With Mother’s Day coming, I decided to share this letter that I wrote to my mother nine years ago. For those of you who don’t know me, it’s good to remember, while reading the letter, that I was born with a motor neuron disease that has rendered me completely dependent on others for all of my physical needs. This letter is rather personal – but I hope and trust that my mother won’t mind. It shows my own selfishness – and her great selflessness.
On the Occasion of
May 14, 2006
The reason that I’m writing this little letter is so that you will always remember how much I love you and am grateful for you. Never forget that you are a woman who is loved! My appreciation for you, Francine, goes beyond the natural appreciation of a daughter for her mother, because you, Francine, go beyond the natural giving of an ordinary mother.
You sacrifice yourself, giving your pain and suffering to the ones you love. You are, in fact, selfless – and don’t argue. Anyone can plainly see the pain and weakness that your body suffers. And yet, though your back is hunched over, your muscles spasming, your legs dragging, you give yourself to me. You are here for me every day, for whatever I may need. And you are even here for me every day for whatever I may want. You are a deep source of comfort and joy for me.
Mama, you and I both know how the years will play out if you keep giving to me as you do… your spine will become worse, your pain more frequent, and yet… you are willing to continue to take care of me, to give yourself to me, even if it means breaking your body. True, your body is deteriorating quickly on its own, but we know that lifting me and carrying me, and doing all the things that you do for me, is breaking your body more quickly and certainly. For the sake of your body and physical health, you should not hold me. And yet, I know that you will always take me into your arms. That’s sacrifice.
My beloved mother, you give another immediate and personally human dimension to the meaning of Our Lord’s words, “This is my Body, which will be given up for you.” You see, Mama, I see Christ in you… you bring Him to me and I experience something of God’s own love for me through you. I want you, too, to experience God’s own love for you. I want you to know how uniquely precious you are in your Creator’s Own Heart. I, fault-ridden human that I am, love you and want to bless you. Think how much more God Our Father, who is perfect, loves you and wants to bless you. Open your mind, Mama, and your heart and let God love you, faults and all. Though I sometimes criticize you, know that I’m speaking from my own flawed humanness. I love you more than I can say. Our Lord, who knows how you suffer – because He suffers, too – loves you divinely, loves you in your struggle, loves you forever… and He will always take you into His arms. He is giving Himself to you every day. That’s what true love is… and I know that because of you.
So… Happy Mother’s Day, Mama! Thank you for everything, everything! Know that you are deeply and profoundly loved – not just by me and your family, but by the Master of all life, Himself.
(and thank you for my name!)
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.