Mother’s Best Friend
I woke with tear filled eyes. The room was still dark, implying it was still in the middle of the night. The soft, fluorescent glow of the digital clock on the night stand cast an eerie glow throughout the room, augmenting the strange emptiness I felt. I was confused as to the terrible sadness I was feeling. I lay there in the darkened room, weeping, attempting to smother the sobs of sadness within the folds my pillow.
It must be just before sunrise. The birds always began their songs a few minutes before the sun peeked over the horizon, and I heard the first melody being sung outside my bedroom window. I was not concerned of the time. I was concerned about me and the sadness I was feeling.
I could not even begin to describe the sadness I felt. It was a combination of feelings. Feelings of guilt, regret, sorrow and loss. Even though the sadness was indescribable by me, I did understand the reason.
It was May 12th, Mother’s Day.
In years past I would wake on this day, excited, anxious, and happy to be able to spend some time or at least some conversation with my mother. Even though I never needed an excuse to call my mom, it was this day that there was an understanding between the two of us. It was a day that we shared a few laughs, a few tears and generally some heart felt emotions. Sometimes it may be the whole day, sometimes a few minutes on the phone, but this day was set aside for me to express my love and gratitude for her. It was a day that was special for her and for me as well.
The conversations were always easy on this day. We would reminisce, laugh, and share what had always made us happy as mother and son. I would tell her how much she had meant to me and always end by simply saying, “I love you mom.”
She would always answer, “I love you too Jeff.”
That’s why I felt so depressed. My mother had passed away a year prior. I had an urge to call her…..to tell her once more how much she meant to me. To tell her one last time….. “I love you mom,” but that would not happen today.
I realize that it’s normal to feel the grief of the loss of a loved one, but this was different. I felt regretful. I was feeling as if I had left too much unsaid.
I lay there in bed, in the dark filled room and tried to calm my emotions. The birds began their singing in earnest and a few minutes later, the sun crept over the horizon. Sun rays bent their way through the thin slats of the blinds, painting horizontal amber stripes on the bedroom walls. I was hoping with the light of day, my emotions would ease, but the tears continued.
I wrestled with my emotions. I tried to rationalize that the grief I felt was normal, but even though the grief of the loss was bad, it was the regrets that had me in a turmoil.
An hour or two went by, and the sadness had not assuaged, I decided what I must do. I would do the next best thing to talking with my mom. I would talk with my mom’s best friend.
Mom’s best friend had been with my mother most of her life. They were the best of friends. It was a friendship built on respect, love and most of all dedication. My mother had always felt she could tell her friend anything and not be judged unfairly.
I was hoping that mom’s friend could ease some of the sorrow and regrets that I had. I’m sure mom would appreciate, me taking the time and making the effort to talk with the friend that she had loved so dearly.
I waited later in the morning before attempting to talk with mom’s friend. Would her friend remember me; wonder and say…why do you show up now?
“Hey…..this is Jeff…….Jeff Morgan….. Garnet’s son.” I said realizing the friend might not know who I was.
“Hi Jeff…..I know who you are……How are you?”
“Fine…I paused trying to collect my thoughts and the words…...Just thinking about Mom…..Mother’s Day and all……I thought it would be nice to talk with someone that had meant so much to her.” I said this and then realized how desperate I sounded.
“I know….. I was just thinking of her myself. How have you been?”
“Alright I guess….….. I miss her though.” I said and sighed.
“Yes…..I know…….I miss her too.”
There was a pause as if we were both waiting for the other to continue. I sensed my mother’s friend was waiting…..not because there was nothing to be said but was waiting for me to say what needed to be said. The friend appeared to receive my reaching out with blessedness. There was not a hint of surprise that I was there to talk. It was almost as if I had been expected.
“I loved her.” I said and began to tear once again.
“I did as well.”
“She loved you so much. You meant everything to her.” I said, stammering a little as I said it.
“She loved you too…..more than you will ever know.” The friend said with more sympathy than one could imagine.
“I miss her.” I said and waited.
“I do as well….but……….the memories……..they’re still there…….right?”
“Yes.” I said and then began to sob uncontrollably.
“She misses you too….I’m sure…..and she would not want you to worry……”
“I just don’t feel like she knew how much…..how much I appreciated her.”
