contributed by a Twin Cities motherless daughter
A Letter to Mom
Preface: Dear Friends, I know this sounds strange, to say, but I had the privilege of knowing my mom's days were numbered. As a part of coming to grips with this understanding, I decided to compose this letter and read it to her. It was one of the most vulnerable and bravest things I've ever done in my life. However, despite all the ups and downs we and complexities that made up our relationship, I loved her and wanted her to know that. When I finished reading it to her, she told me it was beautiful. And then I knew I would be ok and we had made our peace.
I have spent the past 15 years of my life hating your addiction. It’s taken away the mother I had and left me longing for a mother I can never have. I’ve pushed you away to protect myself.
I’ve tried not caring about you; I’ve tried putting walls up, and blocking you out of my life because it hurts so much- it breaks my heart. Because you are my mom. You are the only mom I get. Loving you hasn’t always been easy; its hurt and its been hard. We have had our rough times and I’m sorry for the pain and hurt I have caused you.
I don’t know much about your childhood and early life experiences. I know times were difficult and hard. I don’t know what all happened to you in Montana. But I know that those events brought you here. You had the courage to leave. You had the bravery to start a new life with a hope for something different for you and someday, your children.
As I have had time to reflect on my experience and life and have had time to heal; I have come to peace with the person I am today and the story of my life; the whole story: the highs, lows, pains, sorrow and bliss.
I’ve come to understand you have given me everything you could. You did the best you could with what you were given. Through that, you had hoped for the best and provided me with something that was different than what you were given.
I have seen you at your best and your worst. I have seen you on grand adventures- munching on sunflower seeds with “raccoon eyes” and a book in hand. The joy your eyes light up with delight for your children. I have seen your reality twisted from addiction and your body riddled with cancer. I’ve heard harsh words that can’t be unspoken.
You will always be my mom. You raised me with the hope of offering me something you never had. And I believe you gave me every thing you could (maybe things you never had?) - You gave me love and pain, happiness and fear, freedom, life. This is what I believe is the human experience.
As I write this letter and now as you read this letter, the hardest day of our lives is approaching- saying goodbye. I want you to know I love you. I thank you for giving me everything you could.
It’s been a long hard road. Grieving the loss of my mom continues be full of complex emotions. My heart aches for the mother I will never have. I’m sad for the loss of for what it means to loose the person who gave me life. There has always been a piece of my heart that is hurting.
I saw her at her best and her worst; on grand adventures- munching on sunflower, a book in hand, and delighted by children. I experienced her reality twisted from addiction and watched as her body became riddled with cancer. I’ve heard harsh words that can’t be unspoken. She gave me everything she could and everything she knew how to- love and pain, a support and loneliness.
This experience has left me broken hearted and yet with a deep sense of peace. I will continue down this road of grief, but with a new sense of hope. I can trust that through this journey it will bring me healing. I am grateful for those who stand by me and hold me while I go through this.
Grace and Forgiveness
I’m conflicted about what I believe. How do I find meaning in what Easter is? What about communion…the grace and forgiveness of sins and salvation, yet the ramifications of sin still ripple through time and have impacts on others even when a person is gone.
In thinking through this I have permission to wrestle with the sacred and my faith. I can ask God, How did you let this happen on your watch? How can you be okay with my mom being an alcoholic? A passive father watching TV in the bedroom letting mom raise children this way.”
Me. I’m walking away with flesh wounds when my sisters experiences so much more trauma.
I’m a survivor. That doesn’t mean I’m better than them. It just means I was in a different place when the explosions went off.
This is so hard to grasp- because so much of what I feel as the oldest daughter is survivors guilt.
So how am I feeling about grace and forgiveness? I guess we are wrestling too. As someone who repeatedly gave grace to Mom and still in the end, extended forgiveness to her.
Would God offer something like this to everyone, even people who do awful things? Isn’t he setting himself up to be hurt over and over again, too. A life a disappointments and heartbreak?
Maybe in the end for me in me reading her the letter and acknowledging our relationship, and in her receiving communion she did truly experience grace and forgiveness. Finally the grip of addiction had no more power. She was forgiven and given grace to pass of from this world.