Last Letter to My Mom

death grief Dec 01, 2022

Dear Mom,

I'm sitting here at my desk writing this letter to you.

It's been a long work week, I'm tired. I've had a million different emotions. Your funeral is the day after tomorrow.

I won't be there in person but will watch it all via Zoom and I can feel in my heart that you're ok with that. So I'll start here with my thank you's, "thank you."

I'm writing this letter to you and speaking out loud so you can hear me. I know you can hear me because I feel you here.

The day I had my first child, everything changed in so many big ways. Right out of the gate I was flabbergasted by the sacrifice you made to have me, and everything you endured doing that.

You always said how happy you were to have me, and that makes me happy too.

I wouldn't be me without you.

I look at the photographs of me holding my birthday cakes and know it's because of you that I had those cakes and the knee socks and so many friends or cousins in the birthday pictures. Thank you mom.

You did a fantastic job of making the holidays special. It was something I counted on and you always came through.

We've shared a lot of experiences together, haven't we.

Not all of the them were happy or felt good. 

Some were very hard.

But we did get through it, together, in our own way.

We played a lot of Rummikub, you and I.

Watching some Wild Kingdom and Lawrence Welk on Saturday nights was a favorite of mine.

You would keep things fresh in little ways. Instead of eating all of our meals at the kitchen bar, we'd eat upstairs in the "new room," or outside on the picnic table, just for a little change of scenery. 

I remember one sad September day sitting underneath the dining table in the family room, it was dark and cold. You were sitting in your recliner, sobbing.

I remember with crystal clarity making a firm declaration to myself that no matter what, I would keep you happy because to me it seemed that sadness equalled death.

That decision has had a long shelf life and today it's no longer alive. I feel oddly free and shocked at the weight I carried linked to a childish belief that I could keep you alive by keeping you happy.

I watched you sitting at the kitchen bar with bills and receipts and your little adding machine, your head in your hands as you cried and fearful thoughts spilled out of your mouth wondering how you'd EVER be able to manage all of "this."

I really didn't know how we would, but I did know that I could work even harder to help you be happy.

Dad dying was a new mountain to climb together, wasn't it?!

I did it my way and you did it yours, and we both made it through. Look at us!

I watched you get married again and then go dancing, and to movies, and to play bingo. I wish to god I would have had the wisdom then that I have now and that I could have been happy for you to have some fun.

You needed that fun, desperately. 

But then Ken got sick and I worked even harder to make you happy.

Oh what a road.

I remember you taking your trip to Egypt and you loving every second of it. Except the part where you couldn't imagine for-the-life-of-you why some people on the tour would stay on the bus rather than go explore. Not you, you got off of the bus and took in everything you could possibly see.

Throughout our years, I watched you hold and tend and love my little kids, thank you for that Mom.

Oh and I cannot forget to mention the huge heart Valentine's Day cookies. Without fail a package would arrive in the mail and we'd open the box and everyone would have a cookie with their name on it. 

And let's for sure remember the Mrs. Cavanaugh's cherry cordials. Yep, I'd buy you a box and then you'd hide it in your room so you could enjoy your chocolates on your own time. This makes me chuckle! 

You cooked, you sewed, you cleaned, worked in the home and outside of it, grew tomatoes, picked berries of all sizes and flavors, bottled fruit, made apple sauce, made jam, made roast beef, made mashed potatoes, made pancakes, made bread, made pies, made donuts, made clothes, made quilts, made mush for breakfast every day of my young life, unless it was Sunday morning, THEN we got the coveted Cheerios or Corn Flakes, but ONLY on Sunday. I think that's why Sunday was such a special day. 😘

Mom, thank you for every single thing you made for me.

Thank you for doing the best you knew.

It's enough.

As I walked into your hospital room a couple of weeks ago, you and I reuniting after 8 years of not seeing each other, I took one look at those eyes of yours and instantly knew that I belong with you.

We're made of the same stuff.

And mom, thank you for calling me Jack, when you named me Susan. 

Thank you for being you, the exact you that you are. 

I see you. 

And in you I see me.

Thank you for that.


Your son Jack