Last week, I received a beautiful sympathy card from a dear friend’s mother. The moment I started reading it, I started bawling. The sadness wasn’t because I knew this woman really well. The tears were because she was openly sharing her motherly love with me. And now I don’t have a mother.
For the first time in my life, I feel like I need my mom.
For various reasons, I became extremely self-reliant early in life. I always kept my mom at a polite distance, pushing down my natural need of my mother’s love. But when she was diagnosed with brain cancer, the walls I had built were immediately torn down. What I saw through the rubble of my wall amazed me. In fact, besides when I first entered recovery and took a full inventory of my past mistakes (big ouch), the experience of my mom’s love was the most humbling moment I have ever experienced.
Because I held on to deep resentment, most of which was unconscious, I only had 3 ½ months of a truly open and loving relationship with my mom. And now I’m swimming with regret and I’m left missing something I never knew I needed.
During the last months of my mom’s life, we were blessed to share a wonderful mother, daughter relationship. But, as quickly as it came, it left. And now I can’t close the lid on my emotions. I can’t block her out. My daughter’s heart has been broken open to the love of my mom, and she’s not here to fill it anymore. And since there’s no more resentment, there’s nothing left to rebuild my wall. I’m left open and extremely vulnerable.
I’ll never know what would have happened if I’d become aware of my resentment earlier. Maybe my mom and I would have enjoyed decades of a close, loving relationship, like the one we had for those last months of her life. Or, maybe we would have remained comfortably distant, but with open hearts enjoying whatever level we could have gained through understanding and forgiveness. Since she’s gone, I’ve been relegated to her sweet phone messages telling me how much she loves me. I wish I could talk to her again and tell her how sorry I am. But, sadly, a thousand apologies wouldn’t cover the years of missed opportunities.
There’s a reason I’m compelled to share the regret I have with my mom. I hope someone reading my story will recognize herself in me, and will be inspired to open up the old vaults to her mom, or dad, spouse, or possibly an old friend; even if the process of opening old wounds ends not with a closer relationship, but with simply being freed from the anchor of resentment. When someone we love dies, we’ll never regret loving them. And knowing we took full responsibility for our part of the relationship gives us the freedom to love on any level of closeness.
As I move forward with God’s help, I pray not only for healing, but for the wisdom to know when to build a wall…and when to build a bridge instead.
Here’s to no more regrets.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or wisdom about resentment.