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Giving is the Greatest Triumph Over Grief

Giving is the greatest triumph over grief.

Live in the present…

was written on the first page of the tiny little composition notebook, I found on my mother’s night stand.

This was a pocket-journal she carried in Europe, while traveling with my dad, 12 years before. This trip meant everything to her, although while there, she started having inflammation in her brain. My mom had already been sick with an autoimmune disease that had been attacking her body for years. 

I had never seen this little journal before, nor knew my mother wrote, except all her “to do” lists I saw everywhere.

In the little notebook were bible verses she liked, names and numbers of people she met on her trip, books to read and observations of the country and people. What struck me the most, was 5 tiny pages of creative writing, dreams she had and how she felt, while staying in Venezia.

“The air Vivaldi breathed, I breathe too.
Air is like water, I realize, never leaving the earth,
caught in an ancient cycle of inspiration and expiration. 
Water never leaves the earth.
Even the rains that washed the first humans drained into a stream, that ran into a river, that washed into the sea.
So every rain is old and returning.”

How poignant and beautiful; considering I found it the night before her funeral.

It was a normal Wednesday, I was in the library with my children watching a magic show, while texting pictures to my mom. All of a sudden I started getting calls from her. I said “I can’t talk, what’s up?” Call after call, until finally a text said, “Call me NOW!!!”

I stepped out and called. It was my dad who answered her phone. He told me someone had died but wouldn’t tell me who. He told me to call when I got home. I finally made him tell me. My mom had died in her sleep.

I will never forget how I felt.

My insides were shaking, I couldn’t breathe and total shock took over, combined with child-like tears and disbelief. “This is not happening, this is not real, I don’t believe it, I don’t know what to do, PLEASE be dreaming…”

Nothing prepares you for the loss of someone you love so dearly, especially a parent. How do you deal with such overwhelming grief? It was so sudden, I wasn’t ready. I felt robbed of time. We had plans, we had just talked the night before.

I arrived at my parent’s home just before the funeral home took my mom away. As I draped my arms around her, for one last hug, I felt anguish and incredible grief. I didn’t do enough, I didn’t say enough.

I was grieving what could have been.

My mom was only 62. She was so excited about the plans we were making for her new bedroom. She looked so beautiful and well. She even stood in the doorway when I arrived Sunday. (This was unusual since my mom couldn’t breathe well enough, to leave her room very much.)
 
The last thing my mom said to me that day, when I went to hug her goodbye, was to “look at me good, because I might not be here much longer.” She looked me deep in the eyes and gave me the longest and tightest hug I’ve had in a long time.
She was doing so good, I had no idea she would die three days later.
I’m so glad she gave me that moment.
It was so compelling and unusual, that I told my husband when we got in the car, what she had said.

How did she know I needed that beautiful memory of how much she loved me? 

Less than a week later, my sister and I decorated my mom’s casket for her celebration of life, complete with ruby red slippers and a sheer veil, that made her look like Snow White. She loved the Wizard of Oz and especially musicals. We included a hand painted sign from my brother’s wife, that read, “There’s no place like home.
My sister and I sobbed with grief as we curled my mom’s hair, painted her nails and lips and put jewelry on her. She always had to “paint her lips.” I’m so glad I got to paint them one last time.

Giving her this gift of love, was the hardest day I’ve ever had, yet the most cherished memory, of giving to my mom. We wanted her celebration of life to be special and we healed by caring for her.

Giving is the greatest triumph over grief.

Why do we wait, until it is too late, to tell someone we love them dearly and look them deeply in their eyes?

I had said many times, that I would curl her hair, when she told me how hard it had become. Why did I wait until she was laying in a casket to do it? Why didn’t I do it Sunday when I saw her?

Time is fleeting, every day, another sunrise and sunset.

Whoever you love, tell them. Look them in the eyes and hug them deeply. There is never as much time as you think.

Whatever you want to do in life, you should just go ahead and do it.

Nothing is real except right now.

Now is when I will write the book, I said I would write.
Now is when I will start drawing, painting and sculpting again.
Now is when I will plan a trip to Italy, to go where my mom wrote about.
Now is when I will make time to read a story every time my daughter asks.
Now is when I will listen intently and love deeply.

There are only so many tomorrows and no promises for how many.

“I don’t remember growing older, when did they? Sunrise, Sunset…” -Fiddler on the Roof

One of the many musicals my mom loved, with such a deep message, of how important time is.

You finally made it over the rainbow. I love you Mom.

Laura

 

 

“Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older, when did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
Sunrise, sunset.”

 

2 Comments

  • mama bonnie

    the bond between a mother and daughter is unlike any other.. her breath and beating heart – the language of our very first conversation.. it is so hard when that breathing and heartbeat stop… but The conversation continues. … my moms last words to me were on the phone. we were planning my daughters wedding… I was stressing about some minor matter. I can’t even remember what it was. my mom said . “there’s nothing to worry about honey. we will hip hop through this. the best part is, we will all be together .” she transitioned a week later, a month before the wedding . yes I hip hopped through it and I felt her presence every moment. it is such a blessing that your mother gave you a beautiful last lingering moment with her. Looking into your eyes. loving you so much. She continues to love you… yes she will continue to speak to you LAURA. in different ways at different times. warm hug.

    September 2, 2017 at 4:43 AM

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