An Anniversary Transformed

(I wrote this yesterday but I ran out of time to post it)

Today dawned with blue skies and sunshine, and proved to be full of smiles, joy, and only a few tears. Instead of being a day of mourning my mother’s death, it felt like a day full of celebrating life, and feeling extremely grateful for what I have – especially the support of wonderful friends and family – and what she gave me.

I was very blessed today to hear from and spend time with three people who lost a parent they loved very much many years ago, all of whom were able to provide me with genuine support and empathy, whilst assuring me that it really does get easier with time.

The day began with an email from my friend Garry, who lives in London, and provided a large amount of empathy and useful tools in the months following my mother’s death. He wrote,

“Another year has flown and yet I bet you it feels at the same time a lifetime ago but also a second ago…

I can only sympathise with you and as you know I understand what you’re going through. The pain of loss will still be sore but as I have seen from your conversations already, the memories of the good times are coming through.

Those are what gets us through days like today. Keep them in the forefront of everything you do and today that sorrow will be slightly easier to tolerate.

Keep the chin up and that face looking into the sun, and feel her warmth on your face!”

I then arrived at work to be greeted with some lovely gifts – a Mother’s Legacy Journal to write in for my own children, and a beautiful book called ‘Loving Thoughts for Mom’, as well as a very moving letter:

‘Dearest Laurel,

Thinking of you and praying for you today. Such a difficult date that brings back so many memories and marks the passing of time without your mum so clearly so that you have no choice but to realise that you haven’t seen her or hugged her or smelt her for two years.

Two years – that’s 730 days.

I pray that today you would be filled with peace that you doing an amazing job at being without your mum. Just to be standing, walking, going on a life, living – those are accomplishments you should be proud of after suffering such a blow. Let alone your success on the home, sporting and career front – the strides you have made in the past two years are phenomenal given the grief that has most likely marked each day in different ways.

Your mum would be so proud of the way you are coping, the way you are moving on, the way you are being such an awesome mum to your own kids. I truly believe our mums are up in heaven watching down over us, and that they see everything we do and achieve – the highs and the lows of our lives.

The world has been emptier for two years, and I can’t tell you that the void will ever completely disappear. But I can tell you that it does get easier. For me it’s been 15 years since my mum died – I’ve been without her one year longer than I was with her. In time the pain becomes much less raw, and these anniversary dates get easier to handle. This one is all too fresh for you, and so I will think about you all day and pray for your strength. I hope you find some nice alone time and a way to reflect and process what the day means.

I think you are amazingly strong and inspiring.

With love,

Olivia.”

Of course this lovely letter moved me deeply, and reading it out loud to my husband this evening I found my eyes flooding and my voice catching. What I find most interesting is that the part that cuts me the deepest is actually the line, ‘For me it’s been 15 years since my mum died – I’ve been without her one year longer than I was with her.’ It is impossible not to feel sorrow for someone else’s pain, and I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for both of these wonderful people to lose a parent while they were only teenagers.

I had planned to spend the afternoon painting, but instead went for an unplanned, three-hour lunch with a deeply empathetic, warm and wise woman, who was also able to assure me that while many years after her father’s death she still misses his wisdom and support, it does get easier with time. The day was ended perfectly with a wonderful dinner out with my husband, where we toasted my amazing mother, and I shed a few tears talking about her, and how moved I had been by all the support I had received today, which had gone a long way to helping me resolve the anger I felt two years ago when very few of my few of my friends knew how provide any sort of emotional support or really understood what I was going through. We then moved gradually onto the topics of living – exciting developments in his business, interesting things I had learnt at work, upcoming challenges, analysis of current news stories and political developments, discussions on human nature and how we approach people, and general dreams and plans for the future.

Life remains eternally unpredictable, and after an emotional difficult few weeks I am deeply grateful to have been able to be surrounded by such strength, honestly, support and wisdom today. It is amazing to me that such a difficult anniversary, full of traumatic memories, could be transformed into such an amazing day – not by ignoring the significance and challenges of it, but by embracing them and thereby allowing them to shift into something that felt full of growth and empowerment.

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8 thoughts on “An Anniversary Transformed

  1. Laurel — sending you love. I am in my two years without my mother as well. The world is a strange place without our mothers; it’s like exploring new grounds with new and unknown maps. But thank goodness for the maps.

  2. It was strange, Laurel. But suddenly on Thursday I thought of reposting the Bluebell post that you inspired last year – and only afterwards did I realize that the next day was the anniversary of your mother’s death.

    It is so wonderful to see how you have grown in two years – yes, with support and understanding, but certainly, in the early days, because of your own exploration of your grief as it manifested in anger, pain, confusion; affecting you mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. The tragedy that you were dealing with was very present in your reflections, but so was the hope and belief that you would come through and go on, not despite the loss of your beautiful mother but in honor of her.

    Blessings, love and hugs, Diane XO ♥

  3. Thank you for your poignant writing Laurel… As you know, Tessa was a good friend to me when we were in Lesotho way back in 1986/87. I admired her SO much.
    Your writing also helps me with my own grief of losing my mother at age 4. Yes, I can attest that the grief never completely goes away! But it can also become a process of healing, resiliency and wisdom. The raw feelings take on many new textures over the years. My grief and sorrow are a powerful link to my mother – so important since my memories are so limited. Grief has provided me with much growth and self understanding – it actually even has a bittersweet quality to it….
    sending compassion, Kath Webster

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