Today I was working on cleaning up my inbox in my personal email. As my eyes scanned to the bottom of the list of “priority” emails, an area toward the bottom, metaphorically dusty and littered with various articles and links filed in my mind in the “I’ll-get-to-these-later” category, my mouse scanned across one particular message. And suddenly there it was: the warm, colorful, smiling profile photo of my mom.
A few Fridays ago on April 21st, 2017, my beautiful mom passed away at age 74. For around 14 months my mom, along with the enduring and vigilant support of my dad, had been battling cervical cancer. As I write this post, I still struggle to believe the very words I just wrote: my mom passed away. You see, my mom’s spirit was so large, so inclusive, so inspirational, so loving, that it seems impossible she will no longer inhabit this earth alongside my father, her family, her precious granddaughters, her friends, her dogs…or me. Mom was the living, breathing embodiment of life-giving generosity. She demonstrated unparallelled integrity, self-reliance, humility, and kindness. How can she be gone?
My mom’s life journey resembled a sacred mission. Confidently and actively she always reached out to all those she could touch, laying upon them a kind of nurturing, loving, and sage guidance that truly only she could muster. I remember recently riding in the car with her, sitting in the passenger’s seat. At my feet were several granola bars taped to water bottles. “What are these?” I asked. “Oh, those are for the homeless,” she nonchalantly replied. Ah, the ones standing on the street corners at the traffic lights, yes. I knew who she meant.
That’s the kind of person my mother was, right to the very end of her life– an advocate for those who needed a hand up (I’ve written about her before) and a person of unwavering gracious deportment. One of my final memories of Mom was when she, while lying in hospice care, gently took her ICU doctor’s hand between her own, tilted her head as she was wont to do, and hoarsely uttered the words, “Thank you for your work.”
Always a kind word. Always a generous acknowledgement. Always a gracious gesture.
And so, the journey begins, the first reluctant steps into a life without my mom. And, as a friend commented the other night, the silence is stunning.
I suppose I might add, since this blog is dedicated to supporting young readers and writers at home, that writing about my mom is something I plan to do. Writing is one important way we can hang onto not only moments we’ve lived, but people we’ve loved and people we’ve lost. People who meant so much to us. Like Mom.
As for my inbox, I don’t think I’ll be cleaning out emails from my beautiful mom anytime soon. For now, each remnant of her humanity holds priceless value. I love you, Mom. Thank you for being so amazing.
Dedicated to Donna Rae Callaway Ball, 1942-2017