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A letter from my late mother
3 min read

A letter from my late mother

I have to admit, never in a million years would I have predicted that the first (non-intro) post here at this new domain would be about my late mother, and not some nerdy tech or science thing, but here we are.

Today I was cleaning out the closet in my home office and came across something I'd kept tucked away in my heart and mind for many years, but had read just once.

A few months after my mom passed in 2003, I got a birthday card from my grandma. In addition to her usual writing that takes up all available space on the card, there were two sheets of yellow paper folded a few times and secreted inside.

Halfway into my grandma's essay, she told me that these sheets of paper were given to her by my mother, to be given to me after she was gone. They were written just a few months before she died.

I found that birthday card today, and for the first time in over 15 years I read it and its contents again. I don't know why I didn't just put it in the box with the other memories, as I'd done a few times before. Maybe it's the chaotic situation we're all in right now. Maybe it's because my dad passed away less than a year ago. Maybe I've dodged my medications one too many days in a row.

Maybe it's all of those things. Maybe it's none. I really don't know. But this time I read it. I pored over her rushed words, often inscrutable but for their being near others not flecked by her dried tears.

And for reasons I can't pretend to know or understand, I've decided to share it here. Maybe it'll help someone out there trying to cope with death, or self-confidence, or self-loathing, or just this crazy, crazy world.


My Dear Justin,

I don't know quite what to write to you at this most auspicious time. Nothing seems good enough, precious enough, appropriate enough to describe accurately how I feel. I've been pondering for days how to let you know how I feel, and continued to stop myself from writing because I couldn't find the card, the words, the ultimate gift. I just decided to stop trying and just be good enough.

For sure, I never fathomed I would be the mother of such a unique, intellectual boy child with a heart of gold and the ability to express his essence so exquisitely. A sensual, caring man who can fulfill his dreams while being loved by everyone who knows or meets him.

I don't know why God has honored me so with the title of being your mother, but I am and will be forever grateful. You truly live what I've tried to teach you: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I have never heard of any human being who doesn't love and admire you, yet you remain humble, open-minded, accepting of all who cross your path. My words of wisdom that I might impart to you now are null and void, for you already know and are living them.

Needless to say, you have only yourself to limit you. You are your harshest critic, and you are brutal. Please show yourself the kindness you always show to others.

So do you wish for me to count the ways I love you? Perhaps I could try to list all I am proud of you for? I can't come up with the words to suffice, a way of letting you know all that is in my heart and mind. You are so indescribably beautiful in every way.

I'm sitting here crying with joy, happiness, and pride, and feeling helpless to say enough or do enough to let you know/feel my love of you.

Did you know I worried when you were born if I could be a good enough mother for you? Guess my fears were unfounded, stupid, and comical. What a waste of my energy in even being concerned about what kind of person you would turn out to be. Silly, silly me.

"Enough," I know you're saying, but mothers get extra chances at loving their kids, for they know times can be good and bad. And when you hit a fork in the road, or a boulder, you can lean on their love. Unconditionally, always and forever.

You and your brother have been throu... You've had a lot taken from you and seen and experienced things no one should ever have to, especially such a sweet child. And yet you strive. You can't help it.

Remember, I chose you to be my son, and you chose me to be your mom for a reason. It's called love. Never to be forgotten or taken for granted.

It's been 23 years and the world still isn't ready for you, my son.


I know, right? 😢 I mentioned that there were actually two sheets of yellow paper in my grandma's card. The first was the note above. The second was this short poem:

When I had feelings inside me
and the feelings didn't have any words,
you understood.

When I had choices to make, you helped me decide in your own quiet way.

You gave me you so I could become me,
And I love you for it.


ANYWAY, I promise to get back to my regularly-scheduled programming with the next post.

Hitting "publish" before I change my mind! 🙈

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