Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Never Goodbye; Until We Meet Again

This is the last picture of my Mom and me together, taken on her 93rd Birthday a year ago today. We celebrated at the adult family home with cake, ice cream, punch, popcorn snacks, and live music. My brother, John flew up from Houston as a last minute surprise. Memories from that day swirl around in my head as I remember small snippets of conversation, stray thoughts, the orchid plant someone brought, the silver watch I gifted Mom, and the singing of "Happy Birthday"

Did I consider this celebration of her birth might be the last?  Did I consider the photograph above might be the last of us as mother and daughter?  No. In the moment those thoughts vanish. Gratefully.

This week thoughts of Mom consume me; her death like a raw edge all over again. I miss her embrace, her warm smell, her love. In those final months of her life, I often wondered if she recognized me as her daughter. Sometimes I would ask her when her face was blank, far off somewhere, consumed by another reality. She would say, "Yes, of course; you're Kitty." Nonetheless, I wondered about an erosion of our deep connection as mother and daughter. Her essence, her living soul and presence hidden and no longer. She died before she actually died.

Years ago at Christmas, she gave me a small, wrapped box with a gold bow and dangling heart. The gift was never to be opened; unwrapping the package would destroy its message and intent. Mom scoured catalogs for interesting, unusual gifts; I became the recipient of dozens. This one in particular speaks to my heart today, what would be her 94th Birthday were she alive.

The underside of the box contains the real message of the gift. It reads:

"This is a very special gift that you can never see, The reason it's so special is it's just for you and me.
Whenever you are lonely or ever feeling blue, you only have to hold the gift and know I think of you. 
You never can unwrap it. Please leave the ribbon tied, Just hold the box close to your heart; it's filled with love inside."

I love you, Mom. I miss you so much today.


  1. Thank you for sharing the memories and the photos. Grief becomes less 'cutting' as time passes, but it still comes in waves, doesn't it. It has been 4 1/2 years since my husband died, and I am grateful to have had time to heal. I still miss him dearly and the golden years we could have shared, as you do your mom...

  2. What a beautiful box! Your mom is still with you and will be till the very end. Tina

  3. Dear Kate,

    Lovely loving post.

    I know you appreciate how your pain today reflects the years of love and joy with your Mother.

    You may find something comforting -- or useful -- in the book, The Long Goodbye by Meghan O'Rourke. Best book on grief I've come across in a long time.

    With sympathy and hope, Wendy


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