Casseroles and Carpools: Helping a Loved One Who Is Grieving

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What can I do?

People often ask me what they can do to help someone who has just suffered an enormous loss. I don’t have a clue. All I can tell you is what helped me. Everyone is different. Each situation is unique. Every person has his or her own process.

With that disclaimer in place, I know that friends and family want to help. So here’s a list of 21 off the top of my head, not in any particular order:

1. Pray for me. Start there. Prayers, well-wishes, positive vibes are all gratefully accepted. Put that healing energy out there and move it in my direction. Within a few hours of Sam’s death, I talked to a priest, a rabbi and a Christian Science practitioner. Not a joke, just a solid vote for monotheism. If prayer is not your shtick, just inhale and exhale until you are calm and centered. You can help me more from this place of spirit.

2. Ask me how I am. I will tell you I’m OK, and this is total horseshit. Ask me anyway, and just know that I care enough to lie to your face. I’m not fine, I’m not OK, I’m pretty sure I will never be OK again, but if you don’t ask me, I will think you’ve forgotten that my life as I knew it is gone. I’ve had a headache constantly for weeks, and trust me, you do not want to know about the GI distress. But when you ask me how I am, your question acknowledges that my everything has changed.

3. Bring me flowers. Don’t bring a plant. I can only be responsible for keeping myself and my sons alive. Maybe the cat. Flowers are good, because when the flowers wilt and stink, I will throw the whole thing out, along with the leftover tuna casserole I loved as a kid but my children won’t eat. If you want your crystal vase back, you will have to dig through the cat litter to find it. Best to send the flowers in a plastic Dixie cup.

4. Show up. Don’t even call, just land on my doorstep. Everyone says to call if I need anything, but I cannot think of what I need, what your name is and where I left my cell phone. I feel alone in the world. I need everything, and what I need right now is you. We will figure out the details when you get here.

5. Call first. I have never been so tired but unable to sleep and distracted but single-minded in my entire life. I know you want to see me and give me a hug in person, but my house is covered in people I barely recognize, and I just want to take a nap. I cannot follow a conversation, or string two coherent sentences together. I want everybody to go away and leave me alone.

6. Pick up the newspaper from the driveway. And now go ahead and just put it in the recycling bin. I’m not going to read it. I have no attention span, and I just cannot take any more bad news, whether it’s across an ocean or across town. If I cannot muster the energy to walk the 10 feet to where the paper landed, I will certainly not maintain the focus to read it. I won’t even look at the pictures.

7. Feed me. Or at least feed my kids. I have lost my appetite and my love of cooking, and I keep forgetting to eat. But the kids are hungry. Even if I don’t eat, the smell of dinner in my kitchen makes me feel loved and fed. I consciously think that some day I might have the wherewithal to provide dinner for somebody else, but that possibility seems very far away. Go easy on the sweets, because the kids will never touch another cucumber again, so long as cookies and lemon bars keep showing up on their doorstep. Gift certificates work. Feed the dog, too, because I keep forgetting, and the lemon bars stick to his fur.

8. Drive carpool. I cannot remember, well, pretty much anything, but especially not the kids’ scout, baseball and playdate schedules. I have no idea what day it is. I’m pretty sure I got them to school, and I’m confident they were late. And I probably should not be trusted behind the wheel with a van full of children, even if they are mine. I cannot remember where I’m going, how to get there, and what time the what’s-it-called starts.

9. Do the grocery shopping. My girlfriend calls and says, “I’m going to the grocery store. Make me a list of what you need, and I’ll do your shopping, too.” Seven minutes later she’s in my kitchen, looking at my list and frowning. The scrap of paper has three words: milk, eggs, bread. “That is not everything you need.” She opens the fridge and then the pantry and starts taking notes. She asks about allergies, favorite fruits and pasta. She says, “I’ll be back. Go take a nap.” I go to my room. An hour later, I hear her car in the driveway and the creak of my front door. She calls out, “Don’t get up! It’s just me.” I’m too tired to move. I hear her humming and putting groceries away, and then she calls from the front door, “I’m leaving now. I’ll check on you later.” I fall peacefully asleep for the first time in a week. When I wake up, I drag myself to the kitchen, where all the groceries have been put away and the shopping bags folded on the counter, along with the receipt so I can reimburse her. One of the kindest, most practical gestures I have ever received.

