My father died when he was 45. He and my mom were in the middle of raising their four kids. My mom lost her best friend, life partner, a planned future, the financial source, her parenting partner, as you know, the list goes on.
I watched my mom care for my dad while he was sick for 2 years. I watched her sleep next to his bed in hospice for 2 weeks. I watched her tell stories and laugh with his friends as they surrounded her at the party after his funeral.
Then I watched her throw out medicine, books, information on his illness. I saw her get rid of her own wardrobe and start shopping for a new style. I got to see her leave for the gym every day and join a tennis group. I watched her have grace for herself when she didn't have the strength to finish her daily to do list. I saw her form a small group of other widows and widowers. I watched as she started dating again when she was ready. I saw her pick up her favorite ice tea from the drive thru whenever she felt like it, and take a bubble bath often through the week. I saw her leave for walks through the neighborhood with her friends, always inviting us along. I saw her place a framed photo of she and my step-dad on their wedding day, right next to the photo of she and my dad.
The very best thing my mom ever did for us after my dad died, was take care of herself.
I don’t mean that it was the best thing so she was able to be there for us. I mean that watching her seek nurture and care during that time was a really meaningful gift.
I saw her experience the greatest tragedy of her life and then take actual care of herself.
And I’ll truly always remember this as the best thing she could ever have done for us, not because her health gave her better capacity to care for us, but because through simple action, she whispered that she was worth it.
Tell me that message won’t sink in to anyone watching.