Dear Mom

young woman with dark brown hair wearing jean shorts and a black t-shirt with circuit boards printed on it with her arms around the shoulders of an smiling older woman with dark brown hair in a bun, wearing a pink sport coat over a black top and skirt. they are clearly mother-daughter relation sharing a similar smile and clear blue eyes. they’re standing in a retail computer store circa 1995

Dear Mom,

It’s been seven years since you left us. It’s hard to fathom but the pain reminds me it’s still real. I haven’t “gotten over” the loss or moved on. I’ve simply adjusted to the pain that comes with knowing there are no more hugs, no more laughs, and no more calls.

Granted, things between us were never easy. I was (am) rebellious and you had visions for me that I could never fulfill. But we found a path to build a relationship. You were always interested in what I was doing, and wanted to be involved.

I’m not sure you’d follow me where I am now. You were so sensitive about being on boats, even the ferries between islands in the Outer Banks. But I know you would’ve put on a brave face and come to see the boat.

I also experience relief. Relief that you aren’t in pain anymore, that you won’t worry about me, and that I don’t have to watch you die slowly of cancer or dementia. I’m glad I don’t have to decide whether to put you in a nursing home or go through hospice with you. Your end was quick, and for that I’m grateful, even if it did rip my guts out.

Our relationship was complicated. And I didn’t understand the knowledge and context you had until after you were gone. And maybe that’s the biggest lesson you could help me learn. It was only after your death (along with Dan’s and Emilia’s at the same time) that I began to expand my horizon beyond being a good worker/wife/friend and pushing myself into a more fully authentic life lived primarily for me.

Since you died, I grew into a Community Leader (and burned out on it–I’ll be back). I put down substances which I mistook for adult coping mechanisms. I sought (and continue my seeking) definition of an authentic life for me instead of for others. I took bold steps away from lucrative offers (Golden Handcuffs, etc.) and towards my heart’s desires.

I’m not sure it’s something you ever taught me explicitly, but I’m learning how to follow my heart. It comes with pain from falling, failing, and flailing. It also comes with the glory of triumph and growth. And I am more resilient as a result.

I wish I could share this part of my life with you. I have so many questions about the later phases of womanhood, of your experiences in these phases of life, and how I could support you as we both grow older. But I don’t get that opportunity.

So here I am, remembering you and the pain and the love and the relief. I love you dearly. I miss you wholeheartedly. I am so glad you’re not suffering anymore.


your darling daughter.