I woke early this morning in my mother’s bed, the pillow wet with tears. And I took two Kleenex boxes– one full and the other empty– and used one tissue after the other, until the empty box was overflowing with crinkled wads of sorrow.

And I remembered an afternoon when I was 18 and walking down Main Street in Park City with my mom, sobbing mightily as my mother handed me tissue after tissue. I wiped my constant stream of tears and blew my nose and she took those snot-filled hunks from me and stuffed my grief in her pockets. I was overwhelmed at her love for me.

My dad heard my sobs around 8 o’clock and came to join me. He too had been woken hours before by his tears. The need for quiet gone, we wailed and howled like ancient mourners– speaking of regrets and joys and our hopes for the future. Throughout the past two days my dad, sister and have gone on a round-robin of mourning– we collapse in tears one at time, hugging and comforting each other and then we surrender together, sobbing and wiping each other’s tears. We will see her again; we know this. But her death is a tragedy.

Mom gave me a wonderful greeting when I arrived Saturday evening. She lifted her head and her eyes opened wide as she smiled and tried to speak while I wept on her shoulder. Her 92 year old mother(who moved out of my parents house just 3 weeks ago) and her brother flew in just an hour after I did. Confused by my mom’s rapid decline, her brother asked question after question, puzzling over the situation. My brother-in-law pulled him into the kitchen so we could sit by my mother in quiet. But I could hear his words, “She was so strong as a young woman,” he mused, “but never the same after having children. I wonder about those shots she took when she was pregnant– the Rh negative stuff– wasn’t it experimental?”

He didn’t intend to be cruel and I don’t think the Rhogam shots caused my mom’s illness. But this morning as I ran around the San Diego Temple marveling at my young and healthy body I could feel my mom with me. And because I’ve had so many February babies, I reflected that she would have discovered her pregnancy with me in mid-June 40 years ago. And I imagined her fear of a stillborn baby and her frantic call to the doctor… I’m sure her told her of the medicine and assured her she’d have a successful pregnancy. But what if he’d said this:

“You may bear this baby and another, but you’ll contract a disease that will make you gain tremendous amounts of weight, it will steal your health before you turn gray, it will fill your liver with tumors, your hands and feet will swell and make gardening and sewing painful and finally, after 40 years– like the children of Israel in the wilderness– you will die in agonizing pain with your husband at your side and this child at your feet.”

“Oh yes, please,” she would have answered, “I’ll give my life for my children. That would be my pleasure.”

June 14, 2009
June 16, 2009



  1. Blue

    June 16, 2009

    Dying isn’t something I have any real personal experience with. Yet. I know you have, but this seems like an experience wholly different than others might have been.

    Be gentle with yourself as you tread the waters of grief and sorrow my dear friend!

    Love you and we’re praying for you and your family (all of it). ♥

  2. Jeanelle

    June 16, 2009

    I hope you got my email and know how very much you’re loved. I wish there was something I could do for you, my sweet friend.

  3. Selwyn

    June 16, 2009

    Oh Michelle.

    My love and prayers and hugs to you and your family.

  4. Abi

    June 16, 2009

    My eyes are filled with tears. My heart hurts with yours. You are one amazing woman and I can see your Momw as too!!

  5. jess

    June 16, 2009

    and you carry that same spirit of goodness with you – because you are a mother…

  6. Kenny

    June 16, 2009


    I am glad that you are there with Dad. The photo you took of Mom and Dad is precious. I hope that you will give me a copy.

    Love, Kenny

  7. Kelly

    June 16, 2009

    …..as too would I….

    Moms are amazing people…we are given ours for a reason…peace be with you, Michelle.


  8. martha corinna

    June 16, 2009

    I just want to let you know that I’m thinking of you and that your words enrich my life.

  9. duchess

    June 16, 2009

    My words can’t take away your pain but I am sorry for your loss.

  10. Claudia

    June 16, 2009

    I wish I could come out there and hold your hand. Thinking of you.

    Much love,Claudia

  11. Denise

    June 16, 2009

    Yes! Yes! That’s it exactly! You know she would have wanted you and your sister regardless. And you also have to know, that her carrying you was not the cause of all this.

    You, Kenny, Mike, and Ruth are nearly always in my thoughts these days and always in our prayers. I wish we weren’t so very far away.

  12. Jill

    June 17, 2009


    I am so very very sorry. I know your pain so well. Just yesterday as we were driving down the road, my son reminded me that it had been eight months since my dad passed. At once I was flooded with tears.

    It is a most difficult thing to lose a parent when we still feel like we need them so much. I wish I could tell you it gets easier, but I still miss him so very much and long to talk with him and be wrapped in the warmth of his embrace.

    I will keep you in my heart and in my prayers.

    God speed.


  13. Travelin'Oma

    June 18, 2009

    I don’t think I could really see my mom until she died. After that her life seemed compact somehow, and I started to examine it from beginning to end. Without the clutter of dailiness to wade through, her sweet character and loving intentions become clearer to me every day. It’s been 12 years since she died but I love her more all the time. Her death seemed too soon, but it’s opened an opportunity for me to appreciate her goodness. I actually feel closer to her now than I did much of the time that we were on earth together. It’s very bittersweet.

    I’m so sorry for your loss and the heartache you’re experiencing. You’ve expressed yourself beautifully in these loving tributes to your mom.

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