“But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?”

“It isn’t easy, but I’ll try.”

I miss you, Mama.  In ways I can’t quantify.  Sometimes, you feel like my “big fish” story.  Your goodness almost seemed exaggerated.  You were always better than this world.  Not because you were perfect…far from it.  But where so many hide their flaws and frailties, you laid yours bare, and used them as tools for understanding other people.  I have yet to meet anyone with that level of compassion.

I started reading the summaries of your medical records this week.  One day, I’ll finish them, but I don’t think this will be the week for that.  You suffered so much.  I still fight being angry at God for what you went through.  No one deserves that type of suffering, and you least of all.  I don’t say this because you’re my mom.  I say this because you were good, kind and genuine in a world sorely lacking those qualities.  When I look at the best parts of myself, the parts which draw people to me, I know that’s you.  How did you manage to be there for everyone, and still manage to take care of us as well as you did?  I never once felt like you neglected us.  I remember walking into your hospital room, and seeing Chanelle curled up with you because you wanted to make sure she felt okay about seeing you that way.  You looked in the mirror and saw everyone who needed you before you saw yourself.

You worried about being a burden.  We would have preferred you to have good health, but caring for you was our privilege.  You had so much pride, and certain aspects of your care challenged that.  I hope that when I took care of you, I always treated you with dignity.  I promise, that’s what I tried to do.  It’s as though you forgot how you cared for me, when you were a new mother caring for me, a toddler in a body cast.  Rather than putting me in a wheelchair, I was “the little girl in the red wagon.”  Daddy told me that when I would come in for checkups, they were amazed at how clean you kept my cast.  If you could do all of that for me, I would have been crazy to not lovingly care for you.

Sometimes people get ill and pass away, and their loved ones see them as a shell of their former selves.  You were different, but you were always strong. Your heart is what made you who you were and that never wavered.  Your long distance friends were always a bit jarred when they saw how ill you were, because your voice and spirit always sounded strong and sure.  You held on until you felt I was at least strong enough to help the girls through it.  I remember the day they had to have told you that you were dying.  You called for Daddy, sounding upset.  I talked about what we would do when you got home, and you burst into tears.  I was never angry at you when you had to let go.  Knowing that you had to leave us must have been unbearable.  I just wasn’t ready.  Truthfully, I never would have been ready.

I look at my peers with mothers who still run their lives a bit and I laugh, because that would be us.  I can admit that.  It’s the nature of the mother/adult daughter relationship.  I imagine what our argument would have been like when I told you I was moving away (because you KNOW it would have been knock down-drag out).  I think about your excitement to come up here and decorate my place, because in the end, you’d want my place to be fly.

As sad as it is that you’re not here, I still feel lucky.  Some people go an entire lifetime without meeting a person like you, and I had you every day for almost 18 years.  It’s crazy, because I never did a thing to deserve you.  None of us did.  But, every soul you left behind misses you as keenly as if we just lost you yesterday.  I haven’t heard your voice in 20 years, but I can still hear it, clear as a bell in my head.

Seventeen years later, I’m still just that girl who wants her mom.  Seventeen years later, I’m still in awe of the person you were.  Thank you for being amazingly imperfect.  I miss you still.

All my love and gratitude,



4 responses to ““But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?”

  1. it’s so crazy that i stumbled upon this by accident. save for a thing or two, it was like i was reading the letter to my mother that i could never bring myself to write. *sigh* i know it’s not why you posted it, but thank you for helping a stranger.

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