403 Forbidden

403 Forbidden

403 Forbidden

Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Remembering » Remembering


MCQ - June 1, 2011

As we passed Memorial Day this week, I found myself thinking of the people I have lost the last few years. I lost my secretary several years ago, who died young of lung cancer (she was a smoker), I lost my uncle, who died in his sixties of complications related to birth defects, I lost a dear friend who committed suicide after a lengthy battle with bipolar disorder, I lost a grandfather and a grandmother (one from each side) who were both in their nineties, a friend’s family (his wife and two children) died in a car accident, and I lost my mother. Each of these deaths was very different and affected me in different ways. I spoke at the funerals of my uncle, my grandfather and my mother, and was happy to be able to honor them. My grandparents were old enough that there was nothing really sad about their passing, other than the fact that we cannot visit them now. They were ready to pass on and had said so many times, so we were able to celebrate their lives and talk about their great qualities and why we loved them. It was difficult and heart-breaking to attend the funerals of those who died young and unexpectedly. I don’t know if I will ever fully understand my friend who committed suicide. It seemed to me that he had everything to live for, but I’m told that there’s no way to understand the power of that particular mental illness over those who suffer from it, so all I can do is just be grateful that I knew my friend while he was with us.

Of all these deaths, however, the one that affected me most profoundly by far was the death of my mother. I’m still struggling with it in some ways.  At the time, I knew I wanted to speak at her funeral and try to express some of what I was feeling, but I was not up to the job.  I couldn’t even put my thoughts in any kind of order, or really get anything down on paper.  I wrote her obituary, and helped organize the funeral, and those things seemed to take up all the available time between her death and when I found myself standing at the pulpit at her funeral.  I thought that some things would come to me, but they didn’t.  As much as I wanted to be there for my mom, I just couldn’t shake the fact that I didn’t want to be there at all.  My dad and my mother’s best friend gave really beautiful tributes to her, both of which I think about and go back and read sometimes even now.  But somehow I couldn’t figure out how to put two words together about my mom, and now that is the chief memory I have of her funeral: my spectacularly insufficient speech.  It’s a failure I suffer over every time I think about it.  Why couldn’t I speak about her?  It has been over five years now and I still don’t know.

Maybe it’s because my feelings about my mom have never been anything I have put into words before, and I don’t know how.  As I write this, I realize that I still don’t have the right words.  As I think about her, my feelings are mainly wrapped up in childhood memories.  I remember how good she always smelled.  I remember the feel of her terry cloth robe and the soft scuff of her slippers on the floor.  I remember how much I loved to make her laugh.  She had a great laugh and a kind of sarcastic sense of humor, which is great in a friend but not always great in a mom.  She was not an easy audience.  Most of the things I wrote prior to reaching adulthood were written with the purpose of trying to impress her, which was a tall order.  I loved to stay up late with her and watch the Tonight Show, which she loved to make fun of.  I remember she let me stay up late once to watch “Son of Godzilla,” which, as a nine year old, I was so ecstatic about that I almost couldn’t breathe.  She watched the whole thing with me, which was too awesome for words.  A few years later, I returned the favor by going with her to a movie in the theater that she wanted to see but which my dad wouldn’t go to for some reason.  The movie was “Sleuth.”  It’s one of my favorite movies to this day, and I guarantee you it’s not because of Michael Caine’s brilliant acting.

It’s not too much to say that for me, my mom is my childhood, since nearly every memory I have before high school involves her directly or indirectly.  I think that part of the problem is that I never really got to know her as a person apart from her role as my mom.  I don’t think that is something that happens easily.  Maybe it only happens after you spend time with your mother after you are an adult and have some perspective distance from your childhood and the role that your mother played in it.  Maybe it never happens for most people.  I don’t think I got enough time with my mother for that to happen.  I’m sorry about that, because I would like to have known her more as a friend.  As members of our Church, we know certain things about what happens when we die.  We know we will see our family members again.  But somehow, that’s not much comfort to me right now.

I watched my mother die and I didn’t know what to say.  My last words to her were to ask if she wanted me to bring her father to see her.  She said no in a way that meant she thought I was crazy for even suggesting it.  She didn’t want to die.  She was beautiful.  I miss her.


  1. MCQ,

    Lovely. Thanks.

    Comment by Chris H. — June 1, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

  2. No one can know how you feel or how the hurt you have feels.My best friend in the world,my wife of 35 years died on my birthday three years ago ,I was mad at her because she gave up and would not do anything to fight the return of her cancer.The previous year was our best ever and we were having a great time,We had served in many callings and had helped a lot of people and it was time for us to enjoy retirement.She had finished college at age 62 and was ready to have fun,she had defeated the cancer fifteen years prior .I know I will be with her again ,but that does not give me any comfort.I see a movie we saw or hear a song that was ours and I cry . I would like to believe that it gets better ,but I know that for some of us the bonds of our relationship with some people can not be healed with the knowledge of the promise that the gospel offers . Many of us carry a pain similar to yours, but none of us can understand your pain for we did not share the relationship you have with your wonderful mother.

    Comment by marv thompson — June 3, 2011 @ 7:52 am

  3. Thanks, and marv, I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your wife. My mother died of cancer as well.

    Comment by MCQ — June 3, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

  4. mcq Maybe your mom and my wife can hook up and do some missionary work.My wife loved her stake mission,as a convert she did not have the chance for a full time mission.My mission was the USN in Vietnam.

    Comment by marv thompson — June 3, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

  5. My wife recently had a dream that my mom came and sat on the edge of our bed while we were sleeping and laughed and said that we were worrying about all the wrong things.

    Sounds like she’s got things going on on the other side alright.

    Comment by MCQ — June 4, 2011 @ 12:07 am

  6. Bless your heart.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — June 7, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

  7. This is in itself a wonderful tribute to an obviously loving and beloved mother.

    Comment by Kevin — June 13, 2011 @ 8:30 pm

  8. Nice post, MCQ.

    My brother and sister died 20 years ago and I still miss them a lot. Death sucks.

    Comment by Susan M — June 21, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  9. Thanks Susan. I’ve never heard the story of your brother and sister. Did they die at the same time? How did that happen?

    Comment by MCQ — June 23, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  10. My brother died of cancer when he was 34. (I was 20.) My sister died unexpectedly 7 months later, she was 32. They did an autopsy because she was mentally ill and had attempted suicide before, and she was found with pills in her pocket, but it was ruled natural causes.

    It bums me out that my kids never got to know them. I try to tell them about them but it’s just not the same.

    Comment by Susan M — June 24, 2011 @ 11:18 pm

  11. Wow. That’s rough. I don’t know how someone dies of natural causes at 32. That’s very sad, and must have been tough to deal with all of that in such a short time.

    Comment by MCQ — June 25, 2011 @ 10:53 am

  12. Yeah, my mom (who is not LDS) really had a rough time. It was only a couple years after losing her own brother and her mother as well. We’ve had a lot of death in our family. My oldest sister’s health hasn’t been very good the last year and I just want her to hang on long enough for her to outlive my mom. It’d kill my mom if she lost another kid.

    Comment by Susan M — June 27, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI