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Between Phone Calls

by Jo Mcvay 2 months ago in Family
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Life and Death

Between Phone Calls
Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

Dear Mom,

If I’d only had the capacity to understand then, 25 years ago, what I know now we would have been closer.

After my sister was born I felt obsolete. Whether that was fair or not really wasn't relevant. I was eleven and an only child until she arrived. From my young point of view she took all of your time away from me. I was lonely.

I recall one time when you and dad were going through a rough patch you were going to move out with my sister and leave me with my father. I loved my dad very much, but I remember the knot in my stomach from hearing you say you would just go without me.

The years passed and I moved on, got married, had kids of my own.

We visited occasionally. You were so good with them. They adored you.

We celebrated your 65th birthday on July 24th at sliding rock. You ripped your shorts but kept on going. The kids laughed so much that day. It's a good memory. That was the day I questioned your headaches and constant cough.

The Dr. claimed pneumonia but it didn't clear. Eventually you went into the hospital for testing.

September 23, dad’s birthday, was the day we got your cancer diagnosis. It was all through your body. Your lungs, your bones and your brain.

I went to care for you the first week of October. I put together a food plan, helped get you back and forth to radiation, and spent time praying and meditating with you.

The afternoon I was preparing to leave you asked me to come sit with you. I sat beside you on the bed. You took my hands in yours, looked into my eyes and said, “I had no idea how kind you were.” I cried the entire car ride home.

In the morning I called to check on you. You sounded very tired and like you were drowning. I asked dad to check your oxygen machine.

I picked up some thank you cards on my lunch break to send to a few friends who had stepped up to help with my kids. I planned to call that evening after work. I never did. Dad called me first. You were gone. Just two weeks after your diagnosis. October 8.

I cried to my best friend that it took your dying to see me. And she healed me with her words, ”But at least she saw you.” Those words were such a blessing - hers and yours.

You'll be gone 24 years this fall.That’s a long time to reflect. Here are some things I want you to know, mom. I need you to know.

I love you. I never said that enough. You were a young mother of 21. You moved away from your family, in England, to start a new life with my father in Canada. Just a child yourself raising a child with no help. Then you moved to the United States, again with no friends or support. When your parents died you weren't even able to say goodbye. I remember you pounding the floor and screaming with grief when your father died, and again when your mother died. Now I understand your pain.

When I left home it was all about me. I never looked back. I never thought about how it might affect you. So many separations and goodbyes. Feelings of isolation. Estrangement. Now that I have adult children, I’ve experienced those feelings of loneliness a time or two myself. I'm sorry I was so selfish.

Mom, I wish I could go back and have a do over. I’ve learned life can be fragile when you least expect it and people die between phone calls. I miss you mom. I wish I'd tried harder and called more. I wish I'd said I love you one last time.


About the author

Jo Mcvay

Rewrite rewrite rewrite. I was an aspiring author many years ago, possibly in a galaxy far far away. Now I'm back after 3 kids, 4 grandkids and too many furkids to mention. Retired and ready to soar.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (9)

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  • Marcos Martinezabout a month ago

    Your writing is strong in its reflection and capacity to stir emotion. What a significant moment we got to share. "I never knew you were so kind." From a mother to her son. Beautifully poignant. I'm so glad my mother and I are friends as much as much as mother and son. We cherish one another and laugh often. But I wonder if this will make the inevitable loss of her that much more devastating. Woof! It's too heady to ruminate.

  • Catherine Kenwellabout a month ago

    Tender and well written.

  • L.R2 months ago

    both a moving piece and a beautiful one.

  • Sojin samuel2 months ago


  • Savanah Wise2 months ago

    that was really deep and a good story

  • Kayla Baker2 months ago

    That was deep. I just recently moved out away from my mom. This makes me anxious because I know time is going by too fast.

  • Subscriber here. I love reading your story.

  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    Enjoyed your story....because it was heartfelt. I know the pain of not enough, too.

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