Mothers’ Day, No Regrets

Searching for a lost list, I unexpectedly landed in a completely different world. I found my writings after Mother died of cancer in 2010. Their raw emotion, untidied by literary rules, transported me to bloody battles with me as the enemy on both sides.

Mothers’ Day falls this coming weekend. That journal resurfacing now seems timely. I hope this time capsule grows your view of your mom and comforts you.


Even though I had time to prepare for Mom’s death and tried to have no regrets, I failed. I am realizing things about Mom that I would like to discuss with her. Only now am I realizing things I wish I had done or said. I wish I had been assured of her eternal security so that I could have concentrated on other things and not been so distracted.

So now, if I could, I would lay beside her on the bed and hold her hand at every visit. Instead of waiting or looking for what she would say to me during her last months, I would speak to her, tell her I love her, admire her, gained from her, was inspired by her.

I would thank her for sticking with us through those lonely and overwhelming years when we were small children. I would thank her for the bedspreads, curtains, clothes, and blankets that she sewed and knitted for me. I would thank her for making my lunches and for freezing my juice so that it would still be cold at school . 

I would thank her for reading to me and passing her love for reading to my children through me. I would thank her for listening without judgment and for being interested. I would thank her for denying herself to keep from interfering in my young family.

I would tell her that I admire that she never, ever spoke degradingly of my husband, his family or of anyone. I would tell her I admire the way she could see unnoticeable people or people that looked like trouble, and then had the courage to do something for them instead of ignoring them.  I admire her for all the people who have come forth with stories of her help. 

I would say I was sorry that I was too blind and unobservant to see her influence in other people’s lives, because I did not view or treat her like a person. I would apologize for not respecting her enough and for making fun of her hoarding supplies. 

I’m so very angry, stymied and frustrated that I cannot do this over. I cannot change what I didn’t do or say. I cannot make it up to her. There is no do over.

Yes, I should apply these lessons to my other relationships, but how I mourn I did not apply them to my own mom. Please, O God, please make up for my failures and bless her. Please let her feel You large, warm, loving, secure arms around her and assure her of her extreme value, her special cherished part in Your and our hearts. As overwhelmed as I suspect that she was with physical pain, hurt, disappointment, and insignificance, may she now be overwhelmed with love, joy, acceptance, strength, and HAPPINESS.

They say hearing is the last thing to stop functioning in a dying person, but they don’t warn you that you won’t be able to talk, that your words will be unintelligible sobs that you fear will distress the patient. They don’t warn you that others’ ears will hear these last confessions and endearments that are intensely private.

So did I do anything right? Anything I can be thankful for doing? Yes, I lay on the bed and took her hand that one time. I took off work to be with her. I traveled many times and stayed several days at a time. I sat next to her on the couch close enough that we were touching. I stayed up with her all night and caressed her hand and smoothed her hair. I saw glimpses of her as someone other than mom during those last years and thought to ask questions of her art and her family, just not enough, not enough.”

I scrawled those words over ten years ago, trying to purge grief. In truth, my mom and I had a great relationship, but at her dying, I felt only loss and regret. With time, God has righted my perspective and hope. Mother died knowing I loved her, and I knew she loved me. We both tried our best, and that IS enough. 

8 thoughts on “Mothers’ Day, No Regrets”

  1. Thank you for the vulnerability it took to open your grief journal and let us peek inside. Your self-awareness and ability to identify and communicate your feelings during that time was remarkable. As someone who still has my mother alive this is very enlightening and instructive. I appreciate your sharing and shifting some of my perspectives.

    1. Thank you, Lee Ann. Sometimes we’re too close to a relationship to see it in perspective until something stretches it a distance away from us. I guess that’s why it’s easier to see other people’s relationships more plainly than we see our own. I thank our gracious God that through blunders and omissions, He redeems and puts together something beautiful and wondrous of the pieces. I pray you’re as gracious to yourself as you are to your mom during these reversal years.

      1. Thank you for those great words of encouragement, Suzy.

        I forgot to mention earlier how much I love the photo of your mother. She was beautiful.

  2. Denise Martindale

    Thank you for this profound survey of what it is to lose a parent. Your life is the best tribute and most loving thing that you can do for her.

    1. Denise, many years have gone by since your mom died and not many since your Dad’s passing. Has your perspective changed over time? I know the losses of different people can’t really be compared (apples to oranges) but would you say that some of the lessons are the same?

  3. As Mother’s Day approaches, thank you for this poignant and beautifully written reminder of what matters. Caring for aging parents can be challenging. I still have work to do and time is indeed precious.

    1. Jill, bless you for caring for your parents. It is a conflicting, difficult work, but later you will not begrudge your time and effort as surely at your parents don’t begrudge their sacrifices in raising you. One day, we may rely on our children when we no longer are able to care completely for ourselves.You’re being a good role model for them. I hope you enjoy your Mother’s Day.

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