The Answer is Love

Love is Always the Answer

Love is Always the Answer

The Answer is Love

I know the questions are difficult to ask.  I know at the time, I wished that I had someone I could have asked, it’s a question you need an answer to.  But how do you ask a person to answer your deepest fear?  How do you ask someone what to do when your mom or dad gets really sick?  What do you do when they die?  How do you live the rest of your life without them?  The thought of it is terrifying, but I can tell you that love is always the answer.

 

My mother was my best friend, biggest cheerleader and one of my favorite people in the world.  When my mother got sick in 2003, all I wanted to know was, what do I do?  And when she died, I wished for answers.  My mother’s illness and death taught me so many things and after living through it, I have the answers I needed.  But people are afraid to ask me for them.

 

There are many tasks that come with illness and death:  notes, binders, hospice, funerals and estates.  But the answer I am sharing is about emotions.  How do you go on when your life is falling apart?  The answer is love, the answer is always love.

 

What do you do when they get sick?

Whether it is your mom, dad or best friend, the answer is love.  Put aside the mixed emotions, forgive, let go of the small resentments and love them with your whole heart.  When your loved one is sick, anger, frustration and resentment can happen too easily.  We cannot necessarily control the emotion, but we can control which feelings we act through.  When you choose how to interact, choose love.  

 

Hold her hand, hug him, read stories together, reminisce.  Recognizing that even though they are your parent, they are scared and in pain.  Don’t let a minute, month or year of illness change the way you feel or act.  Always think and act through love first.  

 

What do you do when they die?

The answer is love.  Talk about them.  Talk about how much you loved them and how they loved you.  Grieve about losing them, but don’t stop loving them, love is eternal.  Hold it in your heart, bask in the glow of the love they had for you.  Cry.  Look at old pictures and smile when you see and expression of love.  Don’t ever let the love go.  

 

In the beginning, there is so much pain mixed in with the memories.  Some days it will physically hurt.  It is almost as if there is a hole in your chest, that no matter how deep you breath, there isn’t enough air to fill it.  But the answer is still love.  Do not let it go.  Do not let the pain harden your heart.  Keep the love you gave and the love you received in the forefront of your mind.

 

How to live without them?

Slowly the pain fades to numbness and the numbness is replaced by everyday life.  Of course, every once in awhile, you will be blind-sided by the pain.  Something wonderful will happen, and you will think, “Let me call …” And it is shocking how fast it all comes back.  But in this moment, do not forget that the answer is love.  It was love that brought them to your mind, take a moment and embrace it.  Then, when you recover, try to share the love they gave you to someone else.  Hold your child, kiss a loved one, hold a hand.  Love heals.  It heals the recipient, but it also heals the one giving love.  Showing love will honor your loss and restore your heart.  The answer is still love.
Illness is hard.  Death is hard.  Living without your loved one is hard.  But you can make a choice everyday, you can choose to let the pain of loss harden your heart, close you off to others and steal your healing; or you can answer it with love.  For me, the answer is love and I can smile everyday because of it.

 

 

For more on love and loss:

I Will – A Mother’s Love is Eternal

Even Though She is Gone

 

The Answer is Always Love

Loss of Mother

Even though she is gone …

Even though she is gone …

Tomorrow would have been my mother’s 74th birthday. And if she were alive, she would see her children in happy committed relationships. She would have been able to meet her grandchildren. But she isn’t. The last birthday my mother celebrated was her 61st. She died before I became a mother, before I was even married.  Even though she is gone, she is with me always.

"Mother

There have been plenty of times that I’ve thrown myself pity parties, my go-to phrase is usually about how it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that she had to get sick.  She was kind, giving and everyone loved her. It isn’t fair that I lost my best friend. It isn’t fair that my daughter will not know her grandmother. But usually at the peak of my pity party, I remember how incredibly lucky I was and still am. Perspective kicks in and I realize that my life is pretty great.

My mom and I were best friends. During the terribly awkward phase of middle school, she would let me skip school and would take a day from work. We would go to the mall, see a movie and she would remind me of a lesson I’ve returned to my whole life. She taught me that many of the kids that made school so unbearable would peak in middle and high school. They would look back and reminisce about the good old days. My mother always taught me to look forward to tomorrow and make it better than today, to always look at my life as an opportunity to improve and to grow. This is just one of a million things my mother taught me. It is just one the million reasons I’m lucky to be her daughter.

Losing my Hero

When I brought my mother home on hospice, the social worker told me that the only bad part of the kind of relationship I had with my mom, is that it has to end. It was heartbreaking to hear at the time, but now when I realize again how lucky I am. So many people just cannot have a true relationship with their parents. My mom used to tell people that the reason we were such good friends is because we took turns being the mother. We respected each other as women. We transformed a mother-child relationship into adult friends. How many people are lucky enough to become real friends with their personal hero?

When she died, I was terribly lost. I had dedicated such a great part of my life to her care. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew staying home and wallowing in my grief was only making it worse. So I went back to work. Fortunately, not only do I love my job, but it allows me to get so absorbed in it, that I can forget myself and any problems I may have. That first week back, teaching kept me together, but the cracks were evident to the students who knew me and knew what had happened.

At the end of the week, an amazing 8th grade girl waited after class to share a story with me. She told me that when she was eight and her mother died, she didn’t think she would ever be okay again. But she told me that she had been wrong. She told me that it would get better and that someday I would be okay too.

I am lucky

Even through my grief, perspective kicked in. The child standing before me lost her mother as a child and had the compassion to comfort me. At that moment, I was able to appreciate how lucky I had been. The pain was still there and nearly all consuming, but I could see how fortunate I had been. I was grieving something that this child hadn’t even had the opportunity to have. She lost a mother when she needed a mother. I lost my mother, when she was my friend.

