I wrote this letter to my own mama, who died far too soon and far too painfully. But I can’t help but think that there are so many women, so many mamas, who deserve different stories. Better stories. So, if that is you, or your mama, or your best friend, this letter is for you, too. We don’t get to choose our stories. But we do get to choose what kind of hope and strength we get from them. I hope this encourages you to find yours.

Mama, I used to want a different story for you. I wanted your pages to read of health and wholeness and longevity. I did not want you defined by your clinical diagnoses but instead defined by your grandbaby shopping skills, your homemade pie crust, and your barrel racing times. I wanted you to have the blissful freedom to be you, a wife, a mom, a nana, and a friend, unhindered by the confines of sickness.

I think, maybe, what I wanted was wrong.

I was wrong to want that for you, Mama. I was wrong to wish for different chapters. I was wrong to want a different book.

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Stories about you poured out of our community when we had to say goodbye. I heard you touted as a champion, a fighter, a believer, an encourager, and a dear friend. Your unwavering faith and matchless devotion to Jesus were proclaimed from every corner. There was no question of who you lived your life for and that you prayed all those you knew and loved would choose the same. You were undoubtedly a beloved woman in all aspects of your life.

And through it all, I couldn’t help but wonder if all the things that made you, you, were rooted in the pages I had so many times wished away.

If you would have loved as well, as deeply, or as completely if you hadn’t been challenged in the way you were.

If Jesus would have been your everything if your pages had read wellness and wholeness instead.

If you would have been as strong as you were if you didn’t have to fight the way that you did.

I might have wanted a different story for you, but I absolutely didn’t want a different mama.

And now? I’m not so sure that one could have existed without the other.

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Today, as I approach a Mother’s Day without you, I did not wake up grateful for the road you had to walk. I’m not strong enough to claim that. But I am grateful for who you were because of that road. I am grateful for your story. And I am grateful for the legacy you have left behind because of those pages.

You showed me how to love greatly, wholly, and loyally.

You showed me that motherhood doesn’t demand perfection, but instead just asks that you show up.

You showed me that family meals around the kitchen table are always worth the time.

You showed me that strength has nothing to do with size and everything to do with faith.

You showed me there are always joys to be found, even in our most challenging days.

You showed me Jesus has ordained our pages, and we must always trust Him with our stories.

You showed me a million different things, all of which have led me to this.

Your story was perfect, Mama, because it made you, you. And today, I wouldn’t be who I am without what you wrote into all of my chapters.

I can hear my girl babbling in her crib. She’s awake from her nap, joyfully chattering away. I go to her, she grins at me, and I thank Jesus for the sweet privilege of your shared birthday. A tiny piece of your legacyimprinted on her from her very first breath.

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Tonight, when I put her to sleep, I will pray that she is good and kind. I will pray that she is faithful and strong. I will pray that she loves Jesus in the way you did. I will pray, today and every day, that I see your legacy on each of her pages. And as the years slip and I see you show up in my girlin her character, in her joy, in her strengthI know it will be a beautiful story.

Lo Mansfield

Lo is a labor RN who left her patients for her own babies when her first daughter was born and her own mama died. She loves her baby girls and she loved her patients --> right now, she's living in the truth that she can't do both and that is 100% okay. She lives in Denver with her husband and two daughters, writing, mom-ing, grieving, running, and (maybe) figuring it out. You can follow her mama heart musings at The Mama Harbor and at her Instagram