When I picture my mom I see two photographs taken at opposite ends of her lifetime. In the first photo, she is this little girl with chubby cheeks and outstretched arms embracing dozens of dolls. In the second photo she is this withering woman tenderly cradling one doll.
She’s smiling in both photos — a radiant smile that stretches across almost seven decades of time. I knew my mom for almost five of those decades, but it’s only in the past year that my heart opened to her. With death looming, our mother-daughter bond blossomed. We talked on the phone almost every day. And I discovered many things about her: how funny she was; how deeply she loved; and how uncertain she was that people loved her.
This doubt dissolved in the final weeks of her life. I’d call her once, twice, sometimes three times a day. And she’d tell me who was visiting, who had visited, the stories people shared about how she’d touched their lives, enriched their world. At first she was bewildered, astonished. But soon she let all this love flood her heart. All of your love, all of our love.
Which brings me back to those two photographs where her smile stretches across almost seven decades of time. A smile come full circle — from innocently embracing the world with love to surrendering willingly into love’s embrace.
I know in my heart that my mama died peacefully, blissfully, cherished, adored…overflowing with love.