When my mom first got sick, she said, "I hope you can eventually remember me before all this," and I didn't understand. But sure enough, during those first years of grief, the images of her suffering, of all the indignities she had to endure, were a repeating movie reel in my mind. Today, though, as I drove to work, I could see my mom setting out the candy hearts for me and my sister in the kitchen of our childhood. I could see all that she did for us. Candy hearts on Valentine's Day, Christmas presents under the tree, exasperated silence when I was being a brat during my teenage years. I can picture her clearly turning off my music on the radio in the car and insisting on silence, saying "My nerves can't take it," and I am perhaps as grateful for that memory now as I am for any thoughtful gift she gave us as I daily turn off the "Dude Perfect" YouTube videos that my son likes to watch.
As I drove this morning, I saw my mom in all the normal times, the before she was sick times, and I thought of something one of my mom's closest friends, a friend whose heart I know was breaking too, wrote to me after the funeral: "Your mom's great love is not gone. It is yours now, to share with your family and those you love. It is in you." She was right. I am grateful.