Even though my mother died from metastatic breast cancer just days after my 30th birthday, I still think of her on this day. At the beginning of her battle, I gave her a journal because I wanted her to have a safe place to put her feelings. She was always more concerned with the welfare of others, especially her five children, and, more than anything, I wanted to crawl inside her and know what she was really feeling.
When she died, I took the journal from her nightstand. I couldn't read it for a long time, but I knew it was the one most valuable possession she'd left for me. And all these years later, I take it out on Mother's Day and for a few moments, she is back in my life. Alive and speaking of her love for me through the words she recorded. It always thrills me to see her handwriting.
And though it is a heartbreaking experience to go back, it is heart warming at the same time. In the front of the journal, she wrote these words: "This was given to me by my daughter. I feel sorry for a mother who's never had a daughter. She has missed so much. Sons are nice, but a daughter is something special."
I once read that when you gaze into the face of your infant daughter, you are looking at the person most likely to hold your hand when you die. It seems fitting, doesn't it? We usher her into life. She ushers us out.
In my mother's final entry in her journal, she expresses her concern for me. Though I didn't tell her, somehow she knew it had been a bad year. Besides finding out she was dying in October, one month later I was diagnosed with cancer. In December I learned that my husband was having an affair and our marriage was likely over. Our children were three and five years old. It was the darkest time in my life. But even in that darkness, her strength and her faith in me provided a light that shines still.
This is my mother's last entry in her journal. "I can't believe it has been so long since I have written in my book. I couldn't do anything while my daughter was in the hospital and I worry about her losing so much weight. You know, mothers are like that."
Yes, my mother was like that. And all these years later, I am happy for the words she left me--for the reminder of her love. The first time I had a poem published, it was on the back of a church bulletin. I sent it to my mother. She called the next day, "I couldn't sleep all night because I was thinking about my famous daughter." I am a writer because of her encouragement.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom. And thanks for believing in me.