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  • Writer's pictureSarah Nantel


a letter from my mom

My heart goes out to all the families affected by the wild fires in Fort McMurray. So many people are experiencing absolute devastation. Their homes and neighbourhoods completely destroyed and they have lost everything. I know that safety is always the number one priority and obviously lives are way more important than tangible items. But I don’t think we should disregard how important some things are to us too. How do you put a value on those sentimental objects?

It got me thinking about the contents of my home. If my home was on fire, and I could save one thing, what would it be? What’s something that no amount of money could replace? After only a moment’s thought I decided it would be a letter from my mother…

In 2001, my last year of high school, our chaplain asked our parents to secretly write us a letter. Those letters were delivered to us at our overnight graduation retreat. I remember my entire class being in tears reading these heart-felt words from our parents.

My letter went into a cardboard box during our move from Ontario to Alberta and that’s where it stayed for the past 8 years. That is until my mom died last year. I knew that the letter was in our basement storage room, but I had no energy to dig it out. I wanted to read her words again but I just couldn’t do it. Emotionally, I was not ready for what it said.

Last Mother’s Day, two months after she passed, I finally found the courage to find the letter. I missed her and I was ready to feel a connection again. I remember my heart catching in my throat when I pulled the card out: an angel dropping hearts down from heaven to earth.

On four handwritten sheets of lined paper, she begins by talking about how much she missed her mother while raising my brothers and I. My grandmother passed before my parents had even married. Being a mother, without a mother, is a sad commonality that my mom and I now share. She also talks about how she felt while being pregnant with me and how proud she’d been watching me grow into a young woman.

Motherhood has made me appreciate her so much more. Some days when I feel like I’m doing everything wrong and I just want to call her and say, “Mom, this is really hard. Thank you.” Because only a mother can understand what it’s like to give all you have all day, every day. Sometimes what a mother really wants is just acknowledgement.

A couple weeks ago, I read a blog about grieving the loss of a mother and in it the writer said, time heals the faults and love fills in the cracks. My mom was far from perfect but I like to believe that she did the best she could. The last few words from my mom are: “Have a happy life, my darling. You deserve it! Love always and forever, Your Mother.” This letter means more to me than anything I own. Although it is still incredibly hard for me to read, I just appreciate her honesty and her love in her words.

So, what would you save?

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