Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Missing my Mom on her 61st Birthday

This past month, I have embarked on a herculean task: organizing cards, letters, and mementos from the last ten years to put in my journals.

Yes, ten years of memories were stored in a UHaul moving box in our garage, and I was determined to get them sorted into years and then put them in chronological order in my journals.

It has taken hours and hours and hours, and I'm still not done, but it has been pretty amazing to go back in time and read all of those letters.  It has made me both grateful and melancholy, happy and a little sad--to relive the memories, notice how I have changed (and not changed), and remember the good people who have made me me.

Within this treasure trove of memories, I found a real gem: a letter that my best friend from college wrote to me about my mother.  She wrote it on my mom's birthday, a few years after my mom had passed away.  We always "Sallybrate" on June 14th and share memories of my mom, and that year, my bosom friend Becky contributed also.

Today is my mom's 61st birthday, and as part of my own Sallybration, I want to share part of Becky's letter here.  So few people in my life now ever met my mother (Ryan never even met her!), so to have the memories of someone who knew her, who saw her interacting with me, who felt her goodness in person...it is priceless.

This is what she wrote:


I wanted to write you and tell you the influence your mom has had on me in my life.  I was excited to hear about your Sallybration, and now I am going to add my part of it.

I only met your mom three or four times, but through those few times, and through you, I know her.  I have learned so much from her.  One thing I have learned from her is to have fun despite.  I remember in Moab, when she came to watch us for our half marathon, she had just had surgery, but she was just as happy and silly as ever.  She made everyone around her happy and silly as well.  Things were rough, but she still made the most of life.  It makes me think of Elder Wirthlin's talk at Conference, "An Abundant Life."  Your mom led an abundant life.  I want to be more like that.

I have also learned more about serving. When I was in the Missionary Training Center, I played Secret Cupid for the girls in my training group.  They probably thought I was weird, but I did it anyway because little surprises in life are fun and I had fun doing it.  I love that tradition that your mom started.

I remember you telling me that in the final weeks of her life, your mom asked you to take her to a friend's house who needed her help, even though she was so so sick.  I want to be more like that.  That was how Christ was--He didn't care what the circumstances were, he just served.  He served everyone.  I want to see and take the opportunities like that--like your mom did.

I remember her calling you almost every day that first year of college, to talk about whatever, especially Laura's surprise 16th birthday party that she was planning.  I remember her being so excited about everything you did, everything you accomplished.  She would send you cards and packages just to tell you how proud she was of you and how much she loved you.  When your parents came to Provo, they took all of us to dinner because she wanted to be a part of your life as much as she could and that meant knowing your friends at college.  I want to be a mom like her--so supportive and excited about my kids, so involved in and a part of my kids' lives.

Rach, I am thankful to have known her.  I am thankful for the person she is and for the person you are because of her.  That is one of the biggest things.  I can tell how she was because of how you are.

God is taking care of us, Rach.  Don't you love that?  So many people in the world don't know that, but I know He is.  I look back five years, and I see it.  I see it in our friendship.  I see it in your mom's life.

I love you, Sis.

I am so grateful that Becky took the time to write down those memories, so I could discover them again ten years later, and remember in clearer detail what my mom was like.

If you are ever wondering how to support someone who has lost a loved one, consider writing them a letter of memories.  Moments you remember of that person, lessons you learned from them--and even more than that, memories you have of your friend or loved one interacting with the person that they lost.  That is my favorite part of Becky's letter--the memories of what my relationship with my mom was like.

I can't tell you how much I miss her.  Hearing her voice and her laughter on the other end of the phone, getting a letter in the mail with ideas for my upcoming lesson in church, seeing her interacting with my friends and knowing that they were being influenced by her goodness.

She was remarkable.  Sometimes I wonder if I have romanticized just how good she was--if time has made me remember her through rose colored glasses.  But then I read letters like this, and I am reminded that others saw it too.  Others saw her light.

I will be remembering her today and always--and thanking God that I was blessed to be her daughter.