Week Two: Saturday
Today marks the sixth anniversary of my mother’s death. Catherine H. Rice, as she always called herself, was 94 when she died due to complications from Parkinson’s and dementia. Her illness was what a friend accurately called “the long goodbye” as this woman who was once the matriarch and centerpiece of the house slowly gave up control of so, so much.
Dec. 12. I still remember how I felt at that time, not knowing if I would be opening a Christmas card or a sympathy card when I gathered the mail. I recall feeling mocked by the Christmas cards full of joy that wished me a “Merry Christmas,” knowing there would be nothing “merry” about this particular Christmas. My mother wasn’t perfect—just as I have not been a perfect mother, myself—and our relationship was a mixed bag, but she was still my mother, the one who knew in her heart that I existed when she first felt me stir in her womb. Rarely a day has gone by since her death when I haven’t missed her.
Perhaps the biggest gifts my mother gave me were introducing me to a sense of Mystery and Awe, a holy reverence, found in God and a belief in the Light. She used to share a story with me at Christmas about a car ride in my childhood when my parents took us to see Christmas lights. Mom said that each time I saw a house lit up, I cried out excitedly, “Look! They believe!” I don’t recall that episode, but my mother did, and to this day I do love the light and taking drives to see the houses aglow, aware of a deep-hearted recognition that yes, I do believe in the Light, even in the darkest of days. Looking back, that was the true message from that mixture of Christmas and sympathy cards: the Light shines on.
Author Edith Wharton wrote, “There are two ways to spread the light: One is to be the candle; the other is to be the mirror.” In regard to the Light, my mother was the candle. As I light many candles in remembrance of her this day, may I continue to be the mirror. Blessings to you.