Mother’s Day 2016: Dear Mama

Dear Mama

May 8, 2016

Dear Mama,

There are seasons when your absence from my life seem to pain me more than others. And this has been one of those seasons.

I’m living in a world where hate and fear dominate and people seem to have lost their minds; my kids included, at times. 🙂 Where everything appears so different and strange while at the same time seeming so normal. Where people still live lives of pretense and conformity, while verbally professing to one another “be unapologetically you.”

Oh, how I’ve needed your guidance, your strength, your support, and your unconditional love.

I’ve been at a crossroads for quite some time now and I can only imagine what it would be like to sit at the table with you and feast on your wisdom.

Mama you were my rock, my role model, my provider, my safe place – my everything. It’s been 33 years since I saw you alive. And it pains me to say, I realized last year, I cannot remember the sound of your voice. I’ve searched for a tape, a video, something where I could just hear your voice again.

img src="mama.jpg" alt="me and mom with together"Thankfully, I have pictures and wonderful memories. But with that, also comes the memories of your final days on earth. And last week, while riding home from a Listen to Your Mother storytelling event, those memories came crashing down on me.

Out of nowhere it seems as if I’d never grieved your loss or was it that I hadn’t forgiven myself. Yes, that was it. I’d never forgiven myself.

I’m so sorry I did not say a word to you while you lay lifeless in a coma. When I stepped in your hospital room, I was at a lost. I had no frame of reference, as a 15 year old girl, how I should respond.

I did not see you, my mama, on that hospital bed. I was confused. All I saw was the blankness of your glazed covered eyes, one barely open.

As if I was having an out of body experience, I could hear the nurses and my Aunt Carolyn say it was possible you could still hear us. “Talk to her”, they said. But I said nothing. I did nothing.

Of course now, I wish I’d grabbed your hand, caressed your arm, whispered in your ear, ANYTHING other than stare and run out, never to return.

img src="mama.jpg" alt="Mom with dignity and grace throwback"Thirteen days later your were gone. And I was utterly alone. Sure, there were family members, well meaning high school friends and my dad. A dad that I’d spent weekends with who would now assume his full-time role. But you, my dear mother, you were gone. And so was I.

In an instant, my world changed in 1983. My life would never be the same. I was a motherless child.

For a time, I was foolishly angry with God and with you. As if you had any say in being full of life one moment, lovingly serving others, caring for me and yourself, and suddenly sliding out of a chair the next, never to speak again.

As if you chose to have a brain aneurysm invade your body and strip you away from a life you’d finally gained the freedom to enjoy.

Again, I say I’m sorry.

On this mother’s day, some 33 years later, I realize I have to forgive my 15 year old self. And I know, if you could actually hear what was going on that day in the hospital, you held nothing against me either. You knew I was still essentially a kid.

img src="mama.jpg" alt="Mom with dignity and grace"

Thank you momma for showing me a life of resilience and faith. Despite the challenges life threw your way, you embraced the journey with dignity and grace. I can only hope I’ve lived my life, thus far, in a way that reflects your legacy.

I cherish our time together. I am forever grateful for at least getting 15 years to do life with you.

Still your daughter,


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  1. Tear jerker. Many of us can relate to this article. Your candid writing has been a blessing to me. I know forgiveness starts with ourselves and manifests. Stay in your truth and continue to cherish friends and family. Be blessed my sister

  2. I read your letter today. Tearing and smiling and reflecting.
    She would never feel you have to say you’re sorry. You were the apple of her eyes. We were there and we did speak for you.
    I apologize to your 15yr old self because I didn’t know. Maybe because I was caught up emotionally & trying to stay strong for you.
    I myself felt every emotion 6yrs later from that child’s aspect but I need you to know, that which I thought was strength in a 15yr old, helped me through an emotional carrousel at 25yrs old when mom passed.
    Your moms letter, words from our grandmother and most of all the way you at 15yrs old, (for 6yrs at that time), were able to knock down brick walls and now 33yrs later are still embracing life’s journey with the same dignity and grace as she, that beautiful, elegant aunt of mine passed on to her daughter.
    Again I say, you did nothing wrong but I’m glad you’ve forgiven your 15yr old self.
    She knew then and is smiling now that your ok within. Because she never left you.
    You are living your life that reflects her legacy! Believe that!

    1. Thank you! And it’s interesting you would mention that part about what you thought was strength. The night before I wrote this, I was telling C that so many people thought I was being strong but I was just numb. My world had been completely turned upside down. I could hear people around me at the funeral talking about how ‘strong’ I was or saying that to me, I guess because I wasn’t crying. But I had cried and raged a river days before she passed. So when she did pass, I was just numb. And then at some point, I felt she would not want me to be sad but to live. I decided I would just take one day at a time and finish HS still with excellence and make her proud. But I had been changed.

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