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My father left, my mother died…

Today is always difficult… 

I’ve been sitting here looking at this blank screen for hours. This blank screen that taunts me while I search for the words to express myself. Today is difficult, I imagine for the rest of my life it will be. And every time I go to click clack on this keyboard, I feel like the words aren’t right. I hit the delete button and again look at a blank screen, taunting me. A blank screen that may wind up being something beautiful; that may wind up telling an amazing story. A blank screen with potential that may neve be filled. 

I think of my mother like this, too – a half finished story. A story that had so much potential and beauty. But it was taken away before it could be finished. 

Today, June 15th, would have been my Mom’s 60th birthday. Tragically, she passed away 12 1/2 years ago. 

She was 47, way too young to have left this Earth. 

I was 18…just a kid. I was a Senior in high school who until that point my biggest worry was what college I was getting into and which girl I was going to ask to prom. 

God, it feels like forever ago, and yet I can tell you everything that happened January 11th, 2004. 

My Mom had her demons, her struggles. They damaged our relationship until I thought it was unrepairable. They made me move out at 16, and vow to never talk to her again. They were at the center of my mind when I brazenly told someone that if Mom didn’t clean up, she wouldn’t make it to see me graduate. I never wished more to be wrong. 

When my Mom was in her right mindset, she was the most amazing woman on the planet. She loved everyone she ever met. She never thought the worst of anyone. How fitting after the week we have had with Orlando that I would bring that up. Now more than ever we need more people who love like my Mom did. 

She never looked down at anyone for any of their flaws, demons, or struggles. Probably because she battled her own everyday of her life, she could empathize with these people better than almost anyone. I’ve shared the story before about how I walked in to her apartment one time, which was in a very rough complex in town, and she had 8 -10 people in her living room talking with them about her faith. That’s the kind of person she was deep down. She just wanted everyone to know that they at least had someone in their corner. 

She could have done so much good had she lived…so much unfinished… 

Thankfully, she had cleaned herself up the last 9 months of her life. The last 6 months she and I were in the rebuilding stages of our relationship. She was getting help and she was helping others. And then…it was gone. I was just getting my Mom back, and then she was gone. 

Legacy…

I’ve never met anyone who had a bad thing to say about my mom. Maybe that’s out of respect for me, but I doubt it. I think it’s because even through her flaws and struggles, my mother was a beautiful soul. She was a loving and caring woman who had a megawatt smile and the most infectious laugh. She loved passionately and was always there for anyone. 

I often wonder what she’d look like now. Maybe that’s weird, but I do. My Mom was stuck in the 80’s. I often wonder if I could have gotten her to at least upgrade her 80’s frames to 90’s frames. I wonder if she finally would have let her grey hair shine. She would have lost her mind seeing 20 somethings with grey hair on purpose! She never wanted anyone to see her with grey hair. I wonder if with her age if she would have put a few pounds on. I chuckle at the thought of my mom with grey hair, a little thicker with some new(ish) eyeglasses. 

I wish more than anything that instead of writing this about her, I could be telling this to her. I miss her always, but today is harder. It always is. 

I wish she would have had more time to finish her story. I know she could have done so much good for people…

…and so, as her son, I’m responsible for her legacy. I’m responsible to finish her story

Today, I will do my best to make her proud. I will smile more, love harder, and try to be the loving person my Mom was is. 

Her legacy lives on with me. Her story continues through me. 

And just like that, this screen isn’t as blank as I thought it was. 

If you still have your mom, hug her extra tight today. If you’re not in hugging range, call her. Let her know how much she means to you. Love people extra hard today. Do it for my Mom. 

Happy Birthday, Joanie. Thank you for being my Mom. 

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