10. Don’t cry. I’m constantly on the verge of tears, and I just want to hold it together.

11. Cry with me. Broken hearts sitting together means everything. I just got back from the cemetery, and I chose a single plot. It’s got a lovely view, and I hope never to see that &%$#@ garden again. Until Friday, anyway, when we hold the funeral, and I will need you to cry with me then, too.

12. Laugh with me. Because I love to laugh at the irreverent and inappropriate.

13. Send cards. I love the handwritten note.

14. Write the obituary. I cannot remember my husband’s obituary, but I remember which friend wrote it. The fact that he was the subject of an obituary takes my breath away, and I already told you I cannot focus for more than a few words. As soon as I see the dates with the dash in the middle, I’m done. Life is all about the dash, but the only thing I can see right now is that date at the end. I could find a copy around here somewhere, but the most significant part of that obituary, as far as I am concerned, is that my faithful, intelligent, thoughtful friend wrote it for me. For him, I mean. A photo slideshow would be nice, too.

15. Walk with me. Remind me to inhale and exhale, because I keep holding my breath. One of my most healing places is in the class with the yoga teacher who speaks of our power and beauty. Also with the meditation instructor who encourages exhaling out bitterness, anger and any other toxic trash you don’t need in your body and inhaling whatever you need to bring balance — peace, love, prosperity, joy.

16. Organize my mailEspecially the bills. Don’t pay my bills for me, but if you could collect them together, and remind me when they are due, that would really help. I have the money, but I don’t have the time to think about writing a check or clicking the bill pay. And it’s dark enough around here without the electric company cutting off the lights.

17. Offer to do laundry or dishes. But know that I might not want you to. This has nothing to do with your housekeeping prowess. Know that while I love the scent of fresh, clean sheets, the ones on the bed still smell like my husband. So don’t wash them quite yet. Maybe start with the kids’ laundry because I don’t know how that pile got so big and stinky so fast. I don’t know how the children themselves got so big and stinky so fast either, but that’s another issue.

18. Bring pinot noir and dark chocolate. As if you need me to say that out loud.

19. Bring gifts. Little things — candles, bath salts, pajamas. Tangible reminders of warmth and light.

20. Protect me. But don’t seclude me. I don’t need to know about some of the harrowing things going on in the world, but I do want to offer my heart (what’s left of it) to a friend who also received terrible news. I’d rather hear it from you than through the rumor mill.

21. Don’t tell me you know exactly how I feel. You don’t. Really. It’s OK — I don’t know how you feel either. So we have that in common. Be gentle. We are all trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense, like putting a puzzle together with pieces missing and no edges. I don’t want to hear that he’s in a better place, I do not want to hear that whole hoo ha about life not dishing out any more than you can handle, and I couldn’t care less about God’s plan. I hate the plan and the God who planned it.

Actually, I don’t believe that God plans these tragedies, but His response is always the same — He gives us each other. Getting through these storms alone is about as futile as my dog stopping to shake off the water while we are walking in the pouring rain. It’s not going to do any good until we step out of the deluge and into the shelter. Shelter which often takes the form of familiar shoulders, a loving presence to hold the weight of the loss together.

Community doesn’t have to be a chapel overflowing, standing room only, although there are times when that helps, too. Life sends friends and family who bring casseroles and drive carpool and serve communion. Friends who send text messages and make phone calls. Love brings together family who email photographs and tell stories and cook and make more phone calls. Community and communion. At the end of the day, that’s all we have. And that’s everything.

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Grief and the Ides of May

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I am not writing as much as I should or I want. And it’s not even so much a question of time, because I can find the time to write. I am an insomniac by nature. I could be writing instead of watching brain-eating reality shows on BRAVO. It’s a matter of having so many different things going on with work and kids and health and my husband and our family and life that I just haven’t been able to settle my brain enough to come up with a subject. Or figure out what I am comfortable with the world (or those dozen people who read this) knowing about me.

Then yesterday I was in tears most of the day. Hiding my tears from my husband and my sons because I didn’t even know where to start or when it would end. Every year it comes like clockwork. Right on time. Right in its rightful place on the calendar.

May 1. The start of what I have come to call the Ides of May. What used to be a month full of joy and birthdays, has just become a month I would rather sleep through. My late husband’s birthday is May 4. My birthday is May 9. My husband’s birthday is May 15.

