These past three years have gone by quickly. Sometimes I still go into Mom’s old room to share a bit of news. “Hey, Mama, guess who just called to say hi?” Of course, I don’t expect a response. The room has been quiet for a long time now. The nebulizer and oxygen machine are long gone. The television, too. But the bed, table, and chairs remain. It was her room for the last four and a half years of her life. I brought her breakfast, lunch, and dinner to that room. I sat with her there and watched bits of TV shows, chatted, and read to her. I painted her toenails, administered her medicine, and checked her blood pressure. Even as I did my best to hold on tightly, I watched her slip away, slowly, slowly, slowly.
This morning I had a conversation with her ashes, as if they were a conduit to the afterlife. I told her how much I miss her and how much I love her. I closed my eyes and remembered what it felt like to be hugged by her. I remembered the way her startlingly blue eyes sparkled every time she smiled at me. I could count on that smile as I set her breakfast tray on the table. “Oh, my!” she would say, “That’s beautiful! But how will I ever eat it all?” But she always did; her appetite was good in the mornings, and so I made sure breakfast was the best meal of the day.
I have honored her last wish to, “just stay close to my little kid,” by creating a special place for her ashes at the cottage. She always called me her angel, but she’s my angel now. My heart hurts today as I remember the pain of letting her go. I am simultaneously sad and joyful. My life is full, and I am so very grateful for having been raised by a mother like her: optimistic, funny, compassionate, and loving. I am grateful, too, for the opportunity to have been there when she needed me and for the grace to lovingly release her when the time came.
Rest in peace, Mama, and know you will live in my heart forever.