Mother’s Day: A memorial to my mamacita

The thing in my life that brings me more joy than anything else, is parenting alongside my husband, so I feel like I should love Mother’s Day. But, Mother’s Day is especially hard for people who don’t have a positive relationship with their mom, wish more than anything they could be a mother and aren’t, or have lost their mom and are left to navigate the world without her. I lost my mom when I was way too young. I look back and realize that it was the beginning of a life journey where I began to learn about grief and how to minister to people in a counseling setting. As we begin to celebrate moms this weekend, a practice that is beautiful in so many ways, I pray for those that have a hard time on this day. I miss my mom just a little bit more on Mother’s Day… so today, I am sharing the word’s I spoke at her memorial service so many years ago as a tribute to those who celebrate this day without their mama:

Mamacita…My little mama….

Last week, a friend of my mom’s (no, I won’t tell who…), was at the house when a hospice nurse was there. The nurse asked her relation to my mom. She said, “Salma is my best friend and although I know I am hers, I know there are at least 20 others who feel the same way.” The other day my brother and I were on the couch with mom and I jokingly asked her who her favorite child was. She smiled a little and giggled as she said, “Who’s all here?”. As my mom’s only living daughter, I’d like to think I was her favorite. Of course, she made me FEEL like she loved me best but the truth is, my mom didn’t have to play favorites. My teeny mama had a heart as big as a house with plenty of room for all those she loved. I don’t know how she had the time and energy to maintain all the relationships she had. I can only count it as a gift from God that she how to prioritize her life in a way that she was there for so many of us in this room when we needed her most. I have countless memories of times when my mom held my hand and said just the right thing to encourage me, praise me, confront me or challenge me.

I think she had time for all of us because she made time for all of us. I always thought my mom was a pretty decent housekeeper but she was always trying to be better at it. She was always saying, “I just need to get organized!”. One time she told me, “You know what my problem is? If someone calls or drops by, I’d much rather talk to them than finish what I am doing.” Thank goodness she realized that organized cupboards are great but they don’t make good friends. Still, it was always on her mind. Flying home from my brother John’s wedding in New Jersey, the engine of our plane caught on fire and we had to make an emergency landing in Denver. Thinking of other’s first, she turned to my Dad and said, “If you have to save us, save Sonia first.” Then she turned to me and said, “If I die, don’t let anyone see my messy drawers!”

My mom did always put others first. The event in my life that was most meaningful to me was the birth of my twins. As many of you know, Mike accepted a job in Salt Lake City and began commuting there 4 days a week just 14 days after my c-section delivery. I was overwhelmed by my colicky babies and with the showing of my home to potential buyers. Mom, still weak after beating cancer the first time, would arrive on Sunday night and stay for the four days while Mike was gone. She did this for almost 6 months. She gave up her lecturing, her lunches with friends…almost everything…during this time to make sure that I could recover and mentally prepare for my move. We had sweet times together during that crazy time. We laughed and cried, and talked and talked and talked as we rocked Azile and Emilee. I have often thought that I would not have enjoyed one minute of those months had she not been there with me.

Another gift that my mom gave to me is that she loved the people I loved. She took in every one of my friends as one of her own. Granted, most of my friends were lovely people, but there were a couple who were…well, not as wonderful as others…yet, I could always count on my mom to show the people I brought home, her renowned hospitality.

By giving of herself to others, my mom inadvertently gave me another gift that I have appreciated more than ever in the past week. She gave me the gift of many of you. Because Mom was a Godly woman, because she was a good friend, because she opened her heart and home to others, she created an enormous circle of friends that Dad, Paul, John and I think of as family. No one can ever replace my mom in my life, but she made sure I had at least 20 women, all her best friends, who because of their love for her, will grieve with me and love me through this most difficult time in my life.

Thank you all so much for being here today and for that you meant to my mom.

 

Happy Mother’s Day…because whatever our joy, whatever our pain…we are grateful for the women in our lives who have sacrificed to make our lives richer.

Embracing the theme that life serves up: Using grief and loss as a motivator

A friend of mine from grad school…LISA LEAHEY….is now a two-time inspiration to this blog of mine. This woman is about to embark on an amazing career as a speaker and author (with a little counseling on the side) because she has an ability to get to the point, the actual point, in an instant. We were chatting today about a speaking opportunity and got side tracked, and ended up talking about my blog. Then she made the astute point that if my blogs were starting to have a theme, I should embrace that, not run away from it. Theme in our lives can lead to having a specialty!

But my recurring blog theme is GRIEF!  Let’s face it, grief is not something that one wants to run into the arms of, on a regular basis. As humans, we want to avoid grief and we long for carefree moments and happier times. Are you are like me? I plan vacations as much for the anticipation of the relaxation and the escape, as the event itself. Choosing to embrace grief seems unnatural and wrong. Grief is scary and emotional, but a part of our lives, nonetheless. Planning a vacation isn’t going to take that away.

Celebrating Christmas with Shelly Dana
Celebrating Christmas with Shelly Dana

I have blogged about the loss of parents and loved ones, the loss of relationship, and the loss of health. And yet, all this blogging did not protect me from the loss of a friend just a couple weeks ago now. Oddly enough, my friend Shelly Dana was the heartbreak I felt when I posted during October, Breast Cancer Awareness month. She was taken by that cancer just a couple of days after Christmas this year and I find myself grieving yet again. And because I cannot help myself, I am analyzing the loss, so that I can offer the experience to those I serve as a counselor. It is different than the others…it is the same and different, all at the same time.

The obvious part of losing my funny, adventurous, smart, beautiful and spiritual friend is that I will not get to spend time with her again on this earth. She always made ME feel funny, adventurous, smart, beautiful and spiritual when I was with her so I am going to miss that kumbaya-ness that Shelly brought to our gatherings. But there is more…there is much more…that makes this complicated.

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