When I learned very shortly before her death — that my mother had terminal lung cancer — this was The Thing I latched on to and pre-grieved. The loss of Future Shared Moments.
I was twelve years old.
But even at that young age — I understood Death.
The loss of my mother’s physical presence was and remains a devastating event in My Life. A something I grew around and at times scarred down to. But more than anything — at that moment — I knew I was done making memories of her.
She was lying in an ICU with pneumonia and the beginning of the congestive heart failure which would end her life in just seven short days.
We would never bake pumpkin pies together again during the holidays.
There would be no more marathon shopping trips, complete with off-key sing-alongs all the way home.
I would never be on the receiving end of The Look at mass again or hear her voice firmly punctuate the end of a sentence with the word, “Capisce?!”
No more arms to hug me, no more kisses good night, no more comfort in the face of All. The. Things I was going to have to face.
No more memories to keep.
I had all I was allotted. This was going to have to do. So in those pre-grieving of the grieving days, I sifted through my mind for all the memories I could find. I took them gently out and set them in velvet-lined boxes as the precious treasures they were. I wrapped each one with all the love I could muster and I kept them in the safest corner of my heart I could find. I refused to let anyone take them from me.
And I survived those Goddess-Awful days which followed. The days when the Real Grieving started. The days when I lost large blocks of time and kept no memories at all because the pain washed everything else away.
Later. Much, much later — I found I could hold the memory boxes and find comfort in them. I could hear my mother’s voice, smell her scent, feel her warmth if I just let myself drift away into my memory.
When I had my own daughters, we opened the boxes together. I would tell them stories about my childhood with my mother. One of my mother’s Christmas cookie recipes is a favorite of my older daughter AND now my middle granddaughter. My sisters always make my mother’s pumpkin pie. My younger daughter has my mother’s eyes. And punctuates her sentences with the word, “Capisce?!”
So I was wrong — you see? Back then — when I was twelve. I thought there would be no more memories with my mother. But as I lived and shared my memories of her — they grew and seeded and made more memories with my daughters, my granddaughters, and my sister.
Life goes on — Love goes on.
Dedicated with love — to all the motherless daughters. ❤