For me, Mother’s Day is a reminder of two people missing in my life, two mothers. Cancer took these two women from my life, my mother, Maura and my younger sister, Maura.
I lost my mother when she was just 56 years old. She immigrated from Athlone to Boston as a young woman. She lost her mom and went to America to a distant relative to start a new life. She hoped and dreamed of a wonderful life in the land of opportunity. I wish I could say she got that wonderful life, but she didn’t.
I miss my mother every day and wonder if my life would be different if she lived. When you get married and start a family, there is always a missing piece. I wonder what my mother would have thought if she was with me. What advice would she have given me?
There are so many times I wish I could talk to her and ask her a question or get her advice. But I cannot, and nothing can change that. She did leave me one gift which I cherish. Before she died, she wrote letters to my siblings and me, and we found them after she died. It is all I have from her along with my memories of her kindness and generosity.
My younger sister was taken from us five years ago at just 43 years old. She left behind two little girls who brought her joy and made her life complete. Maura was an inspirational woman. She fought cancer for ten years and never complained.
She was diagnosed one week after giving birth to her second daughter. From that point, she dedicated her ten years to making memories with her family. She wanted her girls to have happy memories, so she took loads of pictures and made scrapbooks for them. A few years before she died, she asked me about recording a video for her daughters so they would have it following her death. She was afraid she couldn’t do it without crying throughout the recording but knew how much a video would mean to her girls.
Maura was my best friend. Even though we lived an ocean apart, we were in touch nearly every day. We shared stories, jokes and memories of our childhoods. I couldn’t believe Maura got cancer. It seemed so unfair that cancer took our mother and now was trying to take my sister too. But neither cancer or life is fair.
Losing my mother and then my sister tested my faith. I want to believe I will see them again and that they are looking down on us. It is the only way I can deal with the vast hole that remains in my heart.
So, if your mother is still with you, cherish her every day, not just on Mother’s Day. Ask her questions. Learn about her life, her hopes and dreams. Have conversations now as you may not get a chance later. Hug her and tell her that you love her. Remember the words of this great Irish folk song by Thomas P Keenan: