This year, though, I have been thinking more about my own mother. You see, she doesn't realize it but this year I received the most precious gift from her. Let me go back...
The one year anniversary of Emma's death was coming up and I was having a terrible time with it. I have a hard time expressing any sort of weakness or need to others but I had broken down one time while talking to my mom on the phone and shared with her that I was so afraid that I was forgetting Emma. I would close my eyes and try to see her face or hear her laugh or cry and there was nothing. The one year anniversary marked the passing of time since I had held her and I could not stand that. I didn't want it to come.
I was also replaying the last week of her life over and over in my head wondering if there was anything I could have done to stop her from dying. What if I had called the dr. sooner? Why didn't we see how sick she was? Why did I leave the hospital when I did and I wasn't there to say goodbye? So many questions with no answers and I was losing my mind with the wondering and the sadness and the fear.
And then one day a couple of weeks after that phone call, I went to get the mail and there was an envelope from my mom. I didn't think anything of it because I figured it was probably the cell phone payment since we share a plan. I talk to my mom on the phone a lot and now we facebook but we rarely send a letter except Birthday cards and such. When I opened up the envelope, though, there was a letter and I stopped in my tracks and started reading it right there by the mailbox.
And in that letter was the most wonderful gift my mom has ever, ever given me. You see, my mom wrote me a whole page of memories of my Emma. She wrote about the times in the hospital and how Emma laughed when we banged the pots and pans together and all of the places we took her. She even wrote about the time Emma was so sick on the Sunday of her dedication and I was freaking out. So my mom went down to the kitchen and got the crisco out and my dad annointed Emma and prayed for her. She went to church with a little grease spot on her forehead but we made it through the service! All of these memories came rushing back to me and I stood by the mailbox with tears running down my cheeks, but a smile on my lips. What sweet memories!
But that wasn't the best part of the letter. The best part was at the end when she said this:
"You could have done nothing else, you did it all! You were the best mother Emma could ever have. Now Emma is with her Heavenly Father looking down on her earthly mother and thanking you for all the care and things you did for her. I just want you to know how proud I am of you and how much you are loved. When I think of Emma now, I see her long blond hair and pretty eyes. She is in a field of white daisies with her arms stretched out. There are butterflies sitting on her arms and she is singing a song to you. Telling you thank you for loving her and for the nine years she got to spend with you."
Those words were like medicine for my hurting heart. I had been questioning myself for a year. Wondering if I could have done more. Wondering if I had made Emma's life a happy one. Beating myself up for all the things I didn't do. And my mother, who I love and look up to, was proud of me. She believed I had done everything I could. She reminded me of all of the fun and not so fun times we had with Emma. It was a gift that meant so much to me. I was able to let go of the guilt and focus on those sweet, precious memories.
I put that letter in my Bible and since I am always switching Bibles that one got put on a shelf and I forgot the letter was there. When we were packing to move last month I opened that Bible and out fell that letter. I had forgotten about it and as I read it I was able to receive that special gift all over again. Finding it was a special Mother's Day gift this year!
And now I want to give the same gift to my mom. She is not perfect but she has always been there to support me and love me when I needed her the most.
I remember the time when I was about four and while all my older siblings were at school she got one of my hidden Christmas presents out and we sat on the floor and played with it for hours.
I remember all the dentist appointments when she would let me miss the whole day of school and we would go to lunch and shopping.
I remember many birthdays when my mom would take me to Whitehall Camp, which she hated, and would cook me a turkey dinner complete with homemade noodles because it was my favorite meal. Our little cabin would be so hot we could hardly breathe but she did it anyway!
I remember taking walks and holding hands without saying a word.
I remember when my parents dropped me off at college and I felt lost and alone and then I found out the freshmen had to take a swim test and I didn't even own a bathing suit! When my parents got home the phone was ringing and my mom said, "That's Stacey.". And it was. She told me to borrow a bathing suit and I would pass the test fine. And I did.
I remember so many weekends in college where she would drive up on Friday to pick up my dirty clothes and bring them back clean on Sunday along with bags of food!
I remember when I made a really bad choice and was afraid to let anyone know I needed help and even through a phone she heard my pain and said, "Do you want to come home?" And she came and got me. No questions asked.
I remember my wedding day when I panicked and didn't think I could leave home forever! She took me by the shoulders and said, "Go get in that car. Dean loves you and he is waiting for you." So, I did and I'm glad I did.
I remember that day when Emma was so sick and I was freaking out and she took my face in her hands and told me that I could do it. That I was strong enough. That Emma needed me. And to go get dressed. So, I did.
She called me so many times after Emma died and I didn't answer the phone because I couldn't open my mouth without crying, but she kept calling.
Even now, as we have struggled with this decision to move she has said exactly what I needed to hear. Affirming our decision. She knows me and who I am and what I need and she knew I needed to go home. And she let me. No guilt trips for leaving her.
Mom, you did it all! There is nothing else you could have done for me. I am so thankful that you are my mom and I am so proud of you. I love you.
Happy Mother's Day!!