AUGUST 7, 2009 4:43PM

The Goodbye that was never said

Rate: 16 Flag


 This is not a new post.  It is a post that was deleted from OS somehow and thankfully, I was able to find a cached copy on  So, I'm simply reposting it.  I'm also attaching the original comments.  


My sister- in- law's eyes gave away the secret before she began to step back behind my brother's broad shoulders.  "Renee, mama's gone....." , he uttered as he watched my body involuntarily heave over.  It was not entirely unexpected.  Mama had been hospitalized once again for heart failure and all I could do was think about the smile that she had on her face when I last visited her.  I could see her outstretched hands reaching towards me with a sense of peace that she somehow knew that her days on this earth were coming to an end.

Almost as soon as I arrived, it was time to leave.  I didn't get a chance to hold her, to hug her and let her know that I did love her; that our past disagreements meant nothing to me.   I begin in earnest to make a bargain with God; that I would strive to be everything that my mother wanted me to be.  I would go back to church and get saved.  Whatever the price was, I was willing to pay. 

We were just beginning to find common ground with my daughter being the glue that held our previously frayed relationship together.  But it wasn't meant to be.  Her fate was decided by someone greater than I so I was left to sort out my feelings of loss, sadness and regret alone even though there were nine other siblings.  Each of us had our own burden to carry, having to listen to mine would only make theirs heavier.  This was not the time for that; so we all grieved as we silently pondered our own culpability in the loss of our mother.

 I had never feared death until it was visited upon someone close to me. Up until that time, I had never been to a funeral.  For twenty five years, I had been spared the awfulness, the finality of a journey that we all must take and there are no words to describe the abject horror of seeing a loved one laying lifelessly in a box; no matter how ornate or beautifully handcarved, but a box nonetheless.  As I stood in front of her and reminding myself that this was just a shell of the person who was my mother and that her spirit now resided in my heart, I struggled to find the words to express how much I would miss her.

I still miss her twenty five years later.  I marvel at her genius in raising ten children and managing to retain her sanity.  I wish that I had the opportunity to tell her how much she meant to me and that as a parent, I realize that no one is perfect.  I want her to know that I am healing from the wounds of my past and I've learned from them.  I want her to know that I am still striving to become whole.  I believe in the power of forgiveness and the reality that we can all have new beginnings; that whatever fractured relationship that we are now experiencing it can be healed.  

The grave is not the place to ask for forgiveness or to negotiate better relationships.  If you have someone in your life that you need to talk to:  Do it today.  Tomorrow isn't promised to any of us.  Don't wait.  Tomorrow may be too late.....tomorrow may not include the person who is waiting for your call..... today.


this post is beautiful from start to finish, but the part i'll try to keep with me always is:

"Tomorrow isn't promised to any of us. Don't wait. Tomorrow may be too late.....tomorrow may not include the person who is waiting for your call..... today."

thanks for that one and for your good heart.
Thanks, Nanatehay....whoever coined the phrase "Give flowers when they can smell them" got it it right. Love is best expressed when the receiver can see and feel it and in doing so, there will be no regrets.
Beautiful elegy...Such sweet words and heartfelt.

So wise and eloquent! Thanks!
Beautiful, and a well supported moral. Thank you
Great advice. I am sure that your mom knew all these things you might have spoken had you only known.
I have my mom with me always.
Bless you.
Thanks, Greg, Zuma, O'Kathryn and O'Stephanie. It is my prayer that my mom knew this....we weren't an affectionate lot, so I  never got to tell her things that she deserved to know. Now, I'm hopeful that she has safeguarded my unspoken words somewhere in her heart.
Beautiful and heartfelt. This really touched me. Thanks
Oh, sorry I missed your comment LadyLafayette....thank you for your warm words.
I missed this one first time around, it's beautiful Corgi.
Thanks, Julie.....I appreciate that!


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This is one of my favorites of yours Renee. And look at my avatar up there; how weird!
So glad you reposted this, as I missed it the first time around.

One of the (many) shitty things about losing a parent before your OWN middle age is that when you're young you're still trying to figure yourself out. You can't sympathize with your parents, as your focus is all on breaking away & finding yourself & starting your Real Life. You don't have time to empathize with or really consider THEIR lives. You don't have the years; consequently, you don't have the Wisdom of the Years. By the time you reach the point where you can say, "Yes! I understand! I'm not angry anymore!" -- they're already gone.

