I’ve been wondering all day whether or not to write this. And if so, what to say. Because, when it comes to loss, what is there to say, really?
In life, there is love and there is loss. And a lot of other stuff in between. I can only hope that you have all been blessed with love, in some form or another. Loss, on the other hand, death, to be precise, is the one thing to which none of us is immune. We will all be affected by the loss of a loved one, or touched by the passing of someone special, at some point in our lives; often, many times over.
My family is not new to the loss of loved ones. All my grandparents are gone. A cherished great aunt. Two uncles. My husband’s mother. For me, though, the biggest, most heartbreaking loss was the loss of my mother, thirteen years ago today, at the age of 50. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer just around her 48th birthday. Too late, as is common with this disease. Little more than two years later, after surgery to remove a tumor the size of a grapefruit, copious rounds of chemotherapy, experimental procedures, hair loss, a brief remission and subsequent relapse, she was gone. Her strength of spirit never faltered but her body had handled all it could.
My mother was beautiful, she was classy, she was fun and she was funny. She snorted when she laughed. Whenever I snort through a chuckle I think of her. My mother was well-spoken and people spoke well of her. She was respected and admired. She was thoughtful and kind and she knew us better than we knew ourselves. She was intelligent and savvy. Scrabble was our favorite game to play together. She sang in church. She and my dad danced in the kitchen, arm in arm, much to our embarrassment. She would have made an amazing grandmother.
Through it all, I saw my father take on the role of caregiver and provider even though his heart was breaking a little more each day.
I remember thinking, back then, that I didn’t want to leave anything left unsaid. No regrets.
But, of course, I have many.
I was young. Twenty-four. I was pretty wrapped up in being independent and living “my life”. My dad set me straight one day, reducing me to tears. I’ll never forget that moment.
To cope with my feelings, I have often turned to writing; and living through the illness and loss of my mother was no different. In fact, as many will attest, pain and suffering, like love, seems to inspire. So I would like to share with you a poem I wrote in the days following my mother’s death:
Like a Dream
For my mother: hero, mentor, friend
You came to visit me last night
My guardian angel, all in white
And like a dream, you spoke to me
And like a dove, you set me free
Free to laugh and free to cry,
Free to dance and free to fly,
Free to feel a pain so deep
Free to feel the joy of sleep
So that once more you might appear
and one more time allay my fear
Lest I forget that heav’nly face
That now lives on in God’s good grace.