It's seems weird to write about this, but my feelings are raw and real and I need to write for therapy. I always wondered what this would feel like, today my mom passed away. She has been staying in an assisted living home for the past couple of months, only a couple miles from my home. My sister Sonya, (mother Theresa) got the call from moms bishop that mom needed to be placed in assisted living after her last fall, and Sonya decided driving a couple hours one way everyday to take care of her in Phoenix was a little too much for her, so she made the decision to move mom to this side of town. A few months before my diagnosis with cancer my step father, Gary died and I was asked by my mother's best friend Susan to please come to the hospital and be with her, I hesitated because besides a couple of hateful letters I had received over the years, (one that almost put me in a mental hospital, I have Debbie Slade and President Lesueuer to thank for that not happening) it had at that time already been 17 years since I had any contact with either one of them, per my mother's request. 6 months before Gary died, I was at the Temple and out of the blue had a feeling of forgiveness come over me stronger than I had ever felt before, I searched for an email or someway to contact him and let him know. It simply read "Dear Dad, I want you to know I have forgiven you. I have a beautiful family 3 girls and 1 boy we live in Gilbert Arizona and are very happy. I hope you are happy too." Love Monya within 6 months he passed away and I was at his bedside. My choice to be at his bedside did not have a lot to do with him, but more to do with mending the relationship with my mother.
I will never forget walking into that hospital room with my 4 children, my sisters chose not to go and I never judged them for that, in fact Sonya begged me not to go, she is very protective over me and knows I get my hopes up, only to be crushed, and the depression, guilt and heartache start all over again. She is wise, but I did not listen. I went anyway, it was a tremendously grotesque experience to have my children watch as they pulled the plug on him, it was as if he was fighting to go to the other side, it honestly is what I imagined a person with a demon inside of them trying to get out would look like--I have questioned my motherly instinct on that one for years now.....not a good idea. But the one thing that struck me and has stayed with me over all these years is that my mother showed no emotion what so ever--NONE. I spoke with her bishop and told him Eric and I would be willing to help with whatever arrangements needed to be done, hugged my mom and said good bye. The next day she called me to find out about meeting her at the funeral home, I replied "Yes mom I would love to help you, what time would you like me to pick you up?" and then it came, that voice, it rings in my ears I can still hear her "Monya, I still have one more thing I need to say to you...." the sarcasm and stinch in her voice let me know this was not going to go well...I quickly responded "mom, please not now, your husband just died yesterday, can we please just let this go, I want a clean start with you" she abruptly interrupted me and said "You ruined our lives with your lies, and your father was forgiven for what he did" obviously my next question was "what was he forgiven for? according to you and he both, he never did anything wrong? blah blah blah this led to a huge bowl of tears on my part and I immediately called her bishop to tell him, this was not going to work and he would have to get someone else to go to the funeral home and help her tomorrow, one of my kids called Sonya and told her what had happened as I wept like a baby wanting to be coddled by their mother. Sonya took measures into her own hands, called my mom and, well lets just say she finally was able to give her a little bit of her own medicine, all in defense of me. I love Sonya for that. A few months later came my cancer diagnosis and of course Sonya was protective, not allowing mom to come to the hospital or make life anymore stressful than I needed it to be. I simply have put the whole ordeal behind me and not looked back, I knew and still do know that my mother is stubborn, that pride will never allow her to say she's sorry, if she did then she would have to do something about it, and that was out of the question for her.
The past month I have realized while reading the Infinite Atonement that I needed to forgive my mother. I have asked myself over and over again, "how can you forgive your father who beat you as a three year old and as a result made you deaf in one ear?" 'how can you forgive the stepfather who abused you, but not be able to forgive your own mother?" Theses questions have haunted me as I have studied the Atonement and tried desperately to comprehend why a mother would walk away from her children and grandchildren, why did she stay with a man who could do such heinous things to her very own flesh and blood. All these years, all I have ever wanted to hear from her was "I'm sorry, this is not your fault, and wish it had never happened" or just "I'm sorry" that would of been sufficient. I was never granted those simple words, or the words "I love you" One day recently while at the Temple I had that overwhelming feeling again that I needed to let her know I had forgiven her, this is all the Lord asks of us, to Love One Another and to forgive as he did. Knowing I am about to have another major surgery, I realized I do have one last regret I need to take care of, I need to let her know how I feel, to let her know I have forgiven her and that I know the Lord will take care of all of this mess one day. I was not expecting anything in return, but my heart had finally been softened enough to acknowledge my weakness in not granting her the forgiveness I have in my heart for all these years of heartache and pain.
