On this day four years ago, I was sitting with my mom as she took her last breath in this world. After a year of battling cancer, and too many weeks of succumbing to its grip, she was ready, and finally, so were we. She was surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and her sweet husband. He had been by her bed for days serenading her nonstop with every song he knew on his ukulele. It was a deep and devastating outpouring of love I know she appreciated even though she never would have allowed that much ukulele playing in her presence on a normal day. Don’t get me wrong, she loved his sweet voice and encouraged his practice, but come on, we all have our limits:). Anyway, the point is, we loved her and she loved us, and while death can feel tragic, it can also be so very full of love.
I haven’t experienced particular anniversaries or holidays as especially sad; it has always been more of a constant dull ache with flare ups related to life events I reeeeaally wanted to share with her; like the birth of my son, and every day of motherhood. But last year, this day snuck up on me and hit like a bushel of bricks to the heart. This year, I was more prepared. I saw the anniversary approaching and used those moments of anticipation to remember her and all our good times.
A few days ago, I had a vivid dream with her. We had a leisurely visit; although I was lucid enough to appreciate how special and limited our time was. I really wanted her to tell me what to do, but as in life, she would not. She simply said she understood why I felt like I do and expressed her total love and support. I am still marveling at how satisfying the experience of feeling so totally understood was; even though what I thought I was seeking was an answer.
So today, on this anniversary I never wanted, I am still learning about true love from my Mom. I’ve already written about some of the things I’ve learned since she died, and I’m still appreciating new lessons and old memories of her as they come.
Don’t get me wrong, when she was alive, she drove me crazy. We drove each other crazy, right up to our very last days together. More than once over the course of my life I caught myself doing something “just like my mom” and stopped in horror, promising silently to myself that I would never do THAT again. Now that she’s gone, those moments are so much more precious. I savor the ways I am like my mother; even the ways I used to think were annoying or infuriating or weird. It is in those moments I feel closest to her. I remember her and notice all the ways she is still with me, and within me, and is me. It’s funny and wonderful how perspective can change everything.
I love you mom. I miss you more today than yesterday, and more tomorrow than today. And that’s okay. I am okay. I know you are too.