The last time I spoke to my late husband is May 18. I received the call he died by suicide on May 20. I spent the remainder of May planning services and moving out of the home we shared and trying to make sense of something that made very little sense at all. The next year I spent most of May with my therapist, just trying to make it through the month semi-intact. The second year, my 30th birthday, I spent a solid two weeks in bed, watching all of our favorite movies on loop and answering my apartment door only for food deliveries.

When I met my husband, three years into my grief, he had nine months to try to make me fall in love with May again. He tried to focus on the positive of the month — our birthdays. Since he also lost his brother in May, he knew there was pain. But birthdays are about life, not death, he said. He remembers dates, but he isn’t as date-sensitive as I am. I get physically ill sometimes when I think about these days when everything was ripped out from under me.

After my husband and I married, I really did try to not let the month be taken over by my ongoing grief. We first found out we were pregnant in April 2010. Then on May 4, my late husband’s birthday, we had an ultrasound appointment. And the second our doctor looked at the screen, I knew our baby was gone. Something was wrong and his face told the story. I remember losing it right then and there. So I then spent my birthday (which always falls on or near Mother’s Day) that year recovering from a D&C and arguing with my husband that May was doomed and would never bring joy. I think my exact words were “Fuck May. It’s a shitty fucking month.”

When I found myself pregnant again, this time with twins, the due date was May 11. Right in the middle of our birthdays. As I got closer to delivery, and a decision was made to induce, May 4 was the proposed date. My late husband’s birthday. And I adamantly said “No, no, please no that’s not going to work” and even my husband didn’t clue in right away. It just seemed odd that my sons might share a birthday with my late husband. And then I felt guilty. And then I was crying. Again. So we decided on May 5 because what boys wouldn’t at some point enjoy their birthday being on Cinco de Mayo?

Life had other plans, and our boys came into the world on April 30. Just shy of May 1. They would not be tainted by my negative feelings about the month. And I hoped that their arrival would change my feelings about May. And, it did. For a while. Then, when the boys were 2, we lost my father-in-law, suddenly and without warning, on May 7. The morning after we had returned from a weekend away celebrating the boys’ birthday in Monterey. We called him that night we returned. Told him all about our weekend. Made plans to see him that week. And the next morning when I was out on a run my husband called me in a panic to tell me his dad was gone. And suddenly my feelings about May being the shittiest month of the year were front and center again. And there they have stayed.

This year, we had a great week celebrating our boys’ 5th birthdays. April 30th came and went. Before I knew it, May  1 arrived and the anxiety and the tears out of nowhere arrived with it. I am to the point where I don’t even know if it’s even the days themselves that send me off kilter. I think, maybe, it has more to do with the ghosts that appear. In my memories. In my journals. In my dreams. The other night I dreamt so vividly of my late husband. I could smell him. I could feel him. I could hear him. I woke up and for a split second I thought it was real. Until I realized it wasn’t. And I fought tears all day. It’s been almost 14 years since he left this Earth and yet I often feel it was just yesterday. All the things I want to say. All the things I wish I had said. All the things I so desperately want him to know — to really know — they dance around me every day of this cursed month. And the Monday morning quarterbacks have their opinions. It’s not fair to my family that this still is something I carry. It’s not fair to my husband. Our kids. And keep in mind it’s not like we have round tables discussing the years I spent with my late husband. We don’t.

And you know what else? It might not be fair. But it’s my life. I can’t change how I feel. And I’ve already spent a lot of my life putting what I feel aside because of how other people feel. I’ve talked about it before. For some reason, when it’s a partner/spouse, especially when you have sufficiently “moved on,” some people expect you to take down the pictures. Remove the name from your vocabulary. Cease the stories. Erase that chapter. But I can’t do that. I won’t. And I am not going to pretend that this month doesn’t rock my freaking world every single year since 2002.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I have vowed to try to share something each day that resonates with me. This is today. Looking at a calendar with red marks on certain days wondering when it’s ever going to get easier. Wondering if there will ever be a day when I will be at peace that I will never be able to have the last conversation I want to have with my late husband while he was still here on Earth. Wondering if I will ever be able to fully forgive myself for what I feel are my failings. Wondering if I am alone in my thoughts. Wondering. And waiting for this bloody month to end — before it’s barely even started.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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Why Letting Go of 'Things' Is Hard for Me as a Bereaved Parent

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The older I become, the more I desire to simplify. However, I feel the opposite has resulted, creating a vacuum.

