We had been putting it off all morning. The rain lightly fell as my brother, dad, and I quietly sat on the front porch of my parents’ brand new farmhouse, a house Mom dreamed of for years but scarcely got the time to enjoy. She spent her last five months there, never able to sit on the floor and play Barbies with her granddaughters, or make a meal in her kitchen, or take a soothing bath in her soaking tub.

She spent her last two months lying in a hospital bed in the living room under hospice care, saying she just wanted to go home. We helplessly watched as the stage IV metastatic breast cancer she valiantly battled for 10 years spread into the raging monster we always knew it was capable of becoming.

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The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13 that love always hopes, so maybe that’s why I hoped breast cancer wouldn’t take my mom away and prayed for miraculous healing until she took her last breath.

God was certainly capable of extending her earthly life but took her home instead.

She had been gone a little over 24 hours. One of my worst nightmares had come true. From my front porch view, the rain had come to stay for a while, much like the tears that had been steadily drizzling down my cheeks since this fog of grief had enveloped me.

And now it was Mother’s Day. And time to pick out her burial clothes.

We finally headed inside and went to her closet.

It is a strange feeling to sift through clothes your loved one will never wear again—clothes that are no longer needed.

Dad picked a favorite shirt of hers that she often wore during her 19 years of teaching, along with blue jeans.

I started looking through her dresser for jewelry options. Mom was not the fancy type but instead loved unique and quirky pieces, especially handmade items like her own fused glass jewelry. I remembered a favorite pair of silver turtle earrings she often wore (before the hard days of hospice and hospital gowns) and suddenly the gravity of this loss hit me so hard. All I wanted was to hold the earrings, this sweet little reminder of Mom in her glory days that I had almost forgotten about until now.

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I decided to keep them so I could wear them when I needed to hold her memory extra close and picked a pair of bee earrings instead.

And then, I found something that absolutely left me speechless.

On the right side of her dresser drawer, nestled amongst her jewelry, was another possession she had deemed special enough to keep all these years: a little pocket-sized card with her name on it, “Gwen,” and a Bible verse. When I flipped it over, I couldn’t believe what I saw. In my 9-year-old handwriting were the words, “To Mom, From Lindsey, Mother’s Day ‘94.”

She had no idea I would find that little card tucked away in her dresser the day after her death, 25 years later, on Mother’s Day nonetheless. But its discovery spoke volumes to me. It spoke of what her heart treasured—love from her child.

My seemingly small gift to her had become her gift of love right back to me when I needed it most.

My drizzle of tears turned into a downpour.

During Mom’s illness, a thoughtful lady from my church mailed me a card with a handwritten note that said, “1 Corinthians 13:8—Love goes on forever!” It most certainly does. The Bible’s famous love chapter concludes by saying in verse 13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Love. What a gift to leave behind! A gift that goes beyond the grave.

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As a mother myself, I realize I can’t keep everything my girls bring home. But I do have a special stash—a collection of cards covered in stickers, drawings that say, “I love you, Mommy.” And I hope if they find it one day after I’m gone, they’ll hear me say, “I love you, too.”

Lindsey Witten

I was raised in East Tennessee and live in Kentucky with my husband and two girls. I love playing hymns on the piano, a good cup of chai tea, the mountains, and roaring bluegrass. I recently lost my mom to cancer and miss her every day.