My mother turned 57 last month. She turned 47 a decade ago -- two months before my father committed suicide. Deep down, I know it's a lesson in futility, but I can't tell you the number of times that I've played out conversations with my father in my head. And this year, right around her birthday, I found myself with a new topic on my mind.
We've all grown and changed and adapted since my father's suicide. We simply had no choice; it was something we had to do. One of the many things my father told us in his suicide note, which I've been able to bring myself to read only once or twice, was that my sister and I needed to take care of our mother. "She's going to need you," he instructed us.
It got me thinking: If only I could talk to my dad about this. There's so much I'd like to tell him. I figure it would go something like this...
Father, don't you realize just how utterly amazing and strong mom is? If only you knew all the things she's done -- by herself -- over the last 10 years. She sees every day as an opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of her students. For the last several years, she has led a Rainbows grief group, helping and supporting students who are grieving the loss of a parent. She's singled-handedly created a safe and nurturing environment where Rainbows members are able to share their feelings open and honestly. Her genuine heart, leadership and sense of service has shown in her personal commitment to the community as well. She's long believed in the beauty of helping others and is always there to lend a helping hand, loving heart or sympathetic ear. It's hard to measure her dedication and love. It's something you'd have to see. It's in the smiles of her students after she's helped them with an extra tricky math problem. It's in the warm hugs -- and warm cookies -- given to the sick in the hopes of a speedy recovery. It's all these things -- things that take some people a lifetime to achieve -- that are all in a day's work for her.
And she did all these things by herself. Of course, Janelle and I were there for her, but she did them. Maybe partly because of you. Maybe partly in spite of you. But it's a shame that you're not here to see all the wonderful things she's done because, really, she's quite the dynamo.