A letter to my mom – what I’d like my deceased mother to know

A letter to my mom – what I’d like my deceased mother to know

Dear Mom,

First, let me apologize for taking so long to write. It’s been 48 years since you left us. You, just 29, and me, just three and a half. This letter is long overdue.

I’m 51 now. It’s not a ripe old age but I’m certainly no spring chicken. I’m sorry that you never got to know what 51 was all about. I LOVE IT. Honestly, it took me until my mid-forties to get a handle on myself. Funny, I’ve always thought of you as a grown-up, but in hindsight, you probably would have done a whole lot more growing up if you’d been given half the chance.

I’m really sorry you died.

I’ve listened to you sing on tape and you had a beautiful voice. I’ve seen photographs of you in your bikini and you had a gorgeous figure. You rocked a beehive on your wedding day and you looked incredibly elegant when you smoked. People say I walk and talk like you. That we share the same laugh and that you laughed often. But I don’t have a whole lot more to go on than that.

I wish you weren’t a stranger.

Mark remembers you. He was eight when you passed away. Sometimes I envy the fact that he has his memory to go on. Other times, though, I think I got off lucky. Especially when it comes to Mimi. She married dad a couple of years after you passed. The poor thing went from zero kids to two kids over the course of a registry office wedding and a few finger sandwiches. I was young and I welcomed her with open arms. Despite becoming motherless when you passed, I have never felt motherless, and I’m thankful for that.

They say you left a gap.

Over the years, therapists tried to get me talking about the massive gap you’d left in my life, but I couldn’t tap into it. For a while, I didn’t believe them. I truly thought they were looking for something that simply wasn’t there. Then I had Anna.

As I reflected on the bond she and I shared by the time she was three years old, I thought about you a lot. About the bond you and I must have shared and about the gap you must have left, even though I could never quite put my finger on it. Mostly, though, I thought about how hard it must have been for you to know that you were going to leave me. Leave us.

I so wish that you had left me a letter.

I put myself in your shoes and imagined writing a love letter to Anna, so that if she, like me, ever had to look into the corners of her mind for memories of her mother, she would have no doubt that I had really existed and that I loved her. I tried to feel how you must have felt, knowing that you wouldn’t be able to see your role through to the end. To be a dying mom, I thought, might actually be harder than being the daughter of a mom who’s died. But if that was your experience, I shall never know because the letter never came.

When I eventually asked Dad why you hadn’t left a note, he said you hadn’t actually known you were dying. Your hospital records concurred that you had in fact never been told you had cancer. Your mother wouldn’t allow it. She was determined to keep you hopeful to the very end.

While you must have eventually realized your time had come, I take comfort in believing that you knew it just minutes or hours – not weeks or months – before you passed and that those painful contemplations you must have had around leaving us were short-lived. Just like you.

Love you always, Mom.

Your daughter, Viv xo

My mother passed away from breast cancer and for years I lived in fear that the same fate would befall me. Thankfully, I don’t have a story to tell about living with cancer, but I did write a few words about living without it.

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By |2018-01-15T10:46:57+00:00May 12th, 2017|20 Comments


  1. Tiffany Staples June 26, 2017 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Wow! How beautifully written and heartfelt. Thank you for sharing this!

    • THE WORDY MOM June 26, 2017 at 5:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks Tiffany.

  2. Deirdre June 26, 2017 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    This brought tears to my eyes. I love the idea understanding you got about what your mother must have went through once you had kids. Very sweet and very moving. Thanks for sharing.

    • THE WORDY MOM June 26, 2017 at 5:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks Deirdre. I maybe should have begun this post with a Kleenex alert. Glad you found it moving though.

  3. Sydney June 26, 2017 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    This is so sweet. I can’t imagine growing up without my mom. I’m sure if she had known she was about to pass she would have left a letter ?

    • THE WORDY MOM June 26, 2017 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      I’m sure you’re right, Sydney. While I grew up without ‘my’ mom, I’m so blessed a didn’t grow up without a mom. I adopted my step-mom as readily as she adopted me and am forever grateful that she came into my life.

  4. Jessie June 26, 2017 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    I’m in complete tears right now. I think you’re right…that it would be incredibly hard to be a dying mom. Wow, I can’t even imagine. What a beautiful letter.

    • THE WORDY MOM June 26, 2017 at 5:19 pm - Reply

      Sorry to make you cry, Jessie x

  5. Diana June 26, 2017 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    This was beautifully written! Now you got me thinking I should write a letter in case anything should happen to me. My daughter is only 6 months and the thought of her not knowing me breaks my heart!

    • THE WORDY MOM June 26, 2017 at 5:17 pm - Reply

      You know, it’s a nice thought Diana, regardless of what the future holds. You could write your dear daughter a letter every year and present them all to her when she turns 18.

  6. April Kitchens June 26, 2017 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Beautiful post. I know your mom is looking down on you.

    • THE WORDY MOM June 26, 2017 at 5:15 pm - Reply

      I like to think so, April 🙂

  7. Tee June 26, 2017 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    This has got to be one of the sweetest letters I’ve read recently! Honestly, I love how you put your thoughts into writing. Your mum would’ve been proud reading this – such a beautiful letter. I shed a few tears reading it. Beautiful!

    • THE WORDY MOM June 26, 2017 at 5:15 pm - Reply

      Your words are so kind and appreciated.

  8. Tea - Homeschooling with Tea June 26, 2017 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    Beautiful letter. Thank you for sharing with all of us. It reminds me that I need to share more with my kids.

    • THE WORDY MOM June 26, 2017 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      Indeed. Even if we all make it to 100, there will be a time when our kids will miss us and they will treasure such letters.

  9. Kristi File June 26, 2017 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    This brought tears to my eyes. Such an emotional letter. And so well written. Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life. xoxo

    • THE WORDY MOM June 27, 2017 at 6:46 am - Reply

      Thanks Kristi. For your comment and your own wonderful posts (one of which I’ve just shared on my facebook page) x

  10. Susan June 27, 2017 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Wow. That was beautifully written. She would have been so proud of you! <3

    • THE WORDY MOM June 27, 2017 at 9:46 am - Reply

      Thank you Susan <3

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