through my door. As a mother of young children, I was desperate for someone to nurture me, to see me, to hear me. Your presence equated comfort.
Now, I look at our time together and sift through our memories and carry the best of you with me. I must admit to also carrying around a reservoir of loss and sadness, a lingering “something’s missing” feeling. But I think of all you have given to me and realize I would be doing you a disservice by living a life shadowed by sadness. You have shown me how much my decisions can shape another person’s life. Your decisions gave me security – the ability to not question who I am and to have confidence in my abilities. Your decisions taught me to find joy in each day – in the happy simplicities of life.
When you very first left me, I kept thinking “how can I be here when she is gone?” But now I pray for time. Time with my daughters. Because you have shown me that I belong to them. I want to hear their laughter and stories and ramblings everyday for as many days as possible. Best case scenario, I want to hear the laughter and stories and ramblings of my daughters’ daughters. I want to make decisions that enable them to find the joy in life.
For many months, I would tell myself that if I could just spend one more day with you, I could be okay. One more talk. Hear your laughter one more time. Feel like a complete human for one more day. But I know I was fooling myself. The truth is that if you had lived to be one-hundred, I would still be begging you not to go. Because I am a selfish person. Because there is never enough time spent with one’s soul mate. Because there are always more words.
I love you so,