kindness, mom, reflection

Seven Years

My mom died seven years ago today.

I woke up this morning thinking of her, a bit nostalgic as I later picked out my clothes to wear to breakfast. When I saw my black, long-sleeved CNU shirt hanging in my closet, I was catapulted to May 4, 2017, sitting beside my mom, holding her hand as she took her last breath.

Even though it’s been seven years, the shirt remains in my closet, a visual reminder of that last day. I remember every detail like it was yesterday, from me racing to the hospital in my glasses, ripped jeans, and flip flops to the rainstorm that poured from the sky right after she passed. I remember the impromptu family reunion we enjoyed that morning, with my mom cracking jokes and telling stories, as chipper as a girl in her youth. I remember when she closed her eyes for the last time with her husband, Bob, on one side of her bed and me on the other.

Death is hard.

But death is also beautiful as I captured in my reflections one month after her passing. It’s something very raw and intimate to share the transition from this life to the next. The bar is raised when you share that moment with your mother.

I was curious on how my mom would show up for me today. She did not disappoint! Below are my #HiMom moments from morning to night.

Breakfast Surprise

Every Saturday morning, we have breakfast with Rich’s dad, whom we affectionately call Grandpa Letter. Shortly after being seated at Marty’s, a local restaurant in our town, I was shocked to see one of my sweet, college sorority sisters, Sutessa, walk through the door with her husband. Such joy!

Sutessa doesn’t live in Mechanicsville, so I never see her around town. In fact, the last time we were together was when she invited me as a guest speaker to her local book club to talk about A Passion for Kindness, which they all had read. It was wonderful to reconnect with her, even if only for a few moments. As we hugged and took a selfie, I whispered to her that she was a Godwink from above to give me a hug from my mom. She was in the right place, at the right time, without even realizing it.

(As a sidebar, Sutessa was one of my close friends when my mom attempted suicide. She and I often carpooled to and from college, sharing the 4 hour drive together to stay awake on the long drive. We’ve had lots of sweet memories through the years including both having redhead boys!)

Sutessa and I at Marty’s

#HiMom Heart

I knew I would see a heart today, but I didn’t expect it to be a pothole in my neighborhood! Imagine my surprise as I made the realization while trying to swerve out of the way. I literally laughed out loud! Then I turned around, got out of my car, and took a picture with a pothole. (Better a pothole than a pothead, right mom? Haha)

Hard to miss that #HiMom pothole!
My #HiMom heart for May 4

Hugs and Kisses

One of my elementary school friends operates her own small business creating customized gifts. I had placed an order with her earlier in the week, then saw my order was ready to be picked up today. Not only was the bag in my favorite color (turquoise), but she wrote a personalized note with an XO on the outside of the bag. Hugs and kisses from my mom! How awesome is that? Then, when I opened the package, I discovered that she blessed me with kindness with a few extra gifts to give away at no cost. Kindness always makes a hard day easier!

Thank you, Holly, for reminding me that I’m loved!

Starbucks Seven

My mom loved to drink coffee. I decided to visit Starbucks, leaving $7 with a note to be discovered by a stranger to buy them a cup of coffee. Imagine my surprise when I went to the counter and saw a KIND bar right under two types of gift cards – one that said “One Amazing Mama” (spelled the exact same way I used to spell/call my mom growing up) and the other saying “Best Teacher Ever” (I’m an educator.) Could that Godwink BE any more obvious? Another smile and laugh for me.

Seven dollars for seven years
Time for a #HiMom RAK!
A perfect place to leave my RAK

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday my son moved out of college, ending his sophomore year. He’s only home for one day before he leaves again, this time for a week-long trip to Florida with one of his college groups. I bought two little bags of chocolate chip cookies to sneak into his bag as a surprise for the road trip. My change was $7.05. Seven dollars. Seven years. I’m counting it as as another wink from my mom.

Cookies for my boy
Another seven dollars for seven years!

Turkey Dinner

Weeks ago, Grandpa Letter was so excited to find frozen turkeys on a deep discount at Publix. He invited us over for dinner tonight, not even realizing the meaning of today’s date for me. As my little family gathered at his home, enjoying what truly was an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner in May, I was reminded of the last Thanksgiving meal I enjoyed with my mom, the first we had shared in several decades. I don’t recall taking any pictures from that day, a practice that has drastically changed since my mom has left this world. Now I take pictures of EVERYTHING. I am constantly living in the moment while also preserving the moment for years to come. I made sure to take lots of pictures tonight, too.

Celebrate everything, especially on May 4!

When tomorrow arrives and the date shifts to May 5, it will be a new day with new memories to make. Even though I miss my mom with each passing year, I am grateful to continue on in her absence, now the matriarch of my own family tree.

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