CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This is my first Mother's Day without my mother. These "firsts" are tough, and I know many of you are going through the same thing.
Whether it's been one year, five years or 20, lessons from our mothers (or early caregivers) tend to endure.
My father passed away 16 years ago, and I remember feeling totally numb after his death. There was all the activity in the beginning -- and extended family all around -- and then, about three weeks afterward, everything felt so empty.
I remember thinking, "Nothing I do today is of any significance." I wondered if I'd ever regain my zest for life. As clichéd as it sounds, time did heal some things. I'm now able to look back and remember my dad with more nostalgia -- and less sorrow.
It's funny, though. I didn't feel the same after my mom's passing -- right before the holidays. The circumstances after her death were similar. In fact, some extended family members were here for a month in that "November to Remember."
Right from the beginning I've felt that my mom is still with me. I feel her spirit all around me every day, and I've had lots of dreams about her -- all positive. I don't know if it's because I've already been through this with one parent, or whether I'm older now, or what. It's just different. And I feel good about it. Don't get me wrong. I miss her like crazy; it's just that I have more of a sense of peace -- and it hasn't taken years to emerge.
After Mom made her transition, I didn't have all those doctors' appointments, lab tests, grocery store and drugstore runs on her behalf. I had more time in my life, and a good friend cautioned me to be very careful about what I filled that void with, because it would be a shame to have this once-sacred time sucked away by the minutiae of the moment. I've done my best to follow this advice as a way of honoring Mom.
And speaking of honoring Mom, I'd like to share some words of wisdom compiled by my niece, Caity Craver, to remember her grandmother. Caity read this at my mom's funeral -- which we termed as a "ThanksLiving" service.
This truly is a celebration of one of my favorite people -- my friend, my mentor, my coach, my grandma (most recently upgraded to "GG" -- for Great Grandma).
Grandma was very wise. Through this wisdom she has taught me some of life's most important lessons. She taught me these lessons, not through lengthy lectures -- rather, by example. To recite everything she taught me would take too long, so here's a sampling: