Gallery of Gratitude—Week #5

15 weeks, 15 letters, 15 minutes. To start the new year, 2015. It’s never too late to join us. Learn about the challenge here.

Someone who loved someone you loved

When my mom died, I wasn’t the only one who felt a loss. She had coworkers, a priest, friends, and kids who came into her clinic at school. Today, send a message to a person who might also miss someone you’ve lost. Or write anyone who’s recently experienced a lost of any sort (divorce, death, loss of a job) and let them know they’re not alone.

Grief is a funny thing. Sharing a loss can cause people to grow apart—sometimes people don’t want to see someone who reminds them of what they’ve lost. On the other end of the spectrum, though, the shared loss can also pull people together. When I run into one of Mom’s friends, it triggers a little bit of sadness—but that’s trumped by the comfort of knowing that someone else gets it. Someone else shares the hurt. Someone else misses her too. She influenced lives outside of our small little family. There are so many people I could name right now, but Judi comes immediately to mind.

She and Mom were friends from high school, and in Mom’s last few years, even though Judi lived in Texas and Mom in Indiana, they grew closer than ever. Judi had been fighting cancer for years, and now Mom was. They sent each other quirky gifts and made each other laugh. I’m so grateful for that, for the way their friendship grew during those years. For the fact that Mom knew that someone out there “got it.” Dad insisted that Mom was gonna be OK. So did I. But Judi, I think, is the one person who would go down those “what if” roads. Who would talk about the fears and really understood what Mom was facing. She didn’t love Mom any less than we did. And she fought and prayed for God to heal Mom. But she let Mom be real.

A few months after Mom died, my sister and I got a package in the mail from Judi, with cards saying she knew how hard it must be to face the date of Mom’s birthday without her. A year or two earlier, Judi bought herself and Mom matching bracelets which contained a single charm—a coin from the years of their births. Now she wears both hers and Mom’s on her own bracelet. But that year Judi sent what has to be the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received: a silver dime from the year Mom was born, mounted and hanging from a silver chain. She sent Kerry and I each one.

I know that gift was from Judi. I know she loved my mom, and that she promised Mom she would continue to remind her girls how much they were loved. But that necklace feels like a touch from Mom, a gift from the woman I never thought could give me a gift again. I wear it when I wish she could be there to see what I’m doing. I wear it when I need courage. I wear it when I just want to remember. I wear it nearly all the time. And I give thanks for Judi, for instinctively knowing just what I needed. For understanding that Mom is the thread that connects Judi and I, and that when I think of Judi, I feel closer to Mom.

Is there someone you can reach out to today? Someone else who feels a void, someone who also misses a person who used to be present in both of your lives? Or is there someone who you know is feeling a loss, and even though you don’t share that loss in the same way, would you just let them know that you remember? That you’re thinking of them, and of the person they loved, and that you wanted them to know? Mail a letter, or post a little bit about them on Facebook, or comment on this blog post… or pick up the phone and tell them hello.

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