“Why don’t you guys plan on staying for dinner tonight? I’m making my famous Chinese Chicken dish.” My mother held her hands out toward me and carefully took my newborn baby from my arms.
“Wow Mom, that would be great.”
The year was 2009, and school had started back up. After spending a lovely summer adjusting to our new roles as parents, my wife and I needed to return to work- my wife part-time, me full-time. And we now enjoyed the great fortune of leaving our new daughter in the capable hands of my parents three days a week.
Two years later, another baby came along, and she happily agreed to take that baby, too. During those days, my mother sang to them, danced with them, saw to a regular nap schedule, fed them, and – most of all – loved them beyond measure.
Yesterday my phone rang. It was my father. “It’s been almost a year,” he reminded me. I glanced at the calendar hanging on my wall, thought about the date. Yes, it has indeed been nearly a year. “I’m going to host a small gathering this Saturday,” my father continued, his voice solemn, “to honor your mom. I’m asking everyone attending to write a letter to her. I know you’re too far away to attend, but would you send something? I’ll read it at the gathering.” Of course, I assured him. Placing my finger on the red “end call” button, I paused. What will I write? I silently wondered. I could thank her, couldn’t I? I could thank her for taking care of my girls when they were so little. I could thank her for working three jobs so I could go to college. I could thank her for inspiring me to become a teacher. I could thank her for being not only the most wonderful mother anyone could ask for, but the most incredible human being I’ve ever known. I could thank her for her delicious Chinese Chicken.
Many have told me the loss of a mother takes a great deal of time to process. They are right. Later today, I will draft a letter to my wonderful mom. And once again, I’ll lean on writing- as I have in the past – to help get me through a difficult time.