Dear Mom … It’s Hard to Say Goodbye

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.

Kenji Miyazawa

Dear Mom,

It’s hard to say goodbye. It’s hard for me to believe that you’re actually gone. I still expect to see you enter the room or to hear your voice when the phone rings.

Your passing has affected me deeply…more deeply than I could have imagined. For the first time in my life, I feel profound sorrow. I’m no stranger to loss and have experienced sadness but this is altogether different.

Just when I thought I had worked through all the emotions, it starts all over again, without rhyme or reason. Yesterday unexpectedly, I started crying. It sneaks up on you…the sadness.

We’ve had our differences and we can agree that we had a challenging relationship. I used to think that the reason for our issues was because we were so different but I’ve come to realize that it’s because we were so alike – stubborn, strong-willed, defiant – two peas in a pod.

I turn the pages of your photo album and wish that I could have met your younger self – the girl with braids who aspired to be an artist and the young stylish woman with a taste for bright, colourful clothes and bold lipstick. I think we could have been good friends.

For a city girl, life wasn’t always easy for you living in a small, sleepy mining town and raising four children. Despite the challenges, you loved and cared for us in the best way you knew how.

Mom, you always wanted the world for us. Life happened and you never claimed your own creativity or chased your own dreams, so an education was important. You were determined that all your children would attend university, so determined in fact, that while we were still in your womb you had already picked out our schools and careers.

I admired your indomitable spirit. You always encouraged your children to stand up for themselves and to fight for what was right. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you that you were a good mother or that I appreciated the values and lessons I learned while growing up.

Do you remember when I was nine years old and lost control of my bicycle? I flew over the handlebars and plowed face-first into the gravel covered road. Scared, shaking and bleeding, I got back on my bike and pedaled home as fast as I could…wailing all the way. I was a sight – my knees skinned raw and my chin embedded with stones.

You sat me down and with tweezers, patiently plucked out every piece of gravel. I remember you saying, “Be strong. It will be painful, but we will get through this…one stone at a time.” Perseverance. Resilience.You taught me that Mom.

Family was important to you. You would often say, “Family is stronger together than apart.” Spending time together was your favourite activity. Shopping at Winners or Joe Fresh was a close second. I love that our family gatherings revolve around food – cooking, eating and sharing it, lots of it. My fondest memory is sitting at the kitchen table making wontons while you scrutinized our individual dumpling making skills. You were a hard taskmaster.

Mom, I know the past year was difficult …your mind and body had been drifting towards life’s edge for some time. You were tired and ready to go. I get that. I’m grateful that you’re no longer suffering and pray that you’re on a beautiful journey – safe and happy, strong and healthy and living with ease and joy.

Tomorrow is a new day and I will not mourn your passing but celebrate your life. It’s what you would have wanted from your family. Our greatest gift to you is to live our own best lives.

Thanks Mom, for your love, generosity, wisdom and strength. You will be forever in our hearts and memories.

Love, Kasandra

May Quew Chow, Nee P0n

October 4, 1931 – November 8, 2018

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