There are few things in life that can render no words worthy of the subject matter. One of those things for me is talking about my mom. Today would have been her 58th birthday. I have so many nice things I could try to say about my mom and none of them would do her justice. She was truly such a wonderful mother and an amazing friend that I wish I could have known as an adult. My mom was diagnosed with cancer just before my 12th birthday… and the two years to follow would be a whirlwind of hospital visits, anxiety attacks (on my end), and trying to be a normal teenager when everything in my life was the opposite of “normal.” And my sisters were just 8 and 10 years old when all of this was going on. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy and I hope it’s the most horrible thing I’ll ever have to go through. My mom wasn’t ready to go. She loved her three girls so much and I remember her telling me just days before she passed that she was most afraid of missing us. Not of dying or being in pain but of missing her girls.

I remember the week that she died seeing her get out of bed, hobble to the kitchen, and sow my sister’s spring concert outfit back together. I remember her visiting with and trying to make light of the situation with her many friends that came to visit her in her last few weeks. Her best friend told me recently, “She had her sense of humor to the very end.” I can really only remember my mom crying two times in her two year battle with cancer. Once when she told us, and once when she was lying in a hospital bed asking “Okay, what’s the next step?” and having her doctor tell her “I’m afraid that there’s nothing more we can do.” My mom was so strong and so unobviously sick by the way she carried herself that in moments of her breaking down like she did that night, it was just absolutely terrifying. Everything was so wrong. My world was so dark and stained with life’s cruelest tricks that there are monthlong stretches of my 8th grade year that I just don’t remember.

I remember my friends, how I was afraid to tell them what was going on. I remember wanting a shoulder to cry on but having none. I remember the phone calls, text messages, and my few close friends that came to see me the days she died. I remember my best friend Melissa calling me at 5:30 in the morning and us just crying together for 10 minutes on the phone. I remember the roses Thokeina brought me and how beautiful and bright they looked in my window sill when everything else in my life was so black. I remember the hugs. I remember the fear of forgetting what her voice sounded like. I remember her first birthday passing and being filled with regret for opportunities missed. I remember scouring my computer files trying to find every single picture I could. I remember holding in all my tears at her funeral until the part where my aunt got up and read what my littlest sister had wrote for her: “My mom was always really nice, and she always helped me with my homework.” My mom was selfless and bright and brought sunshine into the room with her everywhere she went and I wish I could be just like her but I fail in so many ways. Sometimes I think God gave me a better than average mom because I would only have her for such a short time. I can’t believe that many moms are as great as she was. These pictures are all I have to remember her by. This is why I’ve thrown everything I am into capturing other people’s memories. Because I don’t have very many of them myself. But I can still feel her and everything she was through these few pictures I have.

She loved her family more than anything else in the world.


She loved to have a good time and didn’t take life too seriously…


She loved her daughters…


And she loved to smile.


My mom has made me who I am. She’s made me a perfectionist, a lover, a fighter, a leader for my family. Losing her at 13 years old made me even more so those things. When people have joked about me being like an old lady I’m pretty sure it’s because I basically became a mother in the midst of a tragedy when I was so young. It’s made me see life through an entirely different set of lenses. I see a world where things can be beautiful but for only brief and fleeting moments in time. Where good things can end even sooner than they began but it’s a place where when things ARE good, they’re really really good. Life is shorter than most people realize. People can be here one day and gone the next before you can pick up the pieces of your last argument up off the floor. God brings people together for a reason and we’re meant to pour into each other with all out love while we still can. We make mistakes but we apologize quickly and forgive even quicker. Because life is beautiful but the people that fill yours up are even more so. And so I remember my mom and her legacy of love that she left behind and I try to keep that at the forefront of my mind every single day. Days like today are hard but they’re just a more real and raw version of her legacy. Happy 58th Birthday, Mom. If you were here, just for today, I’d take you out from dawn to dusk and we’d just talk and I’d get your advice on the many parts of my life I tend to mess up. I’d laugh with you at your sarcasm and dry humor and way of seeing something funny in every situation. I’d tell you how much I’ve missed you and your smile and I’d soak up as much of your wisdom as I could in the little time we’d have together. And I’d invite all of my friends and everyone I love so they could experience being with you too and go home and hold their moms a little tighter and remember how life is too short to let opportunities go by… to love someone a little deeper, to reconcile a friendship, to appreciate every moment you have with someone you love. That’s what I’m reminding myself of today and hoping everyone else in my life would remember the same.

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
Psalm 103:2 Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Ephesians 5:15-17 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

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