Sunday, May 15, 2011

See you on the other side

To those who have been following my blog and the journey with my mom, I wanted to let you all know that she passed away Monday, May 9th. I was blessed to be there with her in the end, though it was the hardest moment of my life.

There's a lot running around in my head about mom but I can't seem to find the right words to write. So, I'll share the eulogy I wrote and thank you all for your love and support.

As I sat down to write this eulogy last night, I struggled about where to start. So I took to mom’s own words for guidance. As I reread the obituary that mom wrote many months ago, I realized that she left out many facts about herself. She didn’t note her age or employment history. She didn’t mention where her kids live or where she was born.

What is in the obituary, however, is what mattered most to her -- and that was the people she loved. Mom liked nothing better than to have her family around her especially when she could cook her fabulous turkey dinner for Thanksgiving. And she insisted on doing just that last November – chemo and all.

My sister Lisa said recently that mom’s spirit was and is so strong that she will never really be gone. Since I feel the same as Lisa, I would like to address the rest of these words directly to mom.

Hi mom. We are missing you like crazy but family and friends are all gathered here just like you wanted. Even people who never met you but love the children you raised so much that they know you through them.

My friend Patty called yesterday. You remember Patty. My friend who met you only a couple of times years ago before she moved to Florida. She called to say that she felt a connection to you that she hasn’t felt since her own mother passed away twenty years ago. And that she was sorry she couldn’t be here to honor you.

You had that effect on people, mom. I never met anyone who didn’t instantly fall in love with you. Must have been that they recognized your instant love for them. Every person you met was a potential new friend and received that big warm genuine smile and a hug before you parted.

You made everyone feel like they were at their best when they were with you. I know I did. This awkward, socially-scared little girl who grew up to be a confident, extroverted woman because of how much you accepted and loved her unconditionally.

I always marveled at how quickly and completely you could peel away the outer layers of insecurity and false bravado to find the jewel that lay within. You knew people through their hearts not their missteps. This kept you free from the disappointment in others that the rest of us struggle with and it also opened up your heart to a greater knowing and a deep kindness.

This spiritual freedom allowed you to live fully in each moment and capitalize on any fun that may be lurking around the corner.

Ron says you were a walking party. We’ve been reminiscing about the pianos you couldn’t walk by without plunking down on the bench and playing a tune. Didn’t matter if it was in a fancy restaurant or a pub in Ireland. There was fun to be had and you were on call 24 X 7.

We all loved sitting around the piano in your living room singing the old songs that you knew by heart. I think you liked to play the piano mostly because it brought people together. That was your mission in life and where you found and shared so much joy.

But I think that your love for dad was greater than any other love in your life. It was especially evident in the way you cared for each other in times of poor health. Dad’s devotion to you in this final battle was the greatest gift of love anyone could give. I know you know that, mom, but I wanted to tell you anyway.

Thank you, mom, for trusting me and Joe to walk with you in your final moments. There has never been a greater love between a mother and son as there is between you and Joe. And that will live on along with that strong spirit that Lisa talked about. Your spirit won’t just live in your immediate family but will be there in the nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends whom you’ve celebrated and who have given you so much love in return.

We are all looking forward to meeting your newest granddaughter, Nora Cecelia Lindsay.  Just think, mom, you’re finally getting a Nora in the family. And Lisa, Scott, and Toby won’t be the only ones to tell her all about you. You’ve got all of us here who know and love you in our own personal ways.

So, be at peace, mom, and know that you accomplished something that few others can. You not only made us love you, you also made us love ourselves. We will be lifted by your beautiful spirit as we carry on, our loads lightened and our hearts full.