My Mom’s Memorial Service

My mom’s (Linda- “Linnie”) memorial service was held on Saturday.  The day was sunny, cool, and a bit breezy.  It was the kind of day my mom would have loved, especially with the Flatiron Mountains of Boulder as the backdrop.  My mom’s older brother, John, passed away in 1952, when he was just seven, and is buried in Boulder.  My mom wanted to be laid to rest with him, and we were very happy we could carry out this last request for her.

 My siblings, Jeff, Mara, Vanessa, and I, were very touched by all the people who attended.  From our bosses and co-workers, to old friends who remembered my mom when we had all been children.  Two of our friends are members of a choir, and they organized some members to sing.  They sang one of my mom’s favorite songs, Somewhere Over the Rainbow

 My cousins, Mary and Emily, along with their dad, Mike, read some quotes, and thoughts.  My aunt, Laura, and friend, Christina, read two touching letters from two of my mom’s friends in Minnesota.  My siblings and I all spoke briefly about my mom, and we found out that was harder and more emotional than we thought it would be.  I gained a new perspective though on my mom from hearing what my brother and sisters, and others remembered about her.   

The choir sang another song while my mom’s three grandchildren, Ryan, Cole, and Maelin, each put a rose on John’s gravestone to symbolize their grandmother’s wish, and also how she will live on in them.   

After everyone had left the service, my siblings and I, watched as the interment took place.  It was simple, and it was final.  

We held a reception afterwards at Laura’s house, and it was so nice to see more friends who couldn’t attend the service.  They laughed, cried, listened, and shared memories with us.  I know I speak for my family, in thanking everyone who has supported us through the loss of our mother.  We appreciate all the condolences, prayers, cards, flowers, plants, notes, and well-wishes. It has made a very difficult time a bit easier. 

I have never lost any one so close to me before.  Like most people, I’ve had some hard situations in life, but those seem to cease in comparison to this.  My favorite time of the day now is the first three seconds I wake up in the morning.  Because I don’t remember for those few seconds she is gone.  

During the time I had with her in Minnesota,  I felt like I was forgetting to tell or ask her something.  I couldn’t shake that feeling, and yesterday I realized what it was that I never got to ask her: my mom lost her mom when she was 16.  I keep finding myself wanting to call my mom and ask her advice- how do you get through this? How do you move on after your mother dies?

For the first time ever in my life, I am going to have to figure this one out without her.  

Below is what I spoke at my mother’s service: 

Thinking about my mom, it is hard to narrow down her life, but I remember her always telling me, “you will never know how much I love you, until you have your own children.”  When I was a little girl and heard this, I didn’t understand.  When I was a teenager and she told me this, I rolled my eyes and said sarcastically, “whatever moth-errr”  When I was in my 20’s, and heard this, I thought it was sweet, and when I was in my 30’s and had my own children, I finally understood the magnitude of this simple sentence I had been told my entire life.  I also realized how true her statement was. 

My mom told me about ten years ago, she had regrets in her life, and wished she could have done some things differently.  But she said in her clear, strong, voice that having us- her children- was the only completely perfect thing she had ever done.  She told me we were the best things to ever happen to her.  Then she added, “you’ll never know how much I love you, until you have your own children.” 

During our last days together, I thought about all the times she stayed up with me when I was sick, or was there when I needed to talk, and all the other millions of things a mother does over a lifetime.  I remember she helped me get my first job- at McDonald’s- I was too shy to call the manager back to check on my application, maybe I knew something she didn’t, but she called for me and I got the job.  She was the first person I called after my sons were born, and the one person I could call at 3AM when I had a screaming, sleepless baby up, for advice.  I’ve watched her incredible strength, and determination and her mistakes and downfalls.   My mother taught me how to live, and how not to live. She wasn’t just my mother- she was my friend too. 

I was able to be with my mother in her final days, hours, and moments, and it was a gift.  My mom was there when I took my first breath, and I was there holding her hand, when she took her last one.  Her life is complete and the circle ends where it began- with us, her children. 

I told my mom in our last conversation, she had been right about her statement, she smiled and she also added “I will love you forever.”  

I believe she will and I have started to tell my own children, Ryan and Cole, “you will never know how much I love you, until you have your own children.”  They look at me and smile now when I say this.  They will roll their eyes at me in a few short years when I tell them this.  They don’t understand now, but one day they will.  That will be the legacy of my mother that lives on in her children and grandchildren.  Love. 

My mom and I- 1998

Comments

  1. So sorry for your loss. I have tears streaming down my face. I lost my father nine years ago and always feel so deeply when others lose one of their parents. It is truly one of the most profound losses a person can endure. Those first few moments in the morning are perfect, and then painful, yes. It does get better. May your early stages of grief be swift. What a wonderful legacy you are carrying on.

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss and that you have to figure out how to go on without her alone. You’ve written a wonderful testament to your mother.

  3. Heather,
    Another touching post. Thank you for sharing these moments with us. It is truly precious.
    I value your words so much. I am so grateful that you had such a close bond with your Mom, one you could leverage as a strength in your life. The closeness makes the end harder to deal with, but I pray the strength derived from it outweighs the pain. I’m confident it does/will.
    I also value your words because, although I feel as you do, about my mother, she does not feel the same way about me. The death of my mother, someone whom I dearly love, but doesn’t even speak to me, is one of the more challenging things I ponder. How will I deal with it? I know I won’t have a chance to say goodbye. She will most likely never give me the opportunity to look her in the eye, hold her hand and say, “thank you for giving me life, and loving me”. I simply don’t know what I’ll do. It will be a very challnging time for me.
    I derive strength from your story and swell with gratitude that you had the opportunity to be with her your whole life, and during those last moments. That is such an amazing gift.
    Love,
    Steve

  4. I’m also in tears here, Heather. Sounds like a beautiful service. Such wise and beautiful – and true words from your mom!

    I’m thinking of you tons as you navigate this new chapter in your life. I have no idea how one gets through it, but I’m sending you strength to help.

  5. Heather – this is a beautiful post. The service was also none like I have ever been to. So open, touching that you all spoke about her… brought up so many things I remembered of her. It was hard not to cry (and laugh) with you all. Your mother was so very right in her statement of “you’ll never know how much I love you until you have your own children”. So simple yet so true – I went home and told Bailey the exact thing. She will never be forgotten. So good to see you all – much love to you!

  6. I’m so sorry about your loss. I lost my mom in December.

    (visiting from SITS)

  7. Heather,
    What you spoke at your mom’s service is just beautiful.
    Wishing you peace and strength and sending you lots of love.

  8. Thank you for sharing this post. My mother died when I was 18 (I’m 37) and I miss her every day. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  9. A Mama's Blog says:

    Thank you all for your comments. I really appreciate them.

    My friend, Julie, (http://www.terminalverbosity.com/) told me on Saturday that losing a parent is like gaining a membership to a club no one wants to be a part of. I am sorry for all the readers who have lost their parents too.

    Heather

  10. HK, what beautiful words you were able to share with everyone. I am so deeply sorry that you have to go through this and wish that I knew what else to say or do to help you. I am sending you lots of love and light with the hope that it might make it even a teensy bit easier. I love you friend.

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