Memories matter. They matter because at some point they may be all we have to sustain us. Especially, when we lose a loved one.
I lost my Mother recently. My beautiful, amazing mother. She was my best friend. Growing up, I never looked any further than my own home to find someone to look up to and admire. My mother was my hero. She embodied all that was good in the world.
Mommy was an active, vibrant 74-year-old woman. She drove a little PT Cruiser that said "Granzwgn," she loved to dance, and little children and "old people” were drawn to her. Mommy loved her God and devoted more than a 100 hours a month in volunteer service to Him. She was compassionate and caring. She laughed a lot. She exuded joy. She loved life.
Maybe Mommy didn’t accomplish much in terms of worldly success, in terms of fame or fortune, but in the eyes of her family and friends, she was wildly wealthy and hugely successful. Her titles included Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, Sister, Aunt, and Friend. The love she showered on her family and friends was as enormous as the Grand Canyon. To love and be loved in return is, in my mind, the greatest treasure that any of us can aspire to achieve. That is what makes us rich! Mommy’s enduring legacy was one of love. She loved her family and friends with all of her heart, and she was loved and cherished in return.
My Mother had four great grandchildren whom she called her “Grands.” The oldest Grand, Nattie, is just six years old, but she has wonderful memories of "Gram." My Mother babysat Nattie from birth until she went to pre-school. They loved to work in the garden together! They took walks, and they baked pies. Nattie often writes notes and cards to my Mom, telling her how much we miss her, how sad we are that she died and that she was a "Princess." My Mother would have been thrilled to be considered a Princess! Happily, in the mind and heart of this precious little six year old child, lies a memory of a wonderful great grandmother who was a Princess. For sure, over time, as she gets older, the memories will fade, but we have pictures and videos of Mom to help her remember, to keep Mommy alive in Nattie’s sweet little heart and mind. Also, we have an oral history of Mommy's life to share. I will continue to share memories of my Mom with my children, who in turn will share them with their children and on and on. Memories matter. A lot.
The pain of my Mother's death is still very fresh. At times I feel as if I can't breathe; other times, I feel as though my heart is broken, and indeed it is a painful physical reaction. My head and my heart are in constant competition. My head saying, "She's gone,” and my heart screaming, "No, that can’t be true...please?” Occasionally when I'm doing the most ordinary, mundane things, the tears erupt suddenly, forcefully, hot and overwhelming. I still struggle to wrap my head around the fact that Mommy was healthy right up to the minute the doctor told her she had stage-four cancer. Six months later, she was gone. I needed more time. Oh how I wish we'd had more time.
I've been told by others who have lost a loved one that "it will get easier." I don't know if this is true. I don't think so because Mommy's death is not natural, death is not natural. So while I know I will grow to accept this new reality, I also know I'll never get over it until Mommy and I are reunited. For me, it's like missing a limb. I don't feel whole without my beautiful Mother.