My mother was one of the most aspiring and inspiring people I have ever known. She had a way of lighting up the day, with her enduring positive outlook on life. She enjoyed making people feel at home, laughing and always trying to find the good in everything, no matter how bleak or hopeless the situation.
The day I received a phone call and learned she had cancer was one of the worst days of my life, but even then she remained optimistic, reassuring me everything would be fine. She had surgery to remove part of her throat, and for that reason she was unable to speak. For my mother, this was the worst thing that could have happened. Her ability to verbalize with sound was abruptly taken away from her, and her smiles became a little less jolly and the sparkle in her eyes a little less bright.
Still, she remained steadfast, and optimistic. She learned to use a voice machine held against her neck to speak. In a few months time, she was able to communicate quite well, and in doing so she regained some of the self-respect that she had lost in the beginning, when she realized she was unable to speak. Understand that my mother was a very proud woman. When she lost her ability to speak, she felt a certain loss of self, because helping people through the use of her voice was her identity; she felt stripped of the one thing she held so dear to her heart.
When cancer finally took her life, a bright star was dimmed, leaving the world a little colder, and less inviting. Several years ago, my mother and I discussed the uniqueness of life and all that it had to offer. I can remember as if it were yesterday when she said to me, “You know, when I die, I’m going to come back and haunt you. I’m going to sit by you on the bed.” This was a usual statement coming from my mother, but we both laughed, saying nothing more about it.
I decided I should go speak to her. I went to my room, sat down on the bed, and gazing in her direction I said, “Mom, I can’t see you but I know you’re there. I just wanted to say that I love you, and I miss you, thank you for coming to see me. I love you mom, forever.” And then I slowly slid the closet door shut. I sat there and cried. This was my way of saying goodbye to her, a chance I didn’t have before she died because we lived in different states. Her death was unexpected; she passed away peacefully in her sleep. I am grateful my mother gave me the opportunity to say goodbye.
My friend who was also there at the time was in awe of this great event, and kept asking, “What should we do?”
I simply said, “What my mother would have wanted, to just simply say, hello and I love you.”
I share with you the picture I captured of my mother that day. It is grainy because it was taken with an old computer camera, but it gives me a certain sense of possibilities, and that is what my mother was all about: reassurance and an endless amount of possibilities.
Thank you, mom, for the gift.