When my son passed on, a void was created in me. My nature dictated that I somehow fill that vacuum. It seems to oppose the idea of “being still.” This need, however, made me vulnerable and resulted in unhealthy choices. It is also impossible to fill the void left by my son. Nothing and no one could ever do so. I made attempts of filling it with work, relationships, traveling, etc. But it was fruitless. I had to accept that vacuum. To do otherwise, can lead to frustration, which could easily become anger and rob me of any peace. The ways in which I mostly unconsciously attempt to fill that void can result in utter despair — all attempts to do so fail.

There is something else I have discovered. I seem almost incapable of discarding anything in my life that becomes a metaphor for loss. The loss of anything triggers a spontaneous “panic.” When I can’t locate something, a stifling fear immediately presents itself. This opposes any attempts to rid myself of “things.”

Yesterday, I went outside to do a few chores in my yard. A neighbor lady was also outside and we talked. She told me she was paying someone to clear out some unnecessary items she had been holding on to. She had old bicycles, containers, gadgets, and other items she no longer had use for and decided to discard them. Her husband had passed away a few years ago and some items he had collected over the years were not useful for her. She appeared to be lightening a burden she carried. I found it interesting and took note of her words when she lightheartedly described it as a, “spiritual cleansing.”

So, I found myself with an internal battle taking place. On the one hand, I desire to simplify; on the other hand, I have to confront the looming feeling of loss. The clash of the two produces stress. I need to resolve the ambivalent and conflicting emotions before making any decisions so I can hopefully choose wisely. I want to avoid any regrets down the road, if possible.

As a bereaved parent, grief is a constant companion. The simplest loss of any sort can unexpectedly re-open “Pandora’s Box.” Choosing to discard anything to which I once had a degree of attachment results in confronting even a minimal feeling of loss. The acquisition of simplification needs to be more significant and desirable from my perspective than any array of accumulated feelings of loss. I’m discovering that “simplifying” is a very complicated endeavor. There are things that belonged to my son that I could never discard. They are packed away in the corner of an attic and I haven’t opened those boxes in years. They take up space, have no practical use, etc. However, they will remain as long as I live and have any say in the matter. I need to not transfer how I feel about his things, though, unto other things that are completely separate. Grief is complicated. Peeling through the layers is hard work. It’s tentacles wrap themselves around what could appear to be the simplest things in our lives. Is it any wonder I often feel so drained?

It might becomes necessary for me to let go of some things. Letting go of anything can be frightening because I have already lost so much. Yet, letting go is necessary to simplifying, and simplifying reduces stress, which could allow peace to takes its place. I have to choose to swim upstream and work to make things easier for myself. I have to choose to be a walking contradiction to my natural tendencies which become the vacuum. I have to strive to be at peace. I have to yell at my thoughts to be silent. I have to take action to let go in order to find rest and be still.

Be-Still-And-Know-That-I-Am-God-

(((Hugs)))

Jude’s book, “Gifts from the Ashes,” is available at Direct Textbook.

Follow this journey on Jude’s website.

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My Partnership With Grief

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Grief: “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret,” according to dictionary.com.

Grief: “extreme mental, physical and emotional pain that cannot be adequately described with words,” according to me.

I have never before experienced the kind of pain I experienced upon the death of my husband. It was like being in a knife fight and a boxing match all at the same time. It was a sharp stabbing pain and a dull continuous ache in my soul, constantly abusing me. It was inescapable until I became numb — until my heart and my head couldn’t take it anymore, causing both to shut down for a time. Grief comes at you from different angles and in different ways, sometimes blindsiding you and other times numbing you to feeling any emotions. What I learned is, this is normal, because there are no rules for grief. The only rule, let yourself experience it. Whatever that means for you.

The days leading up to my husband’s death were filled with excruciating anticipatory grief and pain at watching him slowly slip away. When he finally left us, my head and my heart were not in agreement. I knew my husband was gone, but my heart refused to accept it. That disagreement prevented me from feeling for a while. There were times of overwhelming breakthrough grief when I felt the pain so intensely, I was sure I could die from it. There was nothing to do but let go and allow my body to release the gut-wrenching tears that would wash my soul. However, those times were brief in the beginning, and afterward, my heart slammed shut. My internal/intellectual battle was raging war, and I was caught in the middle of it.

