Hard & True

Four years ago today, I saw my mother for the last time. I held and stroked her hand. I listened too intensely the sound of her breathing.

I was 28 and my brother was 11. She had just celebrated her 48th birthday four days earlier. In the late hours of the evening, she died as a result of cancer that had begun in her lungs and metastasized into her bones and brain.

My mother was such an important and complete part of my life that nothing could have prepared me for her absence. I often lived far from her in terms of distance, but she was always a phone call or email away; even when I went off to college and studied abroad, she bought a toll-free number so nothing would prevent our weekly chats.

Photocollage of Mum, my brother and me

Lyrics: Laura Nyro, To A Child

The first couple of years after her death, I had a lot of difficulty seeing past her absence and I definitely turned to art as a means to find my way out of the subsequent depression and to explore who I was now, not only as a motherless daughter, but also as a parent—my husband and I have been raising my brother, now a high school student.

Photocollage of Mum, my brother and meThe loss is still deep today, but, having traveled some miles through my grief, I am also able to appreciate the ways she is still with me, the gifts she so lovingly bestowed upon me. I feel a connection to her with every rainbow in the sky, every purple item in my possession (too many to count; purple was her favorite color and, if you look closely in one of the photos above, you’ll even see a purple tint to her hair!).

What confidence I have in myself is rooted in the utter faith and support she showed me; she raised me to believe I was awesome, and I know not every girl gets that message growing up.

Looking through these photos and many more photos Tuesday night, I appreciate all the smiles and goofs we shared—not just Mum and me, but also with my brother, my cousin, my friends, whoever else was willing to share in the joy. My mother approached life with enthusiasm and gratitude; her constant quest was to “Let’s go see what we can see.” I inherited that curiosity and joy and hope I’m passing it on to my brother, too.

Among her belongings, I found a mother’s day gift book that I had filled in for her with my words and drawings around the time when I was 8. It’s a little heartbreaking:

If I had 3 wishes for you...

So, today, I remember that not all our wishes, however deeply felt, come true. You can pick up that penny, crack that wishbone and search for a shamrock, but there are no guarantees. We have only today, so let’s go see what we can see.

Thanks for reading!

Published in quotes, true life stories on Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tags:  , , , ,


  1. Tammy
    Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at 10:06 am | Permalink

    As a motherless mother, I understand. Thank you for these words today.

  2. Jancie
    Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I know that she is smiling on you every day. I, too, miss her very much, and often think, “I need to talk this over with Pam.” I see strengths in myself today that she helped me find in a time when I needed encouragement and guidance. She saw that need, and sought out opportunities to talk with me. I would give a lot to have one more “let’s have coffee together” chat with her.

    We are both very lucky to have had her in our lives, and that makes me smile.

    Love you lots!

  3. Jackie
    Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Oh man, that little gift book is totally heartbreaking. It’s so sweet though!

  4. Kathy
    Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting such beautiful photos of dear Pam. I too am a motherless mom. You are in my thoughts dear girl.
    PS I even saw myself in one of those photos!

  5. Henry
    Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    There is a time in every parent’s life when offering their two cents worth, that they pray their child does not hand them back change. But your memories today are ONE SHINY PENNY. Thanks

  6. Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    What a special tribute to your mom … And what a inspiring legacy in the making.

  7. Kathleen
    Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    <3 to you on this a day of your will & strength being testeed. Ive known you since the day you were born. You are a mirror image of your sweet Mom. You are the next generation of strong Thome girls. You are in my prayers Angel. How appropiate your name.

  8. Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    My greatest fear is leaving my children before they are ready. I really felt this post. Thank you for sharing. <3

  9. Jainnie
    Friday, January 14, 2011, at 11:46 am | Permalink

    That’s so, so beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. Your words struck a chord in me. Thank you. xoxo

  10. Thursday, January 20, 2011, at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    This is such a touching tribute to your dear mom. I’m sorry you didn’t have more time with her :( Your brother is so lucky to have you and your husband!

    Hugs from a brotherless (now) sister.

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