As you were dying, you told me that I was the best daughter you could have ever had. And I know you meant every word as I wiped the tears from your eyes and kissed your forehead. You squeezed my hand three times, and I know what it meant. I love you.
I also knew the reality of that moment.
It was at that moment I realized that you were ready. There would be a finite end to your suffering and a beginning to my own. That conversation plays over and over in my head, as well as the other memories of your journey to peace.
We cheered our beloved Packers as they beat my husband’s beloved Giants. You always forgave our mixed marriage but teased him for his choice of team.
Well, I cheered. You were dying.
We listened to a playlist of songs that you love and sang along with tears in our eyes. We talked about how much you loved Andy Grammer’s music (and looks) and how “I Can Only Imagine” is how you expect heaven to be.
Well, I tearfully sang along. You were dying.
We watched Food Network late into the night and a movie on a Tuesday afternoon. We’d spent so much time invested in these cooking shows on the nights the guys went out. We’d meant to watch the movie earlier, but we were too busy. I was too busy.
Well, I watched it. You were dying.
We told stories while we held hands and snuggled so close to each other. Our feet touched. I couldn’t stop kissing your hand and your forehead. There was no telling where I ended, and you began.
Well, I held your hand. You were dying.
I packed up your blanket, rosary, and the teddy bear my son gave you. You were gone. Cleaning up your hospice room was the first thing I had to do without you.
I told the nurse this was something I had to do on my own. The stark white blanket wasn’t soft and fuzzy and purple. But you looked so peaceful that the white complimented you. I kissed your head one more time and welcomed you as my angel.
It’s been two weeks, and I’ve had to do a lot more without you. But as I look back, I realize that you were teaching me even on your deathbed.
You taught me that I don’t always have to be the one giving. It’s okay to receive sometimes, and you taught me to do so with an open and grateful heart.
You taught me that when decisions need to be made, I know exactly where my priorities lie. My priority will always be the family you were the foundation of.
You taught me that love and laughter are the antidotes to tragedy. You equipped me with the remedies all along because I learned how to love and laugh from you.
You taught me that real strength isn’t always what it seems. Sometimes it is being the person to help others come to terms with harsh realities, and sometimes it’s telling your hero to find peace with a broken heart.
I told you that you were the best mother I could have ever asked for. And I meant every word. You prepared me for a life without you.
Just know that it won’t be the same, Momma. Thank you for making this my hardest goodbye with the best lessons I’ll ever learn.