Open letter to my mother

July 25, 1997

Dear Mom,

I’m trying to write you this letter, but I fail to find a constant stream of thought and the perfect articulation of words to paint an accurate picture of what 19 years has been like without you. It’s impossible to express the loss of a parent at the infantile age of 21. Legally, an adult, but so far from being prepared for the true realities of life.

Did 19 years really go by? 21 is too young. 21 is too young to lose you. I had so many expectations of moments we were to share, and advice you were to impart on me. Even thinking back now, I find myself rejecting the stream of events that unfolded. The diagnosis. The expected time remaining. The treatment. The end. It all went wrong, and you were stolen from me, our family, your husband – our world.


Every day I miss you to my very core, and every day I find solace and comfort in the strength I have from you, the care for others you instilled in me, the values by which you’ve raised me and how I live by them daily. I find peace and calm from those very things, because that is the only way I can get through a day knowing that you’re not here.

I fear I’ll forget pieces of you, as I desperately grasp onto our every word, touch, glance, laughter, learning. I have memories but they’ve softened over time. Have I filled in the the gaps accurately? Have some memories slipped through never to be remembered again?

The weight of these thoughts could collapse a person’s reality, and they have from time to time, but an attitude of unbridled gratitude for the constants in my life have been my saviour. They provide a euphoric lightness that grounds and surrounds me daily and has allowed me to find inspiration and positivity in all areas of my life.

The path I’ve chosen at each turn and crossroad ahead of me may not have been what we had originally imagined or planned, but I know you’d be proud and happy for me. I’ve surrounded myself with the best people who inspire, appreciate, and care for me. I come home to shared love, laughter, and support from a man who is my forever. I think it’s everything you had ever wanted for me as a parent.

So, today, in your memory, I paid tribute to you the best way I know how. I climbed a mountain, as I have in previous years, and let the air fill my lungs. The struggle and effort of each step was muted by the magnitude of the grief from the loss of you.

Your youngest daughter,