Two things happened, 1st I sent a text to my visiting teachers asking them if they would help me, I wanted them to come with me to the assisted living home while I spoke with her, I felt this was the best way and felt the safest for me personally. I purposefully did not tell my family, not even Eric or Sonya that I was planning this for Friday the 14th this week. I have wonderful visiting teachers Kathi Cluff who I adore and admire so much, she is not only beautiful physically but have always looked to her for an example of true Christ like love. Marian Priday, is my other visiting teacher, I love her and have complete faith and assurance in confidentiality with her knowing she will always give me the best advice and help in anyway she can.
The 2nd thing that happened was last weekend I took my girls to a women's convention in downtown Phoenix called Time Out For Women, there were over 5500 women in attendance. During the very 1st speaker I was so emotional Brad Wilcox was the speaker, he spoke of the Atonement and how to use it in our lives, it felt as though he was speaking to me, and only me, like I was the only one in the room. He said The Atonement is a Gift, no one made or forced Christ to die for our sins, HE chose it.
and this is literally what I wrote in my note book "The spirit is so strong, my heart is pounding, I cannot get my mom off of my mind" Let go of willpower and rely on HIS power, turn towards HIM-HE is the light. My life end goal of enduring to the end is to become more like HIM, to lead a more Christ like life in all that I do and say.
Can people change?
Not without God-
Alone we will fail-
with God all things are possible-
my next line of notes really hit me tonight--
YES--I can do this-through the Atonement of Christ I can face my fears, I can face my mother, and in the holiest of a pure heart I can tell her "I forgive you" and expect nothing in return.
Heaven is not a prize for the perfect, but the future home of all who are willing to be perfected.
Yesterday, I thought about my brother all day, it has been 26 years since his death, he would of been 42 in January. This is a night I will never forget, Veterans Day has always been a special day to me now. That night having to tell my parents their only son had died in their home while they were out of town, was hard. It was a defining moment in my life.
Today, as I sat holding my little grandson, my sister Sonya sent me a text that read "can you talk?" I did not respond knowing Kayla was soon leaving and I just wanted a few more minutes with Ezra. As soon as Kayla left, I got the 2nd text saying my mom was in Banner Gateway Hospital and for me to come, she was not going to make it--I rushed over there, walked in the solemn room, quiet and with a smell of sickness and death--I stood by her side, told her "Mom, its Monya and I'm here--mom I forgive you" within just a few more very deep breaths the sounds of the flat lines on the machine went off and she was gone. Sonya, Greg and myself alone in a room with a woman who had caused so much pain in our lives, suddenly I felt the pains of devastation--now I know what that feels like, its not having been abused, that can be fixed and forgiven, its not having cancer, it's a family ripped apart, because of pride, a daughter of our Heavenly Father wanting so badly to have a relationship with her mother, call her for a recipe, talk about spiritual moments, share the blessings of an eternal family--just ripped in half--all over PRIDE.
This earth is our school of learning, and I am saying from an authentic place, that I need to pray for myself to heal my heart from the hurt and pain my mom and dad have caused--help change ME--don't worry anymore about changing HER--The Atonement will allow all of me to change for good--I choose to be authentic, I choose to forgive, I choose to live like the Savior.
Today, if I am absolutely authentic, I had so many emotions go through me--why? why? couldn't my mom say "I'm sorry?" Why, was I not given 2 more days to express my feelings to her? Was the Lord protecting me from more pain? When the disciples prayed with Christ in his last days they were filled with desire--am I filled with desire? what is that desire? Because when I am sitting in this hospital room I want to scream out loud, I'm so mad. After everyone left, I asked if I could have a few minutes with my mom. My sisters Sonya and Kris had spent much time with her the past couple of months, and even they were ready to move on and go. When the door shut, I asked Eric to stay with me, I held my moms hand, talked about how small she was, 88 pounds, and kissed her on the forehead, with a final "I forgive you" Eric and I held her hand and he offered one of the sweetest prayers I have ever heard, I did not expect that from him, he has always had such pain and anger towards my parents for what they had put me through, but tonight that side of him was gone and the spirit of healing began. I wept, and could not control my emotions--so this is how this feels...