“I don’t know who will suffer most and how to ease their pain.”
My mom died when I was 9. My family never talked about it. Not when they knew it was coming and not after she died. I don’t remember even knowing she was sick – except that on Friday I noticed the whites of her eyes were yellow and I looked at her and said, “Mom, your eyes look funny.” Sometime that weekend she pulled me into her bed. She was wearing a wide-ribbed navy blue turtleneck and I think she had her stockings on and she hugged me and said, “No matter what happens to me, I’ll always love you.” On Tuesday in art my class made get well cards for her and I asked Dad if we could take them to her at the hospital. “Tomorrow,” he said. But tomorrow she died.
We never went back to visit her grave, never spoke much of her sickness or death or even her life. It has always seemed kind of strange to me. Maybe it’s because I’m her only daughter, I don’t know, but it has always been weird. Who was she, this woman who was my mother? In recent years my father has alluded to me being like her when I talk about cooking for my family and how we enjoy being together, but I don’t really know what he means.
Yesterday my daughter brought me a pile of stuff that my youngest had pulled off a shelf and one of the things was my mother’s journal. So I opened it, and started reading. There wasn’t much, and it was all written a few months before she died. “I don’t know who will suffer most,” she wrote, “or how to ease their pain.” Interestingly enough, she knew in May that she had cancer in many places in her body; she knew she was dying. In her last entry in the journal, she spoke of her struggle with a friend and how she didn’t want to be a burden to people. Her final words struck me: “I hope I never drag other people down when I’m down. There is just so much to appreciate and enjoy if you take time.”
I’ve never forgotten her final words to me, and I pray I never forget her final written words either. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? In the meantime, there is just so much to appreciate and enjoy if you take time.
This article was first published on, My Corner of the Woods. Reposted by permission of the author.