I don’t know about you, but I think about my parents every day. Even if it’s just for a moment, they come to mind and I can’t help but wonder if they think of me as much as I think of them. For some of us, we are lucky enough to have two parents still alive and well and a means of visiting them anytime we want or if you still live with them, just coming home and sitting down for some family time. That is something I used to take for granted. I would hole up in my room all day, only to come out when I was hungry or for school. When I moved away, I would only visit every now and then, sometimes a month would go by and I hadn’t seen or called them. On one of the rare times I went to visit, an argument broke out between my mother and I. I was so upset, slammed the door, got in my car and never looked back. I went one year without speaking to them. A whole year.
At first it didn’t start out that way, I didn’t plan on leaving for a year. I didn’t plan on leaving at all, but because I had a bad habit of procrastinating and being selfish, I hadn’t thought about visiting them again. I didn’t feel that I needed to call them until after about a month, but I was so ashamed and didn’t know what to say because I didn’t want to bring up that fight we had when I last saw them. I also thought they would be furious with me. Disown me. I had always been the black sheep of the family so I figured I did them a favor. I wouldn’t be missed.
A lot goes on in a year. So many birthdays and holidays, traditions went by and I missed all of it. I felt like my parents died because I would never get to do those things with them again and my heart felt empty. I would never get the chance to see them again. I cried most nights as if I mourned their death.
Upon meeting new people, new friends, new coworkers I realized that all of my stories about who I am and how I came to be had my parents in them. Places I’ve been, skills I’ve learned, habits I’ve picked up mostly came from what they taught and shared with me. But when I realized that is all they would ever be, is just memories in my mind, I became depressed. I had no closure. My boyfriend always asked, why don’t you just call them? Or knock on their door? To me that was completely out of the question and as each passing month went by it only became more and more difficult because I knew that I only had one person to blame. There is a very hard pill to swallow and its one I’ve always had trouble with and that pill is called pride.
He suggested that I should write a letter. “Do what you do best and just be completely honest, you don’t even have to send it if you don’t want to.” He said. Writing has always made me feel better and so I followed his advice. I poured my heart and soul into this letter because I figured at this point I had nothing left to lose and I don’t have to send it but I can still have some closure in my mind. I recalled the story in the bible, the parable of the lost son, after being gone for so long, “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” While the father of this man had every right to be upset he said “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” And they celebrated. I prayed that I would be received in the same way.
The final draft of my letter sat idly by waiting to be sent but I failed to have the courage to do it alone. Alyssa, my niece, was the only one I had contact with from the family and she urged me not to let another day go by. My boyfriend knew how important this was to me so he sent it without my knowing. He says “I thought you wanted me to send it? Oh. I’m sorry, well it’s already been sent, I guess we just have to wait and see.” This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
It’s been a little over a year since the letter was sent and I got the call from my mother saying she’s received it and would like to meet again. In that time I have appreciated everything. Every little moment I spend with them I cherish because I got a second chance. When a parent passes away, there is no second chance, they are gone. I feel like I’m living on borrowed time. What person wouldn’t give anything to spend five more minutes with a mom or dad who has passed away? To relive a memory one more time? I get to do that. What I would once roll my eyes to, I now jump at the chance to do like garage sale hunting on a Saturday morning or movies at home.
I went for a visit this past week and played the piano at their house, a piano I thought I would never see again let alone get a chance to play. Dad hears the music and abandons the TV (which is kind of a huge deal because he never misses the late night news) and sits with me to listen, and what I once felt was an empty heart is now filled with joy to see him so happy and humming the melody. “Bravo!” He applauds. We take turns and he plays the songs I have been hearing him play since I was a child. Songs I don’t even know the title of and never thought I would hear again.
Sometimes there are problems only a mom can help you with. Mom’s hugs and words of wisdom have always been a place of comfort for me. When my garden blooms I think of her because without her I wouldn’t have known the beauty and tranquility that comes with maintaining a garden. She has always taken care of me from Dr.’s Appointments to piano lessons she has always wanted the best for me. I am so lucky to have had such a caring mother. I could sit and help her in her garden all day.
I know that I took them for granted in the past but I always want them to know how happy I am that they are just a phone call away. I don’t want others to go through what I had to go through to learn that lesson. So ask yourself, when was the last time you called? Don’t wait another day, just call to say hello because there may come a time you won’t be able to.