For a time, I wondered what was wrong with me. Why wasn’t I feeling anything? What must that say about me? “I want to do this the right way,” I told my therapist, over and over again, tears streaming down my face. He told me over and over again that there is no “right way.” There is only my way. “But, what if I’m stuck? What if I never feel anything ever again?” It would be so much easier if there was a guide book, a process, like Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief. But the reality is that not everybody goes through those stages. Some people go through all of them; some people only go through one or two. I didn’t experience any of them. I wasn’t in denial — I knew my husband was gone. I wasn’t angry, and I didn’t feel the need to bargain with God — I knew that wasn’t helpful for me. I wasn’t depressed — but I certainly wasn’t happy. As for acceptance, my head had accepted it, but my heart had a long way to go. I was numb. My therapist assured me that all of my feelings, or lack there of, were quite “normal.” I learned that the definition of “normal” can be very different for each individual.

I also learned grief never really ends. It can hide for a while — sometimes for months at a time, even years for some people — but it can also come back for a visit, especially if it isn’t allowed space to begin with. Sometimes I can hear grief coming, whispering quietly in the background, giving me gentle warnings. Other times it sneaks up from behind like a giant tidal wave, knocking me off my feet, pulling me under. That’s one of the things people don’t talk about. Grief is a partner in life, once you’ve been introduced. At times grief is an ally — it has moments where it’s helpful, bringing a sense of closeness to the one who’s gone. Other times, it’s an adversary — working against you, not consulting you, making choices for you.

It’s been almost four years since my husband died. The old me would have thought that I “should” be “over it” by now. The new me has learned that grieving is a lifelong process; that it’s healthy to grieve; that I can do it any way I need to. I don’t need a rulebook. I only have to allow myself the space to feel. The grief I carry will be with me for the rest of my life — and that’s OK. It’s a reminder of the deep love I shared with my husband and will always have. Grief and love are partners too.

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The Memories My Mother Left With Me

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I try to imagine what it must have felt like for my mom in her early 40s to find out she was terminally ill around this time of the year in 1987. I cannot imagine what that conversation was like for my parents. I can’t imagine what that visit was like at the doctor. I am about the age she was then. She had two children at the time. I have two children. Mother’s Day and her birthday would both be coming up in May, and school would be letting out with the summer approaching. I imagine this is when most families start planning their vacations or summer camp routines.

I was your average middle school kid in seventh grade, going about my life. I suspected something was up back in fourth grade. There was a mole on the back of Mom’s thigh, or “something like that” that wasn’t “OK.” I knew my Gram came and stayed with us while Mom went to the hospital for a while. I knew Mom was super brave when part of her skin from one leg was taken off to grow on the part of her thigh that had the “mole.” She was brave, to say the very least.

Then life went back to “normal.” Mom was Mom. She took care of us. She was everywhere. She was at school, she brought the teacher’s “stuff” and she always made sure I was OK at school. She was involved in everything. She knew everyone. She was just that kind of lady. She showed up for all my events. She knew my friends and knew my friends’ parents. She knew all of my neighbors and talked to everyone. She loved to talk and laugh. She had a thick head of red hair and big blue eyes. She was hard to miss. If she thought something wasn’t “OK,” or that someone needed something, Mom took care of it. (I think she hid wings somewhere in the back of her clothes.)

Mom was a former English and History teacher. She gave it all up to raise her children and be with us. When I walked home from the bus stop, she stood at the storm-door waiting and watching for me. I saw the red hair first, then our two dogs, Tippy and Taffy, who waited for me, too. Mom always had “General Hospital” on the little TV in the kitchen with a pot of something on the stove. She also had an after-school snack ready for me. Mom loved “General Hospital, she was friends with the writer, Gloria Monty. Mom wrote to her and vice-versa.

This is what I can’t remember about Mom: I can’t remember one Mother’s Day. I really don’t. I don’t remember celebrating birthdays either — her’s or mine. I see photo’s, but I don’t have an actual memory.

My Mom passed away November 14th of that same year — 1987. As I type this, I try to imagine leaving my kids and I well up with emotion. I can’t even fathom it. How incredibly brave Mom was from beginning to end. How hard it must have been for her, and she didn’t show it. Not once that I remember. If anything, she tried her hardest to make it OK for us. She was worried about us.

On this Mother’s Day, I salute all the mothers who work hard every day and night making memories for their children, just like Mom did for me. Those memories really count. It is the everyday memories that matter. On days when you may feel you’re not “hitting the mark,” I hope you read this today as a firm reminder you are. You are.

