My mom died a month ago.
Ten months ago I became a mom.
I have a lot to be thankful for.
When I was five I broke my arm falling off some playground equipment. I remember holding my arm, hand dangling useless from the wrist, as mom scooped me up and told dad, “Carla, Robin, and April are at the playground. I put the salad on the picnic table. Valerie broke her arm so I’m taking her to the hospital.”
Mom would’ve made a great EMT. She was not excitable.
At the hospital, the doc smiled at me as he pulled my mom aside and whispered to her. Mom looked straight at him and replied loudly enough that I could hear, “No, no, she won’t need any of that. She’s stronger than she looks.”
The doc came back and I began to get nervous. He looked nervous. “For your arm to get better I’m going to have to put the bones back in the right place. It’s going to be uncomfortable.” I stared at him. “I mean, it’s really going to hurt.” I then began chanting “Can’t hurt me, can’t hurt me” and continued to recite my newfound mantra for fifteen minutes as he set and cast the break.
I do not remember the pain of breaking my arm or of it being set. I do not remember being afraid. I remember a whole day with mom to myself.
I am thankful that mom taught me sometimes it hurts and you just deal with it. I’m thankful she taught me to love reading, how to eat Smarties the “right” way, how to ski, how to sing “Chicken Lips” and “My Father’s Whiskers,” how to make cherry chip bars, how to make your six-year-old duet partner feel like a prodigy, how to sew, how to learn, how to fold laundry…
I’m thankful she taught me how to love a daughter.
These past 10 months I’ve encountered many of the things people say about parenthood that can’t be fully understand until you are one. “Parent-love for a child is deep and unique”. I would give my arm, my kidney, my life for Hannah. “It’s hard but worth it.” Like those 3:00 AM awakenings that are always followed by the best snuggles.
There have been lessons I wasn’t expecting. “Don’t go anywhere without a spit-up cloth.” “Don’t let your child lean too close to the person in the pew in front of you” (same reason). “Be proactive about warning bystanders that the growling is just a sign of affection.” And I know there will be more unexpected lessons as we go to Kenya.
I am thankful for all my daughter is teaching me.
But today I am most thankful for the last gift mom gave me.
Mom died on Good Friday. On Tuesday, my sisters and I had our last good conversations with her before she began sleeping more and became too weak to be conversant when she was awake.
But then on Thursday afternoon my mom unexpectedly woke up. She and I had our final conversation. We talked and prayed about the most important things. But before we prayed mom wanted me to know that everything was going to be ok. This was her gift to me.
I was sitting at her bedside when she suddenly sat up and asked, “How are you?” Then she asked “Is Nancy still here?” I told her Clark’s mom had visited the day before and was gone now. Then mom took my hand, laid back, and said “I’m so glad you have her.”
Nancy, I am so glad I have you.
Happy Mother’s Day.