(My mom passed away on November 6, 2011, just 2 weeks after she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer — Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer. Though we knew she was dying, the day she died was unexpected. This letter is an emotional out-pouring of my feelings about not having the chance to say the things I wanted to say to her before she died.)
It’s been 3 1/2 years now since that day. I was not ready when you left. I’m guessing you weren’t ready either. The early morning had been exhausting, saying goodbye to family, who had come to visit for a few days for the purpose of saying their goodbyes to you. We fell back to sleep when they left and woke up to a beautiful November day. It was going to be perfect — sunny and 75, and you wanted to spend some time outside by the lake you could see from the window of your room in the rehabilitation center.
When I left for the 15 minutes it would take to grab some breakfast, it never occurred to me that the quick kiss on the cheek I gave you would be the last time I would look into your eyes. How I wish I had remembered to order a breakfast plate the day before.
The call came while I sat in the drive-through at Wendy’s.
Marcy, you need to come back right away. Your mom has taken a turn.
The rehab nurse’s words made no sense to me. When I left 10 minutes earlier you were smiling, looking forward to getting a quick bath, fresh clothes, and then that time out in the sun.
I grabbed my food and quickly drove back. I should have known that the “turn” you took was really a euphemism for, “your mom just died.” But I didn’t. So when I arrived back and heard the words, “she’s gone,” I was shocked.
How could you be gone? We were supposed to have at least a couple of months before the cancer took you. You were fine when I left. There were so many things I hadn’t had a chance to say to you. Things I wanted you to know.
The unspoken words still haunt me at times. Friends tell me you knew. Did you?
Did you know that I thought you were the best Nana ever? The way you loved Ben was unmatched by anything I had ever seen. I don’t know how many moms have over 1000 pictures of their baby’s first year. But I do, because you were obsessive about recording every possible moment of his life. Your special yearly “staycations” are forever ingrained in his memory. Ben loves looking through the scrapbooks you made with movie ticket stubs, museum tickets, even pictures of him eating a huge ice cream sundae. We cannot eat at Steak-N-Shake today without him remembering that you were the one who always took him to eat there after seeing movies at the theatre next door. Just yesterday, we saw a new Gallapalooza horse (Saturday is Derby Day) and he recalled the time we drove all over the city while you photographed every horse. I think he must have been about 5 years old at the time.
Did you know that you were the mom I always wanted but didn’t know I had, until the last few years of your life? We had some rocky years. It was sometimes hard to see past my own anger. But I grew to know that no matter what, you were there for me and you loved me. I will forever be grateful that forgiveness for past mistakes happened, and we were able to move toward a relationship closer than I thought would ever be possible. You were loving and supportive, but never judged my mistakes or decisions. You celebrated my successes and believed in me. Just like a mom should. You once told me that you wished reincarnation was a real thing because you would want to come back as my daughter. Did you know how deeply touched I was by that statement?
Did you know that you were an amazing mother-in-law? I hear so many stories of evil mothers-in-law, but I know Tom would agree with me that you were the best. You were content to be a part of our lives without being nosy or interfering in our marriage, even if you disagreed with what you saw happen. You let me mother Ben, playing the part of the Nana, not “another mother.” You never offered advice unless you were asked. You dropped everything for us (including Tom) if we needed you to. That is a gift so many will never know. I am grateful Tom knew it.
For a long time, I wished I had been there when you left. I wish I understood what even happened. Why did you die that day? I wish that we could have had just one more conversation to be sure you knew these things. I wish I had told you I loved you before I left. I just didn’t know I would not have that chance again.
I am grateful for a God who provides peace and comfort. I am grateful that our relationship was close enough that even if you didn’t get the chance to hear me say all of these things, you knew you were loved.
I am grateful you were my mom. And Ben’s Nana. And Tom’s mother-in-law.
We were so blessed to have you in our lives.
We miss you every day, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day. See you soon.
Mother’s Day is right around the corner and I’ve gotten together with a group of bloggers to bring you a giveaway and blog hop that we are hoping will bless your socks off!
We not only hope to bless several moms with some pretty awesome giveaway prizes, but we also hope to bless many more moms through the Letters to Moms Blog Hop (that you can find at the end of this post), where each participating blogger is writing a ‘Dear Mom’ letter. These letters will be anything from a letter to our own moms, a letter to ourselves, a letter to a mother figure, or a generalized letter to a group of moms, such as weary moms, hopeless moms, expecting moms, single moms……. Maybe one of these letters will speak to you!
So please, hop around to the many other bloggers below, and of course enter to win the giveaway too – there will be 4 winners with the total prize value over $1000!