Guest Post: A Loving Daughter’s Last Letter to Her Mom
My friend — a friend of friends, really, but more than that — has many gifts, among them the art of the perfectly delivered Facebook status update. Wry, funny, poignant snapshots of her life; hysterically insightful things her 7-year-old daughter says; brief but hugely entertaining missives from a woman with a slightly twisted mind and a giant heart.
This summer, updates about her mom began creeping in. Over the next few months, between the laugh-out-loud messages, disturbing words made their debut. Cancer. Bad news. Complications. Worsening. Hospice.
Each update — some humorous, some not — painted a rich picture of grief upon a tiny canvas.
Just last week, I asked her to consider gracing this blog with a guest post, if she felt up to putting her words into a longer format than Facebook affords. One morning this week, around 7:30 Eastern Time, an e-mail from her popped in.
“This is the last letter I wrote to my mom. Wanted to share it with you.”
I read it immediately and wrote back that I could barely read it through my tears. I thanked her for sharing this precious gift and promised to use it with care.
After pushing the send button, it dawned on me that it was 4:30 a.m. her time. What she was doing up in the middle of the night?! But then I went on with my morning routine, making breakfasts and lunches and getting kids out the door and didn’t fully process the situation. It wasn’t until later that day that I looked back at her Facebook page. Her mom had died at 1:30 a.m. her time. Thunk.
Her words are at once beautiful and difficult. They are the loving words of a daughter grateful for things big and small. They are the raw, honest words of a daughter who has fought with her mom and struggled to differentiate herself from the woman who gave her life.
I am honored to be entrusted with these words that express both deep grief and great joy and, with her permission, to share some excerpts with you.
By Jennifer Weinberg
Did you know that I’ve saved all of the cards and notes you’ve written to me over the last twenty years? Since I feared that cancer would take you away from me one day I’ve kept all of your written words so I could have them to comfort me. You’ve always made me feel like a special person, like someone who has worth. …
I know that being my mother has not always been an easy task. Sometimes I pushed you away because it was the only way I could figure out where you started and I began. Sometimes we disagreed and said hurtful things to each other. I know my decisions have not always been ones you would have chosen for me. Despite all of that, you have always stood by me and I’ve always known that you love me and are proud of me. Through you, I’ve learned to stand on my own two feet, and even figured out how to roast a chicken! You have given me the gift of a strong backbone, and the ability to laugh at my own foibles.
You have also taught me how to be an excellent mother, wife, and friend. Because of the wonderful example of your marriage, I picked an equally amazing man to make a life with. Because you have always accepted and loved me for who I am, flaws and all, I have been able to love and accept my children in the same way. They may not have the best cook or housekeeping mom, but they have someone who will stand by them as you have by me.
‘You Are the Glue’
I have always been so impressed by how many people love and call you their friend. You have dear friends who go back 40 plus years, people who have traveled across the country to spend time with you and tell you how much you have meant to them. Your friendship has truly been a gift to so many. This is another attribute I aspire to. You have taught me how to be a good listener, to empathize, to support and appreciate all types of people. I will never be able to fill your shoes, but I hope to keep in close contact with my aunts, uncles, and cousins just as you have always done. I really believe you are the glue that has kept our family so close.
Thank you for my first very creamy and sugary drink of coffee, for my first sip of wine, for all of the big family dinners, and for the nightly 6:30 dinners when we would argue, yell, debate and laugh.
And most of all, thank you for being there for the births of my children. Thank you for loving my children like they are your own.
‘I Will Think of You’
I want you to know that though I will be lonely without you, though I will grieve long and hard and will miss you every moment of every day, I will be okay. I will look for you in the flowers, in the butterflies and in rainbows. If there is a cat who comes through our backyard, I will think of you and hope it is you peeking in my window and checking in on me and my family. Whenever I eat buttered sourdough toast or a good donut, make fried matzoh, or have a good, hot cup of coffee I will think of you. Whenever I hear the giggles of my children or have a good cry I will think of you. Those times when I have a nice, long chat with a close friend, or talk to one of my favorite cousins on the phone, I will think of you. When I walk through the mall, or eat something delicious in a restaurant, or travel somewhere new, I will think of you. When someone annoys me, I will want to tell you, and when something amazing happens I will think about sharing it with you.
‘Listen for Me’
Listen for me, because I will be talking to you and dreaming of you. When the kids do something new and interesting, I will think of you. … When I plant poppies in the spring I will think of you, and imagine you with Pop Pop. When I read a good book, or listen to waves of the ocean rushing in and out, I will think of you. Thank you for all of these gifts you have given me.
‘I Will Go On, And So Will You’
You have been the perfect mother for me, and because of that I will go on, and so will you. I pray that all of these memories we have built together will carry you gently off to your new life. I pray that you will watch us and laugh with us and shake your head at our antics. Please know that you will always be with us, in our hearts, and in our memories.
I will love you always.
A heartfelt letter to someone you love is a precious gift. You don’t have to wait until the end. To whom would you like to write a letter? Will you?
Taking a cue from my friend’s updates, like this one from a couple of weeks ago:
“I’m very thankful to have this last Thanksgiving with my sweet mom. And also thankful that she can no longer burn the Thanksgiving turkey.”
What would you say to or about someone you love in the form of a Facebook post?