21: Mom Knows Best

21: Mom Knows Best

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

Mom Knows Best

Even as a small child, I understood that women had secrets, and that some of these were only to be told to daughters. In this way we were bound together for eternity.

~Alice Hoffman, The Dovekeepers

I had been sitting by her bed for over an hour, just watching her sleep. In the last few days, even this was a gift. I was thankful for each extra moment she was with us, sleeping or not. I realized it was almost noon, so I got up quietly and headed toward the door to make lunch for my boys.

“Kimberly,” she said.

Surprised, I turned around quickly. She was awake and looking right at me!

“Hey, Mom! How are you?”

She smiled at me lovingly and instead of answering my question, she said clearly, “I was thinking we need to have a sign.”

My heart smiled and cried at the same time. My mom knew that I would continue to need her, but she also knew her time here was almost up. She was still thinking of me, boundlessly loving, even in her last days.

I replied, “Yes, Mom, we do.”

I hoped that there was some truth to “signs,” as I had always questioned things like that before. I figured there must be some kind of explanation. I knew that if a “sign” ever really did happen to me, it would need to be very obvious to break through my skepticism.

She continued on quickly, like she had already given this some thought. “Whenever you lose an earring, know that I am with you. Remember how much I love you. Think about what is going on in your life and what I am trying to tell you.”

Hmm, I thought to myself . . . an earring? I rarely lose earrings. My mom and I always gave each other earrings for gifts, but I couldn’t remember the last time I lost one. I remembered hearing people say they had experienced signs like birds or sunsets, so I was definitely thinking more along those lines than an earring! Anything that happened a little more regularly than losing an earring once every couple years would have been great! An earring seemed like such an unnatural, material thing — if a “sign” were real — how could it have anything to do with a worldly thing?

In just the few seconds it took me to think of other ideas though, she dozed back off to sleep. “Mom?” I said loudly. but she was out. Why in the world an earring? I decided that the next time she was awake and alert I would mention it so I could change the sign. I now had a list of them that I was sure would be much better.

The days went on however, and there was never another opportunity to bring it up. She passed away a week later. I thought about this “sign” conversation a couple times in those first few days without her, and was disappointed we never got to come up with something else.

On January 8th, two days after her funeral, my husband, our three boys, and I loaded into the minivan for the six-hour trip home to Pennsylvania. It was a hard ride home, filled with many tears. We had all been in New York for the last month, and the drive home now felt painfully final.

My husband and I talked about weird things we wished we didn’t have to, like what kind of vessel we could use for my mom’s ashes. Our family had decided on cremation, so my brothers and I needed to find something small for each of us to keep some. I was really quite unsettled about the whole ashes thing, and found it quite odd. Now, we were driving along, asking questions like “What in the world do we put them in?” and “What could I possibly find that would be special enough for her ashes?”

An hour or two from home, I remembered a little box that my mom had given me years ago. It was made from some kind of stone, and the top had a carving of a woman holding a flower. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it would be perfect for her ashes. It was from her, small, pretty, special . . . just right. Assuming I still had it, that is. It had been years since I even opened it, and I couldn’t remember the last time I saw it.

Pulling into our driveway, the finality of her death suddenly became more real. I fought back tears as I thought about the fact that my mom would never again be coming to our house. She would no longer be opening her passenger door as the boys nearly tackled her with hugs. She would no longer be smiling at me as she walked up to our porch, ready with some compliment that instantly made me feel treasured.

As I opened the front door, I felt as if I just arrived home from a different world. A world I never wanted to be a part of, but a world that now seemed more normal than my quiet, foreign home. The trauma that my family and I had gone through in the last month suddenly became real. Even though the kids and my husband were there buzzing around, talking and unpacking, I felt completely alone.

I stood in our doorway fighting back tears, then remembered something that felt more normal than this house right now . . . finding the box for the ashes. Just hours ago it was weird, and now it was the only thing that felt right. Instead of unpacking or starting dinner for our hungry kids, I headed directly upstairs to my room on a mission.

I found the box quickly. It was sitting on our bathroom shelf, covered in a nice layer of dust.

“Perfect,” I thought, as I grabbed it, relieved it was still around. I opened it to check what I would need to dump out to replace with her ashes.

Instant tears flooded my eyes. I fell to the ground as I held the open box in disbelief, now crying while simultaneously laughing hysterically.

There, in this box that hadn’t been touched in years, were twelve missing earrings of mine from the last fifteen years or more! Earrings I had forgotten all about! Some of them had been missing so long that I had already thrown out the single one left behind.

As I sat on our bathroom floor, I thought back to what she had said. “Remember that I love you, and know that I am with you.” Holding those earrings, I realized that somehow in this new scary world, without my mom next to me, I was not alone. I felt hope knowing that somehow, however this crazy stuff works, she really is still with us.

~Kimberly R. Sokolofsky

More stories from our partners