By Dottie Menkhaus
Certain days of the year— such as birthdays, anniversaries, and Mother’s Day—are difficult after the loss of your mother. The date on the calendar triggers a tidal wave of memory and emotion. March 24 is when my Mom passed away from breast cancer at the young age of 48. I was 16 at the time. It’s hard to believe that happened 16 years ago , so she has now been gone half my life.
It is difficult to think about all the things she has missed, such as graduations, career successes and failures, laughter and tears. She never got to see me grow into adulthood.
I never know how I am going to feel on the anniversary of her death. Some years are harder than others. This year I had decided to try to fill the weekend with joy, instead of sadness, as Mom would not want me to be so sad. I spent the weekend hanging out with close friends. A friend came over on Saturday and taught me how to cook a few dishes. Sunday a friend took me out to lunch after church. Then another friend visited me and made me laugh.
Later, I sat by Mom’s grave and told her all about the wonderful friends in my life—friends she never got to meet. I wondered how I could have become so lucky as to have three friends spend time with me on that difficult day.
Then it came to me as a gentle whisper in the breeze. You learned how to be a friend from me. To be kind, to love people. I taught you that. Yes! That was it! I had been so focused on all the things I have missed out on—the things she never had the chance to teach me, the conversations we never had—that I had forgotten the things she did teach me. It is no mystery why my Mom was so loved by many. She showed me these things by how she lived, always caring more for others than herself. Even though she is no longer here physically, I have carried her in my heart all along. Her gentle wisdom, her essence, is always with me.
Thanks Mom for the reminder, and I hope I embody those lessons you taught me. I thank God for the wonderful friends in my life.