To my mother:
It’s been 7 years. It’s hard to believe that it has been that long, and that it has only been that long all at the same time. Sometimes I remember things as clearly as if they were yesterday, and sometimes I have trouble remembering even the simplest things at all. But today, my now annual day of reflection, I feel grateful. Grateful for gifts you have given me. It’s impossible to list them all, but I felt compelled to list a few:
I’m grateful you taught me to appreciate the moments. I’ll never forget our walks in the woods, starting with me as a little kid up to a few weeks before you died, and even our last walk about a week before you died. There wasn’t ever a walk where you didn’t stop to appreciate something, the turtles in the water, smells of fall, the sounds of singing birds, the sun on your face. I’ve never met someone who appreciated the ocean and the beach like you. Or someone who could be overwhelmed by the beauty of a starry sky as you were. I’ll never forget in dealing with a tough break up you telling me, “Notice the depth of your feelings, the complexity of how you feel right now. I know it’s hard, but that pain has beauty in it. Notice it.” Tough for a 17-year-old to hear, easy for me to appreciate now.
I’m grateful you showed me growth. You never stopped working on a better you, and yes you had your many struggles with how you viewed the current you, but you showed me that we can grow our minds, our bodies, and our hearts. You would probably struggle to agree, but you really grew so much in the last 10 years of your life. The things you learned, and shared with me on that journey are so much a part of who I am today, including my own work and growth process.
I’m grateful you showed me what unconditional love feels like. It feels like this tremendous warmth and support, from deep within, that is always with you. It means you can make mistakes, you can argue, you can get mad, you can screw up, but you’ll still be loved just the same as you always were. It means you give because you love, not because you want.
I’m grateful you showed me how to have a loving relationship. I’ve written about this before (here and here), but without your (and Tom’s) work, I would not have the relationship I have with Julie today. I reap the benefits of this lesson daily.
I’m grateful you showed me childlike curiosity is not just for kids. You were endlessly curious. I hated playing Jeopardy with you because you knew everything about everything. I still have many of your books covering everything from Buddhism to gardening to Astrology. There were few things (except technology really) you weren’t interested in learning more about, and I’ve never met someone who could get as excited about exploring a new topic quite like you.
I’m grateful for our time together. It was shorter than I know we both would have ever expected or wanted, but it was not short on lessons, depth, and love. Today, as any other day, I’m grateful for you.