My mom lived in a small apartment in White Plains, NY. My biological mom. Remind me…one of these days to tell you all how my mom and I met. It’s a beautiful and insane story.
A week after my mom’s funeral my family and I went to clean out her apartment. My mother loved her small apartment. She kept things in a certain order; her favorite chair had to be in the right position to watch TV; her phone close by so not to get up from that favorite chair (it would depend of course who would be calling for her to answer the phone). We only had one weekend to move everything out of her apartment. My mom accumulated a lot of stuff in this small apartment. Not knowing where to start, we threw items all over the place…my gosh, if my mother saw what we did she would’ve kicked us out..of course not before she said a few choice words.
Cleaning her apartment was difficult. Everything we touched was her. All of her stories. There were stories in her coffee cup, her stuff animals, her glasses, her sofa. As we gave away items to people who came by they each went home with her stories. Her stories are ones of hope and redemption. Her stories are ones of survivor and strength. Her stories are ones of love and friendship. Her stories are ones of grace and gratitude. We found journals where she wrote about what was going on in her life after she found out she had cancer. She was a fighter! Yes, I mean that both figuratively and literally. You never wanted to cross this woman, ever!
I found a journal called the “Gratitude Journal”. In it were notes she expressed of how grateful she was to God, to friends and even to me, her daughter. We didn’t always see things eye to eye. This was a surprise that I even made I cut. I cried. She loved me. She was dying of cancer and at times what I saw was her anger of the disease. What I saw was her anger of doctors telling her what medicine she needed to take and how miserable she was . But all she wanted was to be in that small apartment where her stories were created, where she shared love to those who, if they were allowed, to walk through her doors. I imagine that each day she found things to be grateful for and those things gave her life even in the midst of knowing she would leave us, she fought to continue to write her stories of gratitude.
I write in her journal now. Not everyday. I promise my mom I would look at my life and find those things to be grateful for and add my stories to hers. I’m grateful to have met this most wonderful woman when I was 15. This woman, my biological mom, who didn’t have an easy life, who struggled at times with herself, who told me, “Remember, you can always start over”. I’m grateful because now I get to continue her story while I also continue living my story struggling at times with myself but finding even in the hardship of life to live for the things that I’m grateful for.
What are our stories of gratitude? Where are your stories? Close by or hidden? Some of our stories are beautiful , some ugly, some we rather not even talk about. My mom taught me to be grateful for all parts of my story, the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m smiling….
I hope you look for the things you are grateful for. I hope at the end of our lives, someone will be able to see our stories in the simplest of acts. I have a favorite coffee cup. It holds my story.