The Letter

The Letter

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

The Letter

My mother was the making of me...
someone that I must not disappoint.
The memory of my mother will always be a blessing to me.
~Thomas A. Edison

The most pervasive memory I have of my mother is her long struggle fighting, and dying of, cancer during my adolescence. While it is my memory now, it was not my reality then. Like all good moms, she seldom allowed me to see the face of death. Instead, she wore a mask of humor and hope. In her final year, however, the mask was getting worn and transparent—the burden too difficult to carry.

Ultimately, one Mother’s Day weekend, alone, pen in hand, she decided to unleash the thoughts and feelings she had so carefully locked away behind the gracious façade. In an empty journal, she wrote what later became her most precious gift to me—a heartfelt message from mother to child. The letter is unfinished. Perhaps the flood of emotion was too overwhelming. I will never know. But this is what I do know.

I read this letter almost every year on the day she wrote it. Although my mother did not live to see another Mother’s Day, she continues to teach me through her well-crafted words.

As a teenager, her words said she was proud of me when I needed the affirmation. As a victim, something she knew a little about, her words were honest about her own struggle to cope and I no longer felt alone in my circumstance. My mother did not attend church. She did not want to feel hypocritical by seeking God in her final days, only when she needed him, she wrote. The closest she could allow herself to get was to volunteer at the local church nursery. There, she befriended the pastor, took notes and, I believe, came to know our loving God after all. In her transparency about her own pride, she taught me humility and planted her own seeds of faith in my life.

But the most powerful epiphany I had while reading the letter was on the Mother’s Day I discovered I, too, was going to be a mother. On this day, and every day since, the paradigm was changed. I was no longer the child, the victim, the student, but the mother—and, in fact, older than she was when she sat in her room and readied herself to pen this most incredible gift. As the tears streamed down my face, I experienced a shift in perspective. How difficult it must have been to write this letter, to tell your child you are not going to live. To try to summarize all that she means to you and all that you want her to know in a lifetime, all that is important to you, and all that you wish you had said but never did. The letter is unfinished. Of course it is.

My mother taught me to write—not the craft of it, but the value in it. Not for profit or fame, but so my child will know me not just through my actions and interactions, but through my words as well... someday, when I am no longer here to tell him myself.

Thanks, Mom.

~Kathy Marotta

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners