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Daughter Suddenly Dies, Mom Finds Secret Letter In Her Room And Is Shocked By Its Content
My older daughter has just left for high school, and my younger daughter and my husband are sleeping. Until then I have the house to myself, to luxuriate in the brief silence before the day begins. I take a sip of coffee. One of the cats, the big, lazy one who loves my husband best, stretches on his way up the stairs and yawns. And then, from upstairs in the office, come the loud, mechanical clunks of the ink-jet printer gearing up to do its thing. I walk into the office as the sheet of paper starts emerging into the tray. Some uber-sophisticated 7th grade philosophy treatise? And in our bedroom, my husband is an immobile mass under the white duvet cover. Left to its natural state, my mind veers toward the mystical. As educated, as scientific, as cynical and jaded as I often am, as rational and systematic as I try to be, underneath it all I really do believe in magic in real life. Weird stuff happens all the time. The hard part is giving ourselves permission to pay attention without feeling ridiculous, or ashamed, or bat-shit crazy for thinking this way. Creatively Use and Respond to Change. Vision is not seeing things as they are, but as they will be. Thank you, dear god of the ink-jet printer, for your inexplicably unsolicited wisdom. Because what is the experience of the motherless child if not a constant, creative, lifelong response to change? Our mothers are here, and then they are not, and much of what follows is an attempt to adapt to a world without them and to whatever collateral damage they may have left behind. For some of you, that path will be strewn with obstacles. Maybe some big ones. They may feel insurmountable. You may want to give up. You may feel that way right now. Because those of us just slightly further down this path, by now we know that what is will not always be. Change is a constant. And thank god for that. Whatever is happening now will change. And hour by hour, day by day, Tuesday by Tuesday,— circumstances did change. Usually for the better, but not always. And then those situations eventually changed as well. It takes up so much of you right now, I remember. It may even help you still feel close to your mothers. I remember that part too, and it was hard to let that go. Mother loss will always be part of your story, but it does not have to be your story. You just got a heavy dose of the hard part too young. You may feel now that your life will never be the same again. A mother-sized hole will always exist in your life. But as the author Abigail Thomas has said, eventually you get used to never getting used to it. This is the highest form of acceptance, I think. And you will, one day, be able to recognize good things that have come out of your loss, things that you cherish or are proud of, things that otherwise might never have occurred. Because she died I wrote Motherless Daughters, and because of that I met a motherless woman who introduced me to my husband, and 18 years later we have two daughters who have brought more joy and laughter into my life than pessimistic, worst-case-scneario little me ever thought possible. And because my mother died of undetected breast cancer so young at age 42 I get regular check-ups and mammograms and do everything I can to preserve and maintain my health. Of all the gifts my mother gave me from her life and death, gratitude may be the most important one of all. I remember that part, too. But I promise you — I promise, I promise, I promise — that whatever you feel now will change. Whatever upsurge in emotion you may have this weekend is normal and understandable and real. You get to call the shots. But if you can bear the pain, I encourage you to embrace it as part of your journey. The pain means you loved your mother. It means you miss her. It means you are honoring what she gave you. Or mourning what you never had. And know that it will pass. Outside my office door, the sun just broke through the clouds. I swear to you, this is true. Everything changes, it really does. The same, I believe, can be said about hope.
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