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A Seven Letter Word for Truth

How losing my mom helped me finally find my voice.

Dear Mom,
The last morning that we woke up together was April 8th, 2014. You had always told us that when life was not normal to try and do normal things. I had no idea what that sentence meant… because I didn’t even digest how completely unnatural our life was during the time while you were dying. On this morning, you were in your bedroom, in your favorite spot where you would enjoy the crossword puzzle and a 30 minute nap every day. It was 11:04AM and you were just about to take another nap. This one for way longer than a half hour. I was glad I was sitting next to you with my sisters and that you waited until Steve got back from the dump to take your last breath. The biggest thing that seemed completely abnormal on that oh-so-grey and unnatural day was how the sun came out during your final moment. A beam of light passed right through the room as you passed over. I knew it was a sign from something higher. It made me believe in something. But when that grey came back in… that was all I could focus on. Not the light… but the darkness. I heard that death is difficult at best. I miss you. I miss writing to you. So here are seven letters from the same day on different years. Beginning with the day when you died… and one from the day I died, too.
Wholeheartedly,
Holly

Dear Mom,
It’s the one year anniversary of your passing. April 8th, 2015. This year was a freaking nightmare at best. I know that I drowned my self in busy-ness and Belvedere over the past 300 or so days… I can’t think about you being gone and this year of firsts is like a constant slap in the face. Not hearing your voice sing me happy birthday on June 24th may have been one of the hardest annual moments that never came. But it was also so difficult to change my emergency contact from your name to dads. Not because I don’t think he’d be there if someone called… it’s just that for the first time, I had to start erasing your name. I had to delete it from my phone on my favorites. It was just too painful to see you at the top and know that you wouldn’t pick up if I called. I had to erase your name from my passport, because I did end up traveling again and went back to Uruguay with boyfriend last month. But if anything bad was to happen to me… I had to take your name out of that important document, for it’s pretty obvious that you can’t have a dead person be the person who’s called if you died, too. I even had to take everything out of your room with my sisters and throw out your clothes and your license. “Keep the memories, lose the things,” my bright therapist had advised me. But there is one thing that I can’t throw out that keeps punching me in the gut time and time again. My middle name. Your name. Holly Ruth Finigan. Man, is it hard to embody that harsh truth that your name is always here… even though you are not. I really miss you. One last thing… Where are you and can you come save me? Please write back.
Wholeheartedly,
Holly

Dear Mom,
Here we are … Two Years Forward, One Looks Back. It’s April 8th, 2016, and boyfriend and I took a road trip of California and are currently in LA. We went all the way up the Pacific Coast Highway… From Venice to Santa Barbara to Monterey and even to the Redwood Forest … it wasn’t until we got to those great trees that I realized I wanted to take this grand trip because it was also the last trip that you had experienced. The last time that you went on a big journey was a road trip of the States that you and Steve had taken in 2013. I remember you loved Big Sur then and I felt like you were there with me this time. I know that you said right before you died that your favorite journey was the one that you were about to embark… but I still feel like I’m looking for you and hope that you’re just going to magically appear one day. You’ll show up, hold my hand and tell me that this was all a bad dream. That you never left. That you just moved to Carmel and forgot to give me your address. Mom… I can’t face the truth yet. I think I’ll just keep making myself so busy so I won’t have to feel your loss. Wish you were here.
Wholeheartedly,
Holly

Dear Mom,
Ahoy from the most beautiful beach. It’s April 8th, 2017, and I am in the Turks and Caicos at one of the most spectacular properties I have ever stayed at. This place, as you would say, is the cats ass. I have been fortunate enough to be able to market vacations and real estate together in my blACKbook and have arrived to the white sand shores and in the turquoise blue waters of this Caribbean isle of dreams. The beaches remind me so much of Eleuthera. Your happy place. Where we were supposed to go to right before you got real sick in January of 2014. I hope you know that we spread your ashes in the waters of Ten Bay like you wanted. It was on our first Mother’s Day without you when we did that and now three years later, here I am and I feel like you’re in these waters, too. I know because I just wrote The Mother of all tRuths and I’m started to realize that you, RUTH, are now my tRuth. I had to start seeing you differently. You haven’t gone anywhere. In fact, I think you are very much here with me, especially on this day … It was a gift to be able to have you for thirty years, Mom. It is a gift to know what grief truly feels like. I am healing … but still… to be honest, I am a bit lost. Hey, if I can’t be honest with you then who can I tell that to?! Mom, it’s still hard. Even in the most beautiful of places, grief comes in like a tsunami wave over me and almost drowns me from the fact that we aren’t together anymore. The writing helps. Sometimes a cocktail numbs it. (Often a good laugh does it, too.) But today… I just wish you could be walking this beach and telling me it’s all going to be alright and that it’s all going to work out. I mean … I know it always does. It just made it more real when you said it.
Wholeheartedly,
Holly

