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One Year


MomsGirl

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Dear Mom,

It’s been one year today since I last saw your beautiful face. No illness, no matter how devastating, could ever take that away from you. It may have stolen some of your dignity in the end, but your beauty remained. Watching you take your last breath while we desperately said we love you over and over, like you were standing on the deck of a ship and sailing away…that will always be the most heartfelt moment of my life. I actually saw your soul leave your body, and at that moment I just wanted to follow you. I was thinking oh my GOD, Mom, please don’t leave me, PLEASE don’t leave me, I can’t bear it…yet I knew I had no control and had to take this last moment with you and cherish it forever.

You were such a vibrant, well-loved and yes, feisty little person, all 4’ 11” of you. Wife, mother of five, grandmother of 14. You were the most generous person I have ever known, you cared about everyone and took care of everyone you knew (or didn’t know). You would literally give someone the shirt off your back. Your beloved little brother said in his eulogy that at the time of his college graduation, when you were a struggling young military wife and mother living far away and neither of you had a penny to your names, he received a note that there was a brand new navy blazer waiting for him at the men’s shop nearby. You couldn’t let him graduate without a decent sportcoat – that is so you. He never, ever forgot that.

As a mom, well what can I say. I was a mama’s girl from the start. You brought me home from the hospital on your 30th birthday, and you always told me I was the “best present you ever got”. I had a stomachache every day of kindergarten, remember? Because I missed my mommy and I also felt guilty for leaving you all alone to care for my baby sister without my “help”. How funny is that? You were probably dancing in the streets because you had a little break! When I was sick you let me stay in you and Dad’s bed and watch TV and you would give me backscratches and make me egg sandwiches, and you would press your soft cheek against my forehead to check for a fever. You always smelled so good, and I always felt so safe and loved with you.

And fast forwarding to my life now, no matter what happened you were right there with me. You cried with joy when Kyle was born, loved him with such a passion from the minute he entered this world. When I found out my second baby had no heartbeat and I had to deliver her, the very first person I called was you, sobbing that the baby is gone, the baby is gone…and you went right into mom mode and with military precision got everything lined up with the family to babysit Kyle, and then held my hand and were so strong for me when I had to say goodbye to my tiny daughter. I know these things tore at your soft heart, and sometimes I felt guilty for putting you through them. When I told you that, you said simply, “Michele, I couldn’t be anywhere else.”

But now I think of the things I will have to face in the future, both happy and sad, without you. I already am facing them, so many things this year. So many firsts I can’t share with you, so many day to day things. When I told you about the baby I was expecting you were so sick from the chemo, but you jumped up from the table and your eyes lit up and you said “A new life, a new life! That’s just what we need around here…” And then you made me laugh so hard when you looked at me very seriously and said “I THOUGHT something was going on, because your chest has looked bigger.” Only a mom would say that. And we laughed about the fact that while you were throwing up from the chemo early on, I was throwing up in the backyard bushes because I didn’t want you to hear me and know I was pregnant yet! You ALWAYS knew before I told you. But this time you really didn’t, you had more important things to worry about. And that was the beginning of the change of life as I knew it. I never imagined I would be where I am today, without you. My deepest fear was that you would not live to see the baby born, but I never really let myself think it would come to pass.

So I just want to say that I’m trying, Mom, I’m trying to be as strong as you were. I can only dream of being one-tenth the person you were. I will forever strive to be the woman you raised me to be. And I will keep your memory alive in the minds of your grandchildren, they will always know how much you loved them and cared for them, what a very special nana you were to them and how much they worshipped you. And I’m so, so sorry that you lost your life in this struggle – we tend to think a lot about ourselves, because we are left behind, but I also think about you, and how you lost the biggest thing of all. I’m so very sorry for that….

So Mommy, wherever you are, know that I love you and I will miss you always, always.

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Thanks, you guys. I cried writing it, and I cried reading your comments. She really was an unforgettable mother and person. I would say her only fault was she was sometimes impatient (thus the "feisty" thing), but that was because she was so full of life and lived every moment. My uncle called her the Energizer Bunny. :) And she was loyal, sometimes to a fault - although is that possible? She never gave up on anybody she loved, and those are the people that cried the hardest at her funeral. Her unconditional love was something you treasured. I remember when she was in surgery for her biopsy, my tough and equally feisty uncle looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Your mother is a living saint." For a brother to consistently feel that way about his sister, that is rare.

I re-read my post today and realized not only is there no exaggeration in any of it, but that it doesn't even do her justice. She had so much more living to do....

Thanks again for your support, it means so much....

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Michele-

I am sorry I missed this yesterday.

I wish I could bring your mom back so she could meet Conor. Oh, how I know how badly you would love to put that baby into her arms. Unfortunately, I know all too well. I hung onto the belief that when my mom looked at me from her hospital bed and said, "I AM going to be here for this baby's birth" she would be, no matter what, because when my mom set out to do something, she ALWAYS accomplished it. Three weeks later I was giving birth in absolute shock that my mom was really gone from my life forever. Now there's a new little person here that my mom doesn't know, and will never know, and who will never know her, and that REALLY, really hurts.

There's lots more I'd like to say, but just know that I do understand every word of what you're saying. I'm so sorry that your mom isn't here to enjoy all of Conor's milestones. For me, losing my mom has been so life-changing that I sometimes feel nowadays that I'm on the outside looking in, going, "Who IS that person? I don't even recognize her." It might not make sense, but it's something I am struggling with these days for many reasons. One thing I know for sure is that it's hard to live my life every day without her love.

Sounds like your mom and mine had lots in common...and mine was 4'11", too! :)

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