Sunday, June 18, 2006
Pass the Kleenex, Please
Have you ever boo-hooed to the point of near convulsion but tried so hard to keep it in that you felt sure you might explode? Today's message at church was that powerful. It was the story of a girl named Holly and her relationship struggles with her Dad. From the moment she began to speak, I was drawn in by her humor and the way in which her story unfolded.
Bottom line: her on-again/off-again relations with her father and the healing they were able to go through shortly before his death to cancer 3 years ago made for a poignant story; however, what got me the most was the note she wrote to him in a book. She tried to recall the good times they had shared-- even though she was sure they'd been few and far between. As she jotted down favorite memories, they poured forth and she was able to weave together a lifetime of special moments. During the sermon, she reached for the book and slowly opened to the page where she had penned her innermost feelings. There wasn't a dry eye in the place. Halfway through the list, I watched as fellow church members dabbed at their eyes or tried stoically to blot away tears without being too obvious.
Having wished many times that I had been able to share such memories with my Mom before she died, I could not contain my emotions as she recited the special times she had shared with her father. Because Mom's death had been more sudden than expected, I have often dreamt of what I would have said to her or questions I would have asked her had I known it was the end. The raw emotion swelled inside me and, at the very moment I thought I would let out some sort of embarrassing burst of sobs, Holly injected a bit of humor that allowed me to exhale and cover what would have been an awkward display.
I guess I was envious. There are few things I wouldn't give to have had the forethought to provide my Mom with a comprehensive memoir of how she made my life wonderful. I'm sure (as many have told me) that she "knew"...but that's not enough. I never got to tell her that I'm sorry for losing her engagement ring as a child. I never told her that I really didn't resent her for being the "cool" Mom even though sometimes I wondered if friends came over to hang out with her instead of me. I never thanked her for instilling in me a love of all things musical and poetic and that, if it weren't for her, I would not have this inner desire to write down all of my thoughts. I never thanked her for sewing every prom dress I ever wore or for driving an hour to rescue me from a wardrobe malfunction before my big final marketing presentation in college. I loved the fact that she insisted on painting a fake fireplace in my first dorm room to make it feel more like home. I could have told her how much I loved the candles she lit when were coming for a visit or that silly box of "stuff" she insisted on sharing with us the moment we walked in the door.
I know she knew that I loved her. I have never doubted that. I just wish I would have let her know how much all the little things meant, too. All the seemingly unimportant, un-life-altering things that she did to make my life better.
I am changed by the message that I heard today. I no longer want to wait until another loved one is gone to let them know all the ways they have made an impact on my life. This is important stuff. We all want to know that we mattered.
Thank you, Mom...for the big stuff and the little stuff.
You always mattered to me.