Since my mom died last December, my dad and I have spent a lot of wonderful time together. We talk about many things, and always we talk about Mom. Each time I visit, we go through a few household things to see what to keep, gift someone with, donate or throw away. When I packed up all of Mom’s beautiful clothes and shoes (she was a true fashionista), I went between laughter and tears. Laughter because Mom would deeply approve of ‘spreading the wealth,’ and tears because she wouldn’t be wearing the clothes again.
Dad and I have a lovely daily routine; he calls me at 7:30 am each day and I call him anywhere between 4:30 and 6:00 pm. We catch up on our mornings and our days; what we are doing, what we plan to do, and whether or not we slept well the night before. We always end our conversations with an “I love you,” and this is the structure upon which I build my days.
When I drive up to visit, we go out to have lunch, have a great time, and talk. We always end up talking about Mom and all she gave us, and how much we loved and admired her. We marvel on all her talents and gifts, her kindness, her great intellect, her sense of humor, her sharpness and wit—but mostly we talk about how she loved us, and how we loved her. It still seems amazing that this unique and wonderful person was part of our lives for so many wonderful years.
Dad is now attending a weekly grief counseling session given by our local Hospice organization. Mom was in Hospice for about three and a half months, and was given such exquisite care, kindness and sincere love from the nurses and staff. They became family to us. This session is helping Dad very much, plus it is adding more good people to his life. He always shares with me how the sessions are, and how much he gets out of them.
Just the other day he gave me a slip of paper; a copy of what he had been given in the sessions that read: “Be not selfish nor grieve for me. Rejoice and wish for Godspeed. I go to meet my cosmic Beloved.” Immediately I thought of my amazing mom; her spirit at last free of a painful body, knowing we are missing her but as always sending love and grace to us. I can just hear her voice saying, “I’m fine–I’m free! I’m always there for you, and don’t worry; we’ll be together again.”
My mom and dad have been the greatest love story I have ever known. I am so lucky to have been part of it for so many years. I grew up with love, kindness, joy, happiness and security–I was and am rich beyond measure for the parents with which I was blessed. Although I grieve the loss of my mother and best friend, I know that I have her love all around me each day. I also know that love never, ever dies.
I think on that phrase; “be not selfish,” often. Selfishly, we wanted more time with her; more adventures, more talk, more laughter, more love, more hugs and kisses. I can still hear her voice in my ears every day. But the truth was that Mom was ready to go. She had successfully lived with cancer for over 25 years, and lived well. When the time came that the medications and infusions no longer worked, her doctors told her she could either have chemotherapy or simply let nature take its course.
Mom, being Mom, told the doctors in no uncertain terms that she chose Door #2, letting nature take its course. I believe that she had done every single thing she ever wanted to do in life, and had done it all spectacularly well. Dad and I to this day marvel at all she packed into one lifetime. I think we both feel that we somehow landed into this incredible person’s life not by chance, but by design. We loved her so much, and she loved us right back.
So we are doing our best not to be selfish, but to rejoice that she is where she wanted to be, and that she is finally free from the pain she had to endure for so long. We are learning that grief is not something you get over, but you learn to live with it. And that’s just what we are doing and plan to do until we too take our last breaths–live, and live well.
Thank you, Mom.