“She did! You just didn’t know it.”
“I feel so bad that I didn’t tell her… you and her always seemed to know each other so well that for the most part….nothing had to be said….it was understood. I feel I just left too much unsaid.”
Her friend sighed and said, “The heart speaks louder than you think.”
Again there was a silence as we both digested all that had been said. It was a comfortable silence, as if we both respected each other’s ability to sort through the emotions
I spoke first….almost meekly….but it had been bothering me. “I was always somewhat jealous of you.”
There was a chuckle then an exclamatory, “Of me? Oh my” and another voiced smile.
I felt a little embarrassed I even brought it up…but truth be known….yes I was a little jealous.
I began to try to explain, “Mom would tell me about you…..the conversations..... the trust…the faith in each other. I just never felt like I achieved that with her.”
“She had faith in you…..she trusted you.” The friend said with assurance.
“How do you know?” I said and waited, hoping the friend had an answer.
“Because she told ME.” The friend said indisputably.
“But I didn’t spend the time I should have…..I feel like I ignored her in some ways, especially as I got older. I feel guilty because there were times…..and I hesitated, almost unwilling to admit…..that I felt she was a bother.” and again I broke down crying, more out of shame than anything else.
“No one ever has enough time to spend with the ones they love…..mainly because as we grow older…..we love more and more people. That’s life. It’s like trying to read all the classics in a library. They’re thousands. You pick and choose….and read a few…..hopefully….you enjoy. You chose the best you could. No one judges. Especially your mom. She did love you.” The friend said with a smile.
I thought about what mom’s friend had just said and I wished I could accept it. I realized that even though I at times made excuses because I did not want to be bothered with mom, I knew I loved her and I knew she loved me, and all the excuses…..the times I was too busy…..too wrapped up in my on family to spend time with her……maybe it was normal. “I could have done more.” I said and bowed my head in disappointment.
“Jeff……..don’t ever believe that you can earn someone’s love. Love is a gift. Love is something someone feels toward another because it’s what’s in their heart. It’s that spark of emotion that kindles a warmth within and it’s that warmth……the love….. that is simply shared. Gifts, favors, and even time are just tokens……..tokens that attempt to express the love felt. Understand that these tokens of love are not for the one you love……they are for you. They make you feel better about yourself……It’s simply your attempt to prove you’re caring to yourself. Probably the best way to show someone you love them…….is to simply say…… I love you.”
I thought once again about what had been said, and I began to understand, “but….mom….and you……were together a lot….She could always count on you and you could always count on her. Were those just tokens?”
“Oh no……….no those were not tokens……..that’s respect. Respect and faith in each other. Your mom could count on me because she had faith in me. I on the other hand could count on her because I had faith in her. She knew that when she was troubled…..a problem or whatever….that she could come to me because she had faith in me. She knew that I would tell her what was right and not necessarily what she wanted to hear. She had enough faith and respect in me to know I would be honest. Respect……faith…….they’re no doubt associated with the love one feels for someone but the love is not dependent on them. You can love someone and have very little respect or faith in them and keep in mind……that respect and faith have nothing to do with the tokens…….tokens such as time.”
I began to understand what the friend was saying and my emotions began to ease. There was a tone of conviction in the friend’s words that made it hard to argue or to doubt.
I thanked the friend for the conversation; that I appreciated the friend being there for my mother all those years, and for me as well. I left feeling relieved, the sorrow lessened, the guilt and regret silenced, and felt the warmth, the spark of love from my mother.
It had been an enlightening conversation. It had eased the sorrow, and diminished the guilt and regretful feelings that had consumed me earlier. I understood why the friend had been so important to my mother. The friend was understanding, non-judgmental, and compassionate.
My mom had always been extremely religious and spiritual. She found a peace within her faith that had always impressed me. I was raised in the church, read the bible regularly, and tried to live my life as a good Christian, but I never felt I had developed the faith, the relationship with God as my mother had. I often questioned my mother about this. She would smile and say that I had to learn to open my heart, have faith, and develop the relationship….the relationship with God. She would describe her conversations with God as if they were two friends, sitting over two cups of coffee, discussing the day’s events.
Today I too had that conversation. I spoke with her best friend……God.