My beloved Mom, it is impossible to image that it has been five years since I last held your hand, heard your sweet voice, or felt the warmth of your embrace. It has passed in the blink of an eye, yet also seems like an eternity. Perhaps it is because so much has changed over the past few years, not to mention the collective trauma the world is going through.

Lately I have been thinking about how you would find it hard to recognize the world that you left only half a decade ago. You would see us trying to emerge from a global pandemic that has consumed the past two years of our lives. You would have found me in the freezing rain and snow on a cold January day, lined up outside for over four hours with hundreds of other people trying to get an immunization shot at a pop up clinic. You would see news filled with heartbreaking images of destruction and despair as war breaks out in Europe, national unrest at home, and the cost of living reaching the outer limits of reason.

You would also be filled with love and gratitude for the many wonderful things that have unfolded for your family. Your children are well and continue to be successful in their lives, and your beautiful granddaughter has convocated with her PhD. You have become a great grandma to a gorgeous little girl named Ellie, who would undoubtedly be the pride and joy of your world. You are remembered often, and with much love. Recently I was chatting with a cousin who was reminiscing about how you treated them with so much kindness when they were growing up. I still begin every day by saying “I love you Mom”. It is a void that will never be filled, a scar that will never completely heal – a precious wound of the heart.

These two parallels are what life is all about. Beauty and sorrow, love and loss, hope and pain, light and dark. After five years I am in a place filled with gratitude that I had a Mom that made me feel so loved and special, and who I loved with all my heart in return. Even though I wish that cancer had never entered our world and Mom was still with us, I now appreciate that our relationship can’t be measured in years but in depth. We could complete each others sentences, laugh for hours, and talk about anything. Mom called me on the New Year’s Eve before she passed away, and I had just enough drink in me to be totally honest, letting down the brave front I was putting on. Finally, I just bawled and told her that I felt so helpless, that I wished with all my heart that I could take the cancer for her. She quietly listened, let me cry, and reassured me as her own life was slipping away. She was gone just two months later.

I was having a down moment recently, when I was filled with calm and hope by a single thought – one day I will get to be with Mom again. I don’t mean that in a morbid way at all, but more in a wonderful, transcendent way. Death cannot take away that amazing connection of heart and soul. Just when I need it most, Mom still seems to be there, reminding me that she is not gone. She is just watching and sending love from the other side.

Mom, five years later I find myself celebrating your life today instead of grieving your loss. That is because I now know that your love will always shine on, and that we never really say goodbye. Just farewell, until we will see each other again. From the moment we are born, we have begun our journey back into the light. I love you Mom, always.

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