Just the other night, I was going through old family photos with Jade and came across this Polaroid – a picture that says “I love you!!!” a million times over. As my eyes welled up with tears, I looked at Jade and said, “Wasn’t my Mom so pretty? You got your adorable cheeks from her.” And she said, “Really? I did?!”, and then smiled proudly.
(My Dad, me and my Mom hugging tightly in our backyard.)
I often think about how I wish my Mom could have held my babies in her arms, how she would have sung to them as she did to me, “You Are My Sunshine”, or how she would have loved to stand by my side, watching my kids as they set off on their first days of school. Because I lost my Mom to cancer well before my kids were born, these dreams never became a reality. While I knew she couldn’t be with us in person, was there a different way to bring her along my journey in life? In time, I’ve found out that the answer is a definite and very strong “YES!”.
A few years ago, I explained to Jade my love for dragonflies and how they remind me of my Mom. I read her the story that ignited this love and we talked about it frequently. She caught on quickly, as she now picks t-shirts to wear with dragonflies on them, she will point a dragonfly out and say, “Hey Mom, there’s your mom!” and if she sees one when I’m not with her, she has another adult take a picture to send to me so I’ll know she too is thinking about my Mom. In these moments, it makes me feel like we’re all together – it’s beautiful.
Talking about my Mom with my kids has been and continues to be a huge priority. Not only does it help them understand how important she was to me, but it helps them feel as if they’ve met her. I know this because one day I made the mistake of saying something like, “You never got to meet my Mom”, to Jade, and before I could continue, she sternly interrupted me by saying, “Yes I have, I know her!!!”. This was a monumental moment for me. It told me that everything I had tried to do to make my Mom a part of my kids lives was working. How this has warmed my heart, words cannot explain.
All of these thoughts come at a precious time of year, two days before our family and friends come together as Team Camille’s Wings for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation 5k run/walk in downtown Chicago. It’s a tradition that means so much to me, my family and friends who’ve also made it their annual day to celebrate a fabulous LADY. And I write LADY, because if anyone defined the word “LADY”, it was my Mom. This Sunday, we will walk for her, run for her, smile for her, cheer for her and just simply enjoy life together for her. It’s a truly wonderful day and I’m so thankful to everyone who helps make it so special.
So, it goes without saying that while I understand how hard it can be to keep people we’ve lost present in our lives, I urge everyone to try to do so. I urge you all to find your “dragonfly”, your “Camille’s Wings”, or whatever it is that you hold close to your heart, and embrace it. The power behind doing so may just surprise you.
Cheers and love go out to all of those who have loved and lost. As the saying goes, “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” – Charlotte
(My sisters and I holding our Mom while on one of our annual family vacations to Isle of Palms, South Carolina – my most favorite place on Earth.)