Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dear Mom,


Today is Mother's Day. It has been almost 4 months, but it's still hard for me to grasp. You are on my mind constantly as try to carry on, going through the motions of daily life. Hardly a day goes by that I don't cry, my heart aching from missing you so very much. Of course all of us miss you, your dear friends, family and grandkids. Last night while I was trying to get Lily to bed, she called you on an invisible phone she held tight to her ear. She told you about the fun things she did while camping. She said she missed you and asked you if you were happy. I think she may be having the hardest time of all of us, grasping the fact that you are gone. She talks about you all the time and often out of the blue comes up with a question. A common time for her to do this is on long quiet walks on the trail with the dogs. After walking in silence for awhile she will turn to me and say "Mommy, does Gamma's leg hurt?" referring to the pain you experienced in your leg where the cancer was attacking in the days before you passed. I worry if it was a mistake to have her spend so much time with you in the last days, but my heart tells me it was not. I believe her being there brought you joy and of course she loved spending time with you, even in the end when you were unable to speak. I remember how sweetly she pretended to put nail polish on your fingers even when you could no longer grasp her hand. I do my best to remind her that you cannot feel pain anymore and not to worry. This question is almost always followed by the question "Is Gamma happy?". This is such a hard question to answer. I know how much you didn't want to leave us. How you fought so hard against the awful disease, enduring the often radical chemo appointments almost constantly for 2 years just to try and prolong the limited time you knew you had with us.

 Two years ago, when we were told that your cancer was terminal, we all mourned. We knew what we were facing and it was just such a hard thing for all of us to take. We felt as though giant boulders were placed on our chests and we could not breath. In your usual style, you would not let this sadness go on for long. You quickly told us that there was nothing to gain my sitting around being depressed about the cards you were dealt. You set your sights on living life and trying as hard as possible to think about happier things, like spending time with your grandkids and riding your horse. This was the reason that you asked me not to write about your diagnosis on the blog. You said you already had to live with it, you didn't want to be reminded of it by reading about it on the blog. You also said you wanted people to think of you as "regular old Mardee, not poor Mardee with cancer". I could understand this, although it was hard to continue blogging, leaving so much of the story of what was going on in our lives unspoken.

 Looking back, I am so very thankful that you did fight as hard as you did. I am grateful that in those 2 short years your granddaughter got to know and love her "Gamma". Visits with you were some of the biggest highlights of her life. She just glowed when she was around you. You were a big kid yourself, and kids just naturally gravitated to you. These qualities were part of what made you such a special mom, as well. You provided Zack and me with the most wonderful childhood we could ever imagine. We had all the love and fun a kid could ever ask for. You were not only our mom, but our amazing teacher as well, homeschooling us all the way up until college. You were so proud of all we accomplished, but of course it was just a reflection of what you instilled in us.

 I would like to try and list all of the things that made you such a special individual. I realized though, that I could write for years and never really express how wonderful and selfless you really were. One of the most incredible things I have ever experienced was your memorial. All of your friends and family coming out in a terrible ice storm to celebrate the life of one extraordinary woman. So many people stood up to express the ways in which you touched their lives, often changing their way of thinking or helping to see something in a new light. The night was such a beautiful tribute to your spirit, you would have absolutely loved it. I felt guilty getting to see all of the old friends that I know you would have loved to have seen. It was the kind of thing you would have loved. Of course it was sad, but it was also uplifting, hearing all of the funny and sweet stories that people told about you.

 Some time after the memorial, I received a beautiful letter from a friend of mine who attended. I think it is a beautiful tribute to the kind of person you were. Below is an excerpt from that letter:

 "I only met your mom maybe twice, but I remember thinking to myself when we met her the first time, "What a nice lady!". After attending the memorial service I think "nice lady" is quite an understatement. I was amazed by how much good one person could do in their lifetime. I was amazed by how many people's (and animals') lives she had touched in such a positive way. I was amazed by how many true, devoted, caring friendships she had developed in her lifetime. I keep saying "I" but I speak for my husband, too. We both looked at each other many times through the service and just said, "Wow!". And we both cried our eyes out.

 I was extremely moved by your mom's passion and drive for the things that were important to her. Her involvement with animal rescue, breastfeeding mothers, and individuals with special needs though her social work career is truly inspiring. Most people go through their lives not really making a difference in the world in any way at all. Some people have a big impact in one very specific area of need. Your mom made a huge impact on MULTIPLE intense areas of need, which was clearly evidenced by the number of people at the service and the amount of love one could feel in the air.

 How is that possible? How is it that one person could do so much? I think the only way to explain this is by saying that some people are just born that way. There are just some special people that grace this earth for a short period of time that somehow, for some reason, from the deepest depths of their soul are just meant to be good people and do good in the world for others to see. I realize this might sound a bit extreme or dramatic, but I was truly inspired by your mom's life. It made me think really hard about the way I want to live my life. It made me think about how I want others to think of me. It made me think about how I have so much passion for some causes, but somehow can't seem to make the time to make a different win a big way like I want to. It made me think about the type of mom I want to be. It made me think about A LOT of things, which is really freaky because I did not go to the memorial service to have a life-changing experience. We just wanted to show some friends our love an support, but came home with a lot more than that."

