On behalf of all of us (my dad, Ross, Will, John and me) thank you all so much for being here. My mother would be honored and delighted to know that all of you were together to celebrate her life. I have no doubt that each and every one of you shared a moment of laughter with my Mom and, next to her love for family, there was nothing she held more precious than a good hearty laugh. So, thank you each or being there for her to laugh with then. And thank you for being here for us today.
Shortly after my mother passed away, I received a piece of advice from Missy McKenzie, whose comfort and kind words have meant more to me over the past few months than I can explain. Missy, who has also lost a beloved parent much too soon, said this…”Write your eulogy now. While it’s all still fresh in your mind. You’ll be so glad you did.” I valued Missy’s advice that day. But, unfortunately, I ignored it.
Weeks went by and, while visiting my Dad in Dorset, he welcomed me to go through my mother’s things and determine what I would like to keep as my own. I’m sure he meant I should go through the boxes he set aside and the closets and dressers that we all knew to be hers. But, I’m an only child. I spent countless hours of my childhood exploring (ok, maybe snooping) in the darkest corners and crevices of that house on the West Road. And, I knew…the good stuff wasn’t in those boxes or in those drawers.
And, sure enough, I left Dorset that weekend with many precious things my father generously and intentionally shared with me. I gratefully wear her rings every day. I have many beautiful pictures that I look forward to sharing with my children to keep her memory as alive as possible. I wear a Dorset Field Club fleece on the sidelines of their games and think of how much she’d love to be watching them, too. But, I also left with something almost more valuable that day. I left with her words.
Many of you likely know that my mother was a beautiful writer. And while her sisters made very successful careers of their talent for the written word, my mother’s words were most famously known to bring laughter to her friends in the form of her clever, rhyming poems at countless events and celebrations. But, she didn’t only write for public consumption. As is the case with many writers, she also wrote to express her deepest, less-public feelings. Her greatest prides and her greatest sorrows. And, as that snoopy only child digging around the house, I knew that when I came across that yellow lined pad of paper I’d hit the jackpot.
There were never any secrets discovered in the reading of those notepads…but I loved reading her words. I loved feeling even closer to her (which hardly seemed possible) than I did on a regular day.
So, I owe her yet another thank you on top of the countless thanks I give to her every day for the things she gave me. Because she also gave me…my eulogy.
These are my mother’s words written in September of 1985, the fall I went to boarding school. And, while she wasn’t experiencing grief in its truest sense, her words could not more accurately echo my feelings of loss today.
From my Mom’s yellow pad: 9/9/1985
“…and now she is gone from me. I never let myself think, beforehand, about exactly how I would feel. I let myself muse very shortly and not very often and never in depth how sad I would feel and how different it would be.
But, I never never thought it would feel like this. I am bereft.
So many things bring tears now – songs, stuffed animals, friends, pets, photographs – and I feel guilty and foolish for crying. But, I also feel I need to cry. I have earned the right to mourn the passing of this part of our lives.
To have such feelings is a gift – the feelings themselves lift me to a higher plane. I know somehow I am fulfilling the greatest of human needs – to love and be loved and to treasure every moment of the caring.
Having these feelings means we did it right. We grew up together and built a loving bond that will never be broken.”