This is a valuable post in that it reminds us to act now instead of waiting for some perfect moment that may never come. (I think your mother's smile when you last visited her says everything. Moms just know stuff.) Wise & beautifully written!
This seems so very familiar to me. It is beautiful and will always be timely, because no one knows when our time is due.

"there are no words to describe the abject horror of seeing a loved one laying lifelessly in a box;"

That is a very simple, yet very powerful statement. It just jumped off the page and slapped me in the face!
so so true

my Dad died when we were hardly on speaking terms
young people don't realize that anyone can die at any time
it is one of the major regrets of my life

you may not have another opportunity

you should write more about your Mom
i would like to know more about your relationship

thanks for this
you really have a lot of basic wisdom
I think as I near 'middle age' the vulnerability has slowly crept up inside of me. The realization that our parents will not live forever, nor will they outlive us has come to fruition.

Ultimately the losses we inherit are in fact the lessons we must take.
oh, wow, i feel like i read this one but i clearly didn't. this is so excellent, sweetheart. it's all moving but when you talk about the things you want her to know, that you're healing, that you've learned about forgiveness. i mean, she KNOWS. but i know that feeling. you write so eloquently, girl. i've missed you terribly. maybe you've been back and i just haven't seen your psots. i will catch up. love lvoe lvoe and gratitude!!
Certainly deserving of a repost.

I came on the scene after this was originally posted so I am thankful to read it now, for the first time. The old axiom that "it's never too late" isn't true, sometimes it is too late. Death is the ultimate line in the sand and I struggle with a conflict not unlike your own. I tremble at the thought of reestablishing contact with my own mother and I worry that something will happen to her before I can gather the courage to contact her.
Thanks, Jeff!'re always changing your avatar! lol

Suzie, you are so wise. You are absolutely correct. I didn't have the wherewithal to see the world from my parent's point of view. At that age everything seemed to be more dramatic than what it actually was and it only resulted in a lot of missed opportunities. Sad......

Thanks, certainly puts things into perspective. Thanks for coming by.

Kathy, I'm sorry about your dad. It's one of those things that we wish we could do over, but we can't so we have to live with the just leaves a dull ache in your heart and there's no cure that will alleviate the pain. So, you have to tell yourself that they understood....maybe that's why God gives parents such extraordinary patience and understanding.....He knows that they will definitely need it. ;-D

Manchu, that is it....exactly. It truly is the circle of life. We must be prepared to usher our parents into the next realm and we leave the same trying legacy to our children. If nothing else, it is a lesson to make every day count as if it were your last. Life is too short for regrets, for lives not being truly fulfilled by wasting one minute being unhappy, doing things we detest and accepting behaviors that offends our sensibilities. This is not a dress rehearsal.

Teddy! I've missed you too sweetheart! Thanks for the words of encouragement. I believe that she understood too.

Thanks, Willie....I appreciate you!

Ablonde, you are absolutely right. The only time it is too late is when one of you have passed into the next life. I think sometimes people let pride get in the way of creating and fostering a good relationship. You may want to do what I did before my father became striken with alzheimer's. I wrote him a love letter thanking him for everything that he had done as a father of ten kids. He could have walked away like so many men are wont to do, but he didn't. Despite our many differences, there were so many good things about our relationship that I took care to detail in that letter. I let the words on the paper say everything that I couldn't bring myself to say in person.

I handed it to him and said to read it when he gets a chance. I gave him no clue regarding the contents. I caught him reading it several times after that and each time he had a smile on his face. It did my heart good because I was CERTAIN that he knew how much he meant to me and it made me happy and grateful about it. Try it.....write from the heart and mail it to her....then you know that you've said what you needed to say and that's ready all you can do. Good luck!
Very touching and VERY heartfelt post. I am so glad you were able to find it and re-post this. I loved this..
Tomorrow is too late and forgiveness is divine. Yes, indeed. Two messages worth hearing and reflecting on. Thanks for the repost. I did not see this the first time.
So very true. This is one of the reasons I fought so hard with my mother to achieve peace with her while she was alive, rather than just "giving up" as she continued to suggest. I can honestly feel that nothing went unsaid before she died. But I still miss her.
one of my favorites too- good to see you back Renee
Thanks for re-posting this, Renee. I love your posts for their inherent warmth and wisdom. 'The grave is not the place to ask for forgiveness or to negotiate better relationships.' A timely reminder; I try to remember this but usually cowardice, or maybe just laziness, prevails.