93: An Enduring Love

93: An Enduring Love

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom

An Enduring Love

Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I’ve faced many tragedies in my life, but none as overwhelming as the death of my mother. She passed away a couple of years ago, and my life hasn’t been the same since. But from this loss has come a realization that I didn’t think would come so quickly to me: I haven’t really lost her at all.

Mom had been chronically ill for quite a while, but she was a courageous woman, possessed of an inner strength and a positive outlook that enabled her to have many more wonderful years with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren than the doctors had predicted. Many wonderful memories and tender moments came from those years, and we were all grateful for them.

But Mom’s passing left a huge hole in my life, one that seemed impossible to fill. My wife and I had cared for my mom for several years, sharing the good days and helping her through the bad ones. We came to learn how, when you truly love someone, being there for them when they need you the most is the reason we are all here on earth. When she was no longer there, it seemed as if a part of my heart had been torn away.

My mom, however, always lived with great cheer and happiness. She would never have spent a moment holding onto sadness when there is such great reason in life for joy. In the dozens and dozens of pictures I have of her with our family, her friends and the people she’d known and loved in her life, she had a heartfelt and genuine smile in almost every one of them. She taught me to find the good in life, in people, and in all that we do.

Soon after Mom’s passing, my brothers and sister, my wife and kids, and everyone in our family began to spend more time together. We had always been close, but now it seemed as if there was a great need to get to know each other better. It was as if we had come to recognize there was now a great emptiness in our lives, and we had decided to honor our mother’s memory and our love for each other by taking on the roles that she had so often played in the past.

The first time we celebrated a holiday without her, I expected it to be a sad occasion. Without my mother there, how could any occasion be happy? But somewhere deep inside me, I seemed to hear my mother’s laughter, and feel her joy at all of us coming together again to celebrate life and each other. I realized she would never want her memory to be full of sadness, but of love and happiness. As I looked at the faces of the family I loved, I suddenly saw her face in all of theirs. We celebrated that day with my mom’s spirit in full attendance.

Shortly afterward, I went to visit my mom’s grave. My sister had planted flower bulbs in the ground around her headstone, and over the cold, hard winter, they had worked their way up through the frozen soil. They stood unfurled in the sun, their colors bright and cheery, reflecting the happiness I knew Mom would have felt knowing that her family had remained close. The memory of her glorious and loving spirit had shown us the way.

Even though there are days when I look around and miss her laughter and seeing her smile at the sight of her children and their families being together, that same laughter can be heard in the voices of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I know that the love she so selflessly and gladly shared with us all her life will live on forever in her family.

My mom is still close, watching over us and loving us. Her spirit will always be a part of me, guiding me and showing me the way to better care for those I love. I know that every time I want to feel her arms around me again and make me feel that all is right with the world, all I have to do is wrap my arms around the people I love, and care for them with the joy and happiness she always shared with me.

~John P. Buentello

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