Exactly one year ago today, I hugged my sweet Mama for the last time. I still remember holding on tight to her and not wanting to let go, scared and uncertain of how exactly I was supposed to do that. I soon came to realize that it’s not until the physical body is gone that you truly begin to hold onto the soul. At that moment, when there is nothing left to grasp onto, the best part of a loved one’s soul holds tight to you instead and helps guide you through the most difficult moments of your life. It is at that time that you begin to feel the magnitude of love that has ebbed and flowed between the two of you.
There is not a day that passes that I do not think of Mama all the time. Her face is at the forefront of my mind as I rise and her words of wisdom comfort me at night as I try to wind down from the challenges of the day. She is in the stories that I share with friends and the advice that I offer to my students. Her words lift from my tongue without realization until the thought pops into my mind that it is exactly something she would say. When I’m feeling sad, thoughts of her kindness comfort me. When I’m feeling angry, memories of her strength and perseverance enter my mind. When I’m feeling happy, recollection of her laughter envelopes my heart.
She is with me today just as much as she was all the years before. I cannot hug her tightly in my arms; but, I can feel her arms wrapped around my heart. I cannot share in conversation with her; but, I can sense her words of comfort daily. I cannot taste her food, ask her a question, or comfort her when she cries. But there is one thing for certain I can experience…..each time my chimes ring….which tends to be often these days….it sure feels like her voice rising just above all the other angels on high to sing a song of happiness and support.
One of the things that stands out so strongly in my memory of Mama in her final days is how positively she acknowledged her final visits with friends and family. Instead of saying goodbye each time someone came to visit her during that final week, Mama tended to say, “See you tomorrow.” It remains as one of my most cherished memories of her final days. I love that goodbye was not an option for her, but instead a simple statement reminding us all that we will enjoy a loving reunion somewhere later on down the line, was.
Miss U! Love U! Mean it, my sweet Mama!!
“See you tomorrow!!”
Recently I was presented with the challenge of selecting my absolute favorite photograph ever taken. Mind you, that is out of thousands. However, I found it to be an easy choice. For me the photo does not have to be perfectly composed, or even perfectly focused; but it absolutely must be from the heart. By far the most cherished photo that I have ever taken is this one of Mama. It was taken two days before Mom’s passing and during my brother’s wedding.
Originally, my brother and his sweet fiancee were to be married on my parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary at our ranch house with both families present. So many plans had been made, flights had been purchased, hotels reserved, and catering set. However, things drastically changed when Mama’s health faltered and she was placed in hospice just days prior to that. Knowing how much she wanted to witness the marriage ceremony and their desire to have her present, my brother and his fiancee decided to change the venue. In less than two days, all family members altered their flights, plans, and prior arrangements to attend the wedding of this selfless and loving couple. Amazingly enough, every family member was able to make arrangements to attend. The hospice facility staff was beside themselves with assisting in the preparation since this was the first and only wedding they had ever had in their facility. They were as excited as we all were. They too, had grown to love Mom instantly, as so many did.
During the days in hospice, Mama seemed to be fading with moments of her true spirit shining through, allowing times of true joy for all of us. She slept a lot and couldn’t seem to focus very clearly; but we all knew she was alert enough to know that a wedding was going to take place. On November 19th, with my father officiating and my mother looking on from her hospital bed, two of the most amazing people on this planet were joined in matrimony. That day, the day of this photo, was Mama’s most coherent day. It was as if the sickness had left her body to allow her complete delight. She was laughing, hugging, talking, and blowing kisses to us all. It was during this time that I turned the lens on her and captured the purest moment of clarity and happiness in Mama that day. She passed away two days later and just two days shy of their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
It has now been exactly seven months to the date since her passing and posting this photo brings the same raw emotion as it did the day I peered through the eyepiece and captured her true essence. For me personally, the photos which evoke the most emotion are the dearest in our hearts. This photo of Mama is by far my most emotionally charged and favored photograph ever. It manages to grasp onto those ultimate moments of beautiful clarity and the memories of those final days spent with my dearest, sweet Mama.