My mom died suddenly on a sunny spring day 12 years ago this week. She had been in excellent health and very happy with life. Looking back, just before her death, it had been a wonderful time in the life of our family.
In the magical thinking of childhood, I had believed that I would have some intuition if anything terrible would happen to someone I loved, but I had never been so shocked in my life than at the moment my wife told me that my mother was dead.
At one moment life was very good, and in the next, it seemed it could never be good again.
My mom had been my greatest support throughout my whole life. She was an inexhaustible source of love and generosity. She lived for us, always putting her interests above her own. She loved me just the way I was with all my fears and faults, but she also saw the best in me, nurtured my talents and the best of my nature. She more than anyone else helped me achieve my potential for good.
I would be a lesser person without my mom. Without her seeing and believing in the best in me, I may not have seen it myself. That was the power of my mother’s love.
Her death was like a solar eclipse. A great energy and light in my life was immediately gone, and for what seemed a long stretch of time, it stayed that way and my life was diminished.
I’ve imagined what our lives would be like if my mother was still alive. She would have loved to see my children grow up, and she would be happily involved every step of the way. She would be at every violin and dance performance, school concert and football game. She would have shown her boundless love with the thousand thoughtful acts of kindness that came so naturally to her. She would have taught my daughter to bake and cook, and she would have been a better role model to my children than anyone else in their lives.
I know she would have been proud of me when I did my best for others, but she would probably tell me not to work so hard and risk burning myself out for everyone around me. But then again, that’s a quality I inherited from her.
I have never met a better person than my mother – no one with the same integrity and faith; no one with the same compassion and generosity; no one as thoughtful; no one as honest.
Maybe this is why I have been so disappointed by the behaviour of others and often am let down by the people around me. The rest of the world seems so selfish and self-centred, so stingy and thoughtless, and so small hearted.
But the legacy of my mom was her love – generous and compassionate, accepting the shortcomings of others but loving anyway, and it is this love that I give forward to my own children, to my family, to my friends, to my colleagues, to my patients and to every other human being I have the opportunity to help.
My mother was a great soul, but her love lives on in this world through me, and if I have loved my children well enough, through the love they will give forward to others. My mother’s love will continue to make the world a better place beyond our own lives, a little kinder and thoughtful, more gentle and generous.