How I Healed from my Mother’s Death: Time Sifts All Wounds

I made this gift for my husband the year my mother passed away. It was a Christmas gift and as a last minute Christmas elf, I worked on it Christmas Eve day. When I was working on it, I received a phone call my mom was in the hospital. I called the hospital and the nurse held the phone to her ear. It was the last time I ever spoke with her. My essay, Presence, published on Christmas Eve 2013 in Mamalode magazine details the event.

The nurse who held the phone to her face was pretty sure she passed away while on the phone with me. I was the bravest I’ve ever been that night. I told her it was ok to go and to catch a ride with Santa.

A blizzard covered Colorado (where she was in the hospital) and it was Christmas Eve.

Photo credit: ©️Megan Oteri

It’s hard to believe how quickly time moves and how efficiently it shifts our deepest sadnesses to create a bedrock of understanding and an outlook of beauty in the world.

I look at her life now through a different lens. I am searching deeply for connection to her through her stories and records she has left me. I want to know her as only she knew herself. I know this knowledge is not mine to have for only she could know. That is the bond and beauty of motherhood: our children simply never will know nor should they know everything about us. They simply know as daughter or son.

Photo credit: I don’t know who took this photo. It was at a luncheon at the King Home in Evanston, Illinois where she was the recreational activities director before she met my father. She told me stories in detail of all the retired gentlemen who enjoyed her fun activities and how some of the men were the biggest tycoons of their time before entering retirement at the King Home.

It was a different portal of time. It was the 60s. My daughter heart aches to know more. My writer self scolds myself for not listening more intently to each individual story she ever told. I never took notes. Truth be told, I could have cared less about the King Home and her stories. She had them on repeat for my entire life. Then she faded and passed away — her stories no longer accessible. I am left with my real self and I understand there is no way to document everything. We simply live and enjoy the people we share the planet and this plane of time with. I was blessed with Betty.

Look at her!! She is stunning. She was funny too. But what I do know is she was unhappy in her first marriage (and could not have children — she had 12 miscarriages) and never would have divorced her husband, Bill, had she not met my father. They were soulmates, stamped in time eternally. They are buried at Arlington Cemetery together.

Photo credit: ©️Megan Oteri

My mother knew this bedrock of beauty that had sifted her own joys, sadness and struggles. She taught me in ways I could only understand after she left this world. She prepared me though through example, when her own mother died.

I remember the sadness in her shoulders as if weighed down with the weight of the world. Every year on anniversaries of her mother’s birthday and death and special occasions, she would whimper silently.

I’d ask her, “What’s wrong Mom?”

She’d simply say, “I’m thinking of my mother. It’s her birthday today.”

I’d hug her and try to fix her heartache with a child’s love and adoration that could not prove stronger than her own heartache.

Grief is a roller coaster ride and sometimes there are calm, straight lines and sometimes there are wild, stomach dropping lifts.

Photo credit: ©️Megan Oteri

But we ride for we have no choice. The calm, thrill and fear will eventually become sifted and you will eventually have the bedrock of beauty to sit upon.

Photo credit: ©️Megan Oteri

Megan Oteri is a writer, entrepreneur, and her mother’s daughter. She writes about her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother at The Evanston Community Kitchen and blogs about business and the power of play and creativity at Brick Scholars. She muses at memomuse.