For My Mother

LJ Black
4 min readJan 3, 2022

On Her 1st Heavenly Birthday

Photo by April Pethybridge on Unsplash

This is our first birthday without you. It’s been just a few months since we last spoke in person.

I try to not think about our last few days together — how I held it together so I could make decisions to prolong your comfort and our selfish need to keep you close for just one more day, one more hour, one more minute. As the time ticked away, I tried not to note every detail; how you smiled when Julie and I told silly stories to make you laugh, or brushing your fine, white hair, or how dad cuddled close to you on your last night in your home. We watched Gunsmoke and The Virginian on a loop because they were your favorites, and also in a vain attempt to slow down time. The three of us tried to comfort each other as the time ticked away.

Julie and I helped persuade Dad to call the ambulance on your last morning in your home. You joked with the first responders as they helped you into the ambulance. I covered your bare feet with a blanket from the chilly morning. I even took a picture of the clouds in the winter sky, knowing it was significant. I would have to remember this moment, I thought. Here is a picture. Snap.

I drove Dad and Julie to the hospital in your car. Like faithful pups, we followed you, but we weren’t allowed in because of Covid protocols. Dad stayed with you, and I took Julie to lunch so we could calm our nerves. Just as we sat down and ordered our Dr Peppers, we were called back to the hospital to watch Dad struggle to tell us the news that you had reached the end of your journey with cancer. Before he spoke, we all knew.

I’m so proud that Valari and I were the first to see you. Valari was mostly quiet, but as usual, I had a lot to say. Do you remember what I said? I’m not sure if you knew, but I was speaking for all of us. I said THANK YOU. Thank you for being our mom. And that I was sorry for not taking you to Rome, and even though I had been before, you were with me when I went. You were with me every single day of my life, no matter how far the airplane or my whims took me. And that it’s going to be ok. I said the words I hoped you needed to hear. With Dad seated close by like a captain watches over a fallen General, I said the three things we all need to hear when our time is done. I said, “You are not alone. You will feel no pain. We will be ok.”

LJ Black

Wife. Mother to an autistic son and an adopted daughter. Alpha female to my pack of dogs & lover of nature. Eagerly searching for that perfect Prosecco.