Remember that time when you barged into my room at 2AM when I was twelve? Let me take you back… I was in seventh grade and had just become friends with a girl named Ceileigh and she was having her first sleepover at our house. That night, she and I ate enough Sour Patch Kids to kill a gorilla and we were on a sugar high, roaring laughing about everything and nothing like new friends do. My room wasn’t anywhere near yours in our house, but apparently we shook you… because when you opened my door in your nightgown and haphazardly tied silk robe, you busted in like a bat out of hell, “What is going on down here!?” you yelled. “You woke me out of a dead sleep!” Of course, for Ceieligh and I, are first instinct was to laugh. We woke YOU out of a DEAD sleep? We were having so much fun that we could literally wake the dead?! Laughing seemed inappropriate so we just haphazardly apologized and went back to telling stories in hushed tones under my covers. As you know, Ceileigh would turn out to become my best friend. We would grow up together in all ways, shapes and forms.
But it wasn’t all fun and games, Mom. Ceileigh and I would together navigate life’s harshest lesson called death. Her mom would die in July of 2011 and then you would die in April of 2014. Then we really knew what it felt like, when we couldn’t wake our moms out of a dead sleep. No matter how hard we laughed, yelled and cried.
See Mom, life is so strange because over the past five years, you shook me awake. And you weren’t even living on earth while you did it. Your death taught me the fragility of life and how priceless our relationship with our mother is. You showed me how much meaning the little things have… like the sound of your voice singing me happy birthday on my voicemail… your handwriting and sage advice that I used to get from random cards in the mail that I’d ignore… your hugs and the way you would just hold my hand… all those memories are what I now hold dear. For when you were alive, I wish I had realized it was simply about being with you. It wasn’t until you were gone that I learned the school of hard knocks lesson that presence is the ultimate present.
Mom, your death was a gift to me and one that I refused to open for years. But once I got over my year of firsts, and got back on that Merry-Go-Round called life, I eventually opened my eyes… and woke up. Three years later, I changed my life by changing my sight. I started to see how you never died, and I stopped telling myself the same sad story about your cancer and how lost I was and how scary death is. I began to realize your “passing” was all an awakening in the form of an ending that was truly a beginning. For everything I thought was happening TO ME was happening FOR ME… including your departure from being here to being everywhere.
So on this Mother’s Day, Mom, I’m done being sad about this day and want to thank you for the gift of my life and for the gift of your death. And how funny is it, that when Ceileigh and I woke you out of that slumber in 1995, you were 35 years old… because now I’m 35 and now I see it was ultimately our Moms, who woke us out of that dead sleep …
…so we could begin to live with our eyes wide open.