I stared at the empty notebook page where I was to summarize my mother’s life. Thirty-nine years of her being mine all tied together in a four-minute speech.
Her funeral was the next day. I just had to start with one word. Bracing myself for the heavy emotions and Kleenex by my side, I placed my pen down on the paper.
To my surprise, the words poured out of me effortlessly. My pen danced its way down the paper as I wrote about how much she meant to me.
How she would chase us down in the driveway after family dinners with Cool Whip containers of leftovers. This would prolong our goodbyes for another 10 minutes before she would stand at her door waving until we drove off.
I wrote about how her family meant everything to her.
I could hear her contagious laugh as I wrote about how she would get lost in the same mall we had shopped in for decades. We used to laugh until we cried when she could never find Sears. “It’s still by the food court, Mom.”
Her eyes lit up when her grandchildren barged through her door for sleepovers. I wrote about her making me text her confirming that I got home safely even into my 30s.
I wrote about her hugs. They felt like home.
As I read the final draft, something dawned on me. Do you know what didn’t make the final cut? When I sat there and reflected on my mother, not once did I think about the dishes in her sink or if she baked or bought cookies for my bake sale. I couldn’t remember what was in those boxes under the Christmas tree or if she kept the house spotless. Nor did I recall if she dressed perfectly for occasions or planned the best vacations.
All of this landed on the cutting room floor because when it’s all said and done, these things just aren’t the most important.
What could never be cut is how she made me feel.
How she just knew I was down after not being asked to homecoming and took me for ice cream to take my mind off it. How she was my biggest cheerleader until the very end. Her cool hand on my forehead when I was sick when she checked on me throughout the night. The stories she told me as I lulled to sleep.
And those hugs I miss so much.
So I ask all the mothers out there to think about when your children reflect on their life with their mother, what will make the pen dance effortlessly on that paper?
And what things do you stress so much about today that will ultimately end up on the cutting room floor?