 I love this letter so much because it gives me it gives me a bit of peace. Peace in knowing that your mission in life will live on and even though you are gone, you are continuing to inspire others to make the world a better place. In your short life, you made such a huge impact. The world is so much better for having had you in it.

 I wish so badly that I had Lily's magical phone through which I could still call you and hear your sweet voice. There are so many things I want to ask you. I want us to share the joys and frustrations of life, just like we always did. I want to hear you get angry about corrupt politicians and have you tell me a funny story about trick you just taught your horse. I want to hear your laugh as I tell you about Lily's latest antics.

 I love you Mom and will miss you always.

Love Brook

   IMG_6252 A

slideshow my brother created for for the memorial:

 Video of my mom with my niece from Christmas, Dec. 2009


Kristin said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mother. Clearly, she was a very special human being. I am so sorry for your loss.

Zack said...

This is a nice tribute to Mom.

It's so hard dealing with her being gone. All we can do is try to carry on her spirit of fun and caring for others.

Love you Mom...

bethechange21 said...

what a beautiful post. I lost my mom 28 years ago to cancer - far before my daughter was born - I love all those shots of her with her grandchildren and that Lily has some memories of her. This filled my heart with love; memories are precious.

me said...

Hard to read through the tears. A wonderful person, and she live on through you and then through Lily.

Jennifer said...

I have been thinking of you and another dear friend who lost her mother just 2 weeks ago, on this first Mother's Day since their passing. Both your mom and her's were AMAZING human beings and both have truly inspired me. I wish you both comfort and peace today knowing that you made your mom so proud. I too was deeply moved by the memorial service and was came out even more amazed at what a wonderful person Mardee was. Her memorial was one of those rare moments where people put aside everything and were truly present and love abounded. Our love you and your wonderful family.

Sherry said...

Such a beautiful Mothers Day tribute Brook. It's been 25 years, and I still miss my mom, wish I could hear her voice...but I do talk to her whenever the mood strikes me and I know in my heart she is listening...if I "listen" really careful, I can hear her talking to me...of course its in my heart, but that's where she lives. I didn't know your mother, but I know she had to be wonderful because she has an awesome daughter named Brook. Just by things you posts and pictures, I know what kind of childhood you are continuing your mom's legacy. Lots of Hugs to you.

Abby Henkel said...

Your mom was an amazing person and she raised an amazing family. Your post made me cry just thinking about the loss that you must feel. On a happy note, I'll never forget all the bonfires, barn games, and Christmas tree adventures I had at your awesome farm house.

love from Abby Henkel

Tonia said...

Very Touching Brook! Sending Hugs and my Love!!

Lindsey said...

I've been thinking about you today. I hope you find peace in knowing that you are the exact kind of awesome mom to Lily! Hugs to you!

Lisa T. said...

Brook, I was bawling, BAWLING before I read one word. I know how hard this was for you to write, how long you waited. I was really thinking about you this mothers day. I know you are sad and longing for her so much. (Henry just drew me a picture and asked me if I could "calm down now.") She had so much love. Lily will always have that with in her.
Big hugs, friend
Lisa T.

Jen S said...

A very lovely post about your mom. She truly lived and loved everything and thing around her. Reminds me of my aunt whom passed away from cancer 6 years ago. People still approach me with stories of her kindness and unselfishness. Hugs to you.

camiandseth said...

Wonderful Brook! I too wish I had one of Lily's phones. :)

Russ Andes said...

This is beautiful, Brook! By your words and the other comments here, I can tell your mom was clearly someone special. I'm glad your daughter was able to spend time with her--she'll have those memories with her forever, and if they start to fade she'll have the pictures to remind her.

Doug said...

Brook, what a wonderful tribute to your mom. The two of you were so much closer than most of the people I know who grow up and leave their parents behind. I was very moved by your memories and descriptions of her life.

We will hold you all in the Light.

Cindy Philhower said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Mom. I didn't know her, but from what you have written I feel like I did. My heart goes out to you and I'm holding you in my prayers. Nothing can erase the beautiful memories you have.

Cathy said...

Even after 28 years, Mother's Day without my Mother is a sad day. I know how hard that first Mother's Day is. It is never the same. Lily is such a lucky girl to have you as her MOM! Life is a gift so share your love with your family and know your Mother is proud of the Mom you are!

Kate Giovinco Photography said...

Beautiful Brook. Wow do you look like your mom and Lily and her cousins look a lot alike as well. I am not sure if you got my text yesterday but I thought of you a lot. Sending hugs your way.