Happy Mothers Day.

In Memory of,
Audrey Elizabeth 1943-1987

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A Letter to My Mother Who Is Gone, From a Mother Who Has Also Lost a Child

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Dear Mummy,

I remember that day, like it was yesterday. I was home early from school, and we were sitting out on the front terrace, enjoying the sun. To be honest, I was being a whiny brat, recounting a dentist’s visit. I didn’t tell you I loved you. I didn’t even take one minute to ask you how you were feeling.

The afternoon dwindled into evening, my brothers and sisters arrived home from school. Dad was home from work, we shared dinner, dishes were done and life was so incredibly normal that I didn’t think about anything other than me. I didn’t tell you I loved you.

You left for a Peace Group meeting on your bicycle. I went to bed and fell asleep. I didn’t know you stopped breathing while I slept, didn’t know the time we’d spent alone on the terrace would be the last one-on-one conversation I would ever have with you. I didn’t know I would never again have the opportunity to tell you I loved you.

I loved you.

I loved the warm glow that seemed to emanate from you. I loved the beauty of your faith and your fervent efforts to include everyone in God’s love. I loved that you would wrap me up in massively, warm hugs. I loved that ugly purple turtle-neck jumper you used to wear, and how warm it felt under my cheek as you held me close. I loved your beautiful British accent. I loved the way your nose would turn red after you had a glass of sherry. I loved that you would save me a wee sliver of the steak Dad would cook you for dinner on Friday nights. I loved that you were always there when my breathing failed me, did you ever sleep? I loved the nights when you were clearly worried about leaving me alone in my bed, and I snuggled into your side, in your bed, and you talked to me about nothing, and never once made me feel scared about the fragility of my health. I loved that you cried one day I was home, sick again, larking around with my baby sister. You got off the phone with my specialist, who told you I had to go back into hospital, and you didn’t want to believe I was really that sick.

I loved you.

And I didn’t tell you.

You got on your bicycle, after your Peace Group meeting, to cycle home to us. You should have made it home again. I wish I didn’t have the image of whiny wee Maria, not telling you how much I loved you.

The young man who had been drinking beer with his mates rushed through the intersection and hit your bicycle as you passed some road works –and left you — my beloved, he left you to die on the road as I lay asleep at home, not realizing I had lost my last opportunity to say I love you.

Becoming a Mother took some of the sting out of Mothers Day, it highlighted for me all of the things I took for granted in you — your incredibly calm nature, your amazingly gentle hands, your creative cooking for the hoards on a limited budget. Your fortitude, your faith, your amazing, boundless, endless love.

Becoming a mother made me really understand, at a visceral level, what the letters L-O-V-E really mean. It wasn’t all about sunbeams and flowers and chocolate cake. It wasn’t about giving my children everything I possibly could, and doing without myself, to ensure they were fed and clothed and supported. It turns out L-O-V-E is about putting these wee bundles before me; about my every waking moment being consumed with thoughts of them. About remembering I am their first teacher, and life lessons need to include “please” and “thank you” and how to use your cutlery, and boundaries, and consequences, and bedtime and doing your homework.

You were never my best friend, Mummy, never that. You were simply always there for me, always loving me. Always concerned about me. Always supporting me.

The lessons you and Dad taught my brothers and sisters and I about love and family and connection have played out into adulthood; I believe you would be proud of us. We do play nicely together now, Mummy. We love each other, we support each other, we are there for each other — just the way you taught us to be. I believe you would have been so proud of them, Mummy, the way they scooped my daughter and I up after my son died. The way they loved me, the way they supported me, the way the held me, with gentle hands that reminded me so much of you.

Mothers Day is looming again, and I am amazed, again, at the incredible strength you built in me — the ability you infused into my pores to be able to cope; to cope with a lifetime of chronic illness; to cope with losing you when I was 17; to cope with an abusive relationship; to cope with losing Harry when he was 18.

Mothers Day is a day I can celebrate knowing you, Mummy. It’s a day I can celebrate giving birth to two beautiful babies, and having the privilege of watching them grow up. It’s a day when I can thank God for the faith you taught me, and the strength that faith provides me every day. It’s a day I can look forward to again, to the adult relationship with my daughter that I never got to have with you. It’s a day for giving thanks, and for feeling blessed.

It’s another day that I can say, “I love you.”

And I do.

Love never dies.

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Thinkstock photo by Ingram Publishing

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