Dear Mom,
Guess where we are today on April 8th, 2018? Around the globe… in Bali! Yes, it’s four years past the day of your passing and I have taken a solo healing journey around the world, because guess what else? I did like you said, and finally took control of my health and had my heart surgery three months ago exactly on January 8th! Mom, that was an insane process, but hot damn am I glad it’s over. I thought losing you was the hardest feeling… turns out waking up with a tube down my throat, one out of my neck, two in my lungs, a catheter and a broken chest bone is actually a bit tougher of a physical experience. But I got through it… and now I feel better than ever. I think I’m a ten. I’m living my best life. I think I’ve healed on all levels. I see you everywhere. You are this yellow butterfly and you show up when I need you. It’s these quiet reminders of what it means for me to live with my whole heart again. I actually wrote us something. It’s called The University of Broken Hearts… these past four years have felt like a college that I got accepted to, yet didn’t apply to, and also didn’t know how to drop out of. I’ve learned a lot out here. I’m starting to realize that I’ve been so fixated on your death over the past four years that I’m forgetting to live. And every April 8th, I try to honor you… I try my best to write something that would make you proud. You told me in that letter that you were proud of me… and that your favorite definition of proud was “to have proper self respect.” Oh, but Mom… with all this deep healing… I am beginning to understand that I’m still heartbroken. I need to take us back to another April night. One where you and I were both alive for the full day. The April 8th where a piece of me died. But I didn’t tell you about. Until now. Wholeheartedly, Holly

Dear Mom,
I know you think I am flying to Tulum today. It’s April 8th, 2013 and I have just spent the weekend in Miami celebrating my 30th birthday a few months early with a couple of friends. I know that you told me that Miami with the girls was fine by you, but you weren’t psyched about me heading to Mexico by myself. You know I’m pretty independent, so after a little convincing, you said that you were okay with it. That you knew that I was smart and capable and would make good decisions and take care of myself. Well… Mom, I just had a panic attack in the back of a cab on the way to the Miami airport. I don’t know how to tell you this so I’m not going to. I’m going to cancel my plane ticket to Cancun and head to Fort Lauderdale and fly direct to Boston. Then I am going to come home to Vermont and spend the week with you. I’m telling everyone else I’m canceling this trip because of you and your eleven year battle with cancer. “You can use me,” you always said to us when we needed an excuse to get out of something. I could use your Leiomyosarcoma as a cover up for the fact that I didn’t want to deal with something. Instead of using the truth… I am going to use you, Ruth. See Mom, something really bad happened to me on Thursday night down here. I was raped and I don’t know how to tell anyone about it. I didn’t say anything to the girls I was with because I didn’t want to bother them with my mistakes and because I am so ashamed at how drunk I had apparently gotten that night. I didn’t even call the other people I was with at this club because I did not know what the name of the guy was that raped me or how I got to his apartment in the first place. All I knew is the next morning, when I awoke and looked at him, I had never felt more disgust for any other human in my life as I raced to find my clothes and bolted out his door. Mom… I didn’t know how to deal with it… so I used you. I said that I wanted to come home and be with you because of your cancer. But I had a sickness as well… it was called not telling the truth. It was ingrained in me as a kid when adults taught me that secrets were accepted. Mom… I came home that week and pretended that everything was okay. Truth be told, a part of me died during this weekend in Miami. Not even you could heal that. But how was I to deal with that pain, and the truth of the matter, with the fact that every day from here on forward would be the last year I got to spend with you? I must have known that we were on some sort of countdown. That you were on your final trip around the sun. And that day, going home to you on April 8th, 2013… I was losing you and myself. I had no idea it would take another five years to find you… and six to find me.
Wholeheartedly,
Holly


Dear Mom,
Please don’t let that last letter scare you. Promise. Everything is alright and it all worked out. Actually, it’s better. Today is April 8th, 2019, and today is the best day of my life. I finally know what that seven letter word for truth is… it’s FREEDOM. There’s this liberation from all my old stories lately… and I wrote that book that we always talked about! I went back to Bali two more times and I learned about higher consciousness, meditation and how to heal better instead of feel better. I’ve been around so many incredible people, Mom… It’s like I graduated from the University of Broken Hearts and then did a masters in healing. So many beautiful souls have taught me so many amazing things… Like my teacher Punnu who taught me how if you want to heal the relationships in your life, you have to first heal the relationship with your parents. Did you know Mom, that if you have issues with your mother, they say you can have issues with connectivity, relationships and health? And if you have issues with your father, they say you can have issues with your career, your self worth and your finances? And that because love is so strong, you can heal these relationships with your parents at any stage and any age?! That’s what Punnu and his Spiritual Awakening Course gifted me. And Mom, did you know there is something called GNOSIS out there? It’s the meaning to know something through self experience. So as my teacher Mickaela taught… to gno is to know not just because you learned it.. but because you lived it. So Mom… this I gno is true… everything is connected and life and death happens for you, not to you. I gno that you are everywhere … and when I truly needed you back in 2013, you were there without asking any questions … And when I need you any day, all I have to do is search in nature for a sweet reminder. You pop up in the most unexpected ways. Thank you for helping me see things with this new lens. Thank you for helping me to finally see myself clearly. I know… I know… you’ll say that it was all me. That I did the work. But Mom… you brought me here. How bout all the work that that took?! Thank you for birthing me in to this extraordinary world and then being on earth with me for three decades after. Thank you for the constant reminder that you’re always within me… like Ruth, my middle name. Mom, I am just so grateful. See, the truth is gno-ing death was the best thing that ever happened for me. It woke me up. And once you’re awake, Mom… every day is a magic show. I still miss holding your hand… but I gno you’re always here… for now I hold you in my heart.
Wholeheartedly,
Holly


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