For Mom

August 18, 2023

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the single worst day of my life – the day we had to say goodbye to my mom.

I’ve really struggled over the past year with not only her loss, but also with how to express it in words. I’ve tried multiple times to express just what she meant to not only me, but to my family, and to those who knew her. And I guess that really says it all in terms of what a presence she was in the world. It’s nearly impossible so express just how important she was – just how loving, caring, wise, funny, silly, and most definitely weird (I thank her the most for that one) she was. All of those things have made me the man I am today – for better or for worse (I’d like to think for the better).

I’m the oldest of four boys. That’s sometimes a strange place to be in the hierarchy. I had to experience life first along with two young parents who had never done this before. In many ways we were all learning at the same time. For two rookie parents they did an incredible job. My mom really ran the household. She cooked the meals (often using food she and my dad had grown in their garden), kept a ready supply of homemade/canned fruits and veggies, helped us with our homework, put bandages on our boo boos, prayed with us at bedtime, read to us, helped us with homework, showed up for our band concerts/choir concerts/sporting events/science fairs/art shows, and was always there to listen. And that was a constant even as we got older. To the end I’d still get text messages from her about a podcast episode of mine she’d listened to and about how much she enjoyed the conversation.

As we all started having children of our own – she easily transitioned into rockstar grandma. She loved her grandkids more than anything. I’m so thankful she was able to retire a little early so she could spend time with them. The last few years it seemed like she was rarely ever home. She was always traveling either to Indianapolis or Columbus to spend time with her grandkids. My daughter got to have a relationship with her in a way I never did with my grandparents and I’m so grateful for that.

Mom was the rock of the family – the glue that held everything together. She insisted and ensured that as a family (not matter how large we had become) that we all got together at least a couple times a year. She was also one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known. She was always helping with a meal or the first one to jump up and help with a fussy baby. She loved all of it – even the difficult stuff.

I miss her so much. My brother Andy said it best at the funeral when he said that it feels like there’s a massive hole that will never be filled. It’s true. It feels like a massive part of my life is just missing and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.

There are days that I’m ok – where I can look back and smile at the memories I had with her. There are other days when I’m sad and frustrated that I can’t talk to her and that my daughter who was only 8 when we lost her can’t continue to have that special relationship with her.

It all happened so quickly. One day she was here and I was talking to her, and the next she was gone. We barely had time to process the fact that she had cancer and before we knew it the cancer had stolen her away from us. I’m grateful that she didn’t have to suffer, but I can’t help but feel like we were robbed of so many more good years with her. I wonder if secretly she knew how bad it was. Her famous saying was always, “It’s fine.” Even after we found out about the cancer she put on a brave face and to a large extent made it seem like no big deal. I wonder if she really knew but didn’t want us to worry. Mom was tough. She did give birth to all four of us sans drugs so that should tell you something. But ultimately the cancer and the subsequent surgery were just too much for her body to handle.

I cannot believe it’s been a year since we said goodbye. Time can be cruel and it truly waits for no one, but I try to keep her memory alive through the stories I share, the recipes from the meals she made, and the love she taught us how to give so freely. I just hope she’s still out there somewhere – that some divine creator has her in its care and that I’ll see her again one day. And I just hope she’s still proud of me.

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