On the one year anniversary of my mother’s death I am sharing a letter I read to her shortly before she passed.
Did you know that I’ve saved all of the cards and notes you’ve written
to me over the last twenty years? Since I feared that cancer would
take you away from me one day I’ve kept all of your written words so I
could have them to comfort me.
You’ve always made me feel like a special person, like someone who has worth. You did such a great job of this that for a long, long time I didn’t feel like I could exist in this world without you to help me feel good about myself.
I thought of not having you and a stone would grow in my heart, weighing me down, filling me with dread and apprehension. You have always been like a
lighthouse that I could depend upon to steer me through rough seas.
You have been that reassuring light that meant: “You are safe, you are
steady, I am here.”
And boy, did I ever need that over and over. There were many years that I had to rely upon you and your light to get me through very hard times. Hard emotions, hard relationships, internal strife, money issues, self-esteem issues, etc.
You were always right there, on the other end of the phone line giving advice and reassurance, helping me see things from a different perspective and
offering the benefit of your own experiences.
I know that being my mother has not always been an easy task.
Sometimes I pushed you away because it was the only way I could figure
out where you started and I began. Sometimes we disagreed and said
hurtful things to each other. I know my decisions have not always been
ones you would have chosen for me. Despite all of that, you have
always stood by me and I’ve always known that you love me and are
proud of me.
Through you, I’ve learned to stand on my own two feet, and even figured out how to roast a chicken! You have given me the gift of a strong backbone, and the ability to laugh at my own foibles.
I have always been so impressed by how many people love and call you
their friend. You have dear friends who go back 40 plus years, people
who have traveled across the country to spend time with you and tell
you how much you have meant to them. Your friendship has truly been a
gift to so many. This is another attribute I aspire to.
You have taught me how to be a good listener, to empathize, to support and
appreciate all types of people. I will never be able to fill your
shoes, but I hope to keep in close contact with my aunts, uncles, and
cousins just as you have always done. I really believe you are the
glue that has kept our family so close.
Thank you for taking me and Marc on vacations and for tolerating us
when we were fighting and when we didn’t appreciate our good fortune.
Thank you for being so accepting of your siblings. Because of you I
have a wonderful relationship with Marc, and Dad, and I really think
it is because you taught me to be tolerant and forgiving. Please know
I will take good care of Dad not only because I know you’d like that
but because I really love him and enjoy him.
Thank you for my first very creamy and sugary drink of coffee, for my
first sip of wine, for all of the big family dinners, and for the
nightly 6:30 dinners when we would argue, yell, debate and laugh.
Thank you for instilling in me a love of Judaism, and for always being
a second mom to my girlfriends. Thank you for taking such good care of
Mom Mom because it really taught me to appreciate the next generation
and gave me a wealth of memories of her. Thank you for taking me to
Brazil as an adult, and for going on my first honeymoon with me.
Because of you I love to travel and explore new places. Thank you for
supporting me when I decided, out of the blue, to pack up and move to
New York City. I’ll never forget that rainy, rainy day when you and
Dad were there watching me graduate. Thank you for helping me get through having cancer.
And most of all , thank you for being there for the births of my children. Thank you for loving my children like they are your own. I’ll never forget the six weeks you spent with me and Ruby, and the countless hours you walked and rocked and adored all of your grandchildren. I have loved sharing stories about the kids, and laughing about them and being so proud with you.
Speaking of people who love you…what an amazing grandmother you have
been to Ruby, Lucas, and Theo! You have helped them build so many
memories that they will always have: making corncakes, having
sleepovers, trips to the beach and movies, drawing and painting,
laughing and playing.
I want you to know that though I will be lonely without you, though I
will grieve long and hard and will miss you every moment of every day,
I will be okay. I will look for you in the flowers, in the butterflies
and in rainbows. If there is a cat who comes through our backyard, I
will think of you and hope it is you peeking in my window and checking
in on me and my family.
Whenever I eat buttered sourdough toast or a good donut, make fried matzoh, or have a good, hot cup of coffee I will think of you.
Whenever I hear the giggles of my children or have a good cry I will think of you. Those times when I have a nice, long chat with a close friend, or talk to one of my favorite cousins on the phone, I will think of you.
When I walk through the mall, or eat something delicious in a restaurant, or travel somewhere new, I will think of you. When someone annoys me, I will want to tell you, and when something amazing happens I will think about sharing it with you.
Listen for me, because I will be talking to you and dreaming of you.
When the kids do something new and interesting, I will think of you,
and when I spend time with dad or Marc or Stacy, I will think of you.
When I plant poppies in the spring I will think of you, and imagine
you with Pop Pop. When I read a good book, or listen to waves of the
ocean rushing in and out, I will think of you.
Thank you for all of these gifts you have given me. You have been the perfect mother for me, and because of that I will go on, and so will you.
I pray that all of these memories we have built together will carry you gently off to your new life. I pray that you will watch us and laugh with us and
shake your head at our antics. Please know that you will always be
with us, in our hearts, and in our memories.
I will love you always.