I am lucky that I had such an amazing mom. I’m lucky that we had a relationship that most people can only dream of having. I’m lucky that I can look back on all time we spent together, good and bad, and smile that I had such blessings. I am grateful for the beautiful life I have today. If all of the things in my past, including losing my mother, had not happened, I would not be here today. I miss my mom everyday, especially on her birthday, but even though she is gone, I am lucky.

 

Read more about our relationship here.

A Mother's Love - I Will

I Will – A Mother’s Love is Eternal

  

A Mother’s Love

  On October 24th, 2002, my mother was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia and my life was forever changed.  My mother and I were always best friends.  I never went through the teen angst where I rebelled against my parents.  She was my rock and my confidant.  There was never a time I didn’t feel completely support by a mother’s love.  When she got sick, I knew that I would be there for her in every way I possibly could.  

 

    For the next fourteen months, I watch as my mother fought with everything she had.  Her faith never waivered and through the good times and the bad she remained my hero and still is.  I was able to keep my word to myself and I was able to do everything I could for her.  When she passed away, as sad as I was (and still am) I was able to say that I had no regrets in what I did for her.

 

    The specific story I want to share about my mom today, was inspired by a teddy bear.  A small simple teddy bear that has given me the opportunity to connect my mother, the most important person for the first thirty years of my life, to my daughter, the most important person for the rest of my life.  

 

Towards the End …

    Towards the end of my mother’s illness, she was being treated at Memorial Sloane Kettering in New York City.  I had stayed with my mother at every hospital that she was treated, but Sloane Kettering had by far been the best.  Not only was the quality of care amazing, but my Aunt Pat, my mom’s sister, worked across the street and finally I felt that there was someone that could spend time with my mom while I was at work.  Aunt Pat would visit my mother during lunch and occasionally would bring my mom gifts.

   

After school everyday, I would drive down to see my mom and on this day, my aunt had bought her the sweetest stuffed bear.  It was a white teddy bear, with a burgundy hat and scarf.  I had seen it in the gift shop dozens of times, but I didn’t know the bear could sing.  When I got to my mom’s room, she was so thrilled with this small token of love.  She played the song for me, telling me that she didn’t think she had ever heard it before and asked if when I got home, could I Google where it came from.

   

When I got home, I found out that the song was from the second side of The Beatles, White Album.  The song was “I Will” and the lyrics are:

 

I Will – The Beatles

Who knows how long I’ve loved you

You know I love you still

Will I wait a lonely lifetime

If you want me to, I will

For if I ever saw you

I didn’t catch your name

But it never really mattered

I will always feel the same

Love you forever and forever

Love you with all my heart

I Love you whenever we’re together

Love you when we’re apart

And when at last I find you

Your song will fill the air

Sing it loud so I can hear you

Make it easy to be near you

For the things you do endear you to me

Oh, you know I will

I will

 

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sweeter or more perfect song to describe the relationship I have with my mom.  Even though she is gone, I know that she and I will:

 

Love you forever and forever

Love you with all my heart

I Love you whenever we’re together

Love you when we’re apart

A Mother's Love - I Will

When My mom died …

    When my mom died, I was beyond devastated.  I knew that she also had similar relationship with her own mom; I once asked her how she was able to deal with the death of her own mom.  She told me that she put all of her energy and love into my older brother Kevin.  He was just a baby when my mom’s mom died, a mother’s love can heal.  Now here I was, with no mom, no children of my own; I was lost.

 

 I did promise myself that if I had children of my own, I would put everything I had into them, I would give them all a mother’s love.  My brothers and I buried my mom, boxed up her house and did our best to move on with our lives.  We each took different things from mom’s house.  I made sure that one of the things that I took was the bear.  I kept it and played the song when I just missed her too much to bare.

 

    The song ‘I Will” remained a connection to my mom.  Whenever it came up on my iPod, I would think of her and the tears I once shed when I heard it, turned to smiles.  The pain of losing her faded and the happy memories stayed.

 

Ten Years AFter …

Ten years after my mother’s death, I found out I was pregnant.  I didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl.  And didn’t find out the baby’s gender because I wanted a surprise, because I did secretly wish for a girl.  I hoped that I again could feel the bond between a mother and a daughter, this time I could be the mother instead of the daughter.   Whenever I thought about my mom, I would sing “I Will” to my belly.  I knew the baby could hear it and it was not only a connection I needed to share with my baby, but a message.

 

My gorgeous girl  was born in the winter of 2015  The very first song I ever sang to her was “I Will”.  When I got home from the hospital, I dug out my mother’s bear and was devastated when I realized that I had left the batteries in the stuffed animal and ruined the power source.  I thought that this stuffed animal would be a connection between my mother and my daughter.  I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity for a few hours, then decided to look online to see if I could replace it.  

 

In five minutes, I had ordered the exact same stuffed bear; in two days it was in my house and within moments of receiving it my daughter was in love.  Although I wished I could have given her the same bear that my mom had owned, but material possessions are just that, material.  They are not the memory, it isn’t the love.  It is just a reminder of them.  This replacement still gives me this story to share with you and to share with my daughter.  This bear is a symbol of a mother’s love.

 

I Will love you Forever

The song the bear plays, “I Will”, was her first lullaby and remains her lullaby today.   I know that when I sing, “Love you forever and forever, Love you with all my heart,  I Love you whenever we’re together, Love you when we’re apart.”  She feels the love I have for her and the love my mother had for me.  A mother’s love for her child never goes away, it never dies.  A mother’s love is eternal.

If you liked this, consider reading Even Though She is Gone.

 

 

A Mother's Love - I Will