This is one of my favorite photos. It was taken on Easter Sunday, just a few months before my mom passed. She was going thru a particularly difficult chemo round and most days, just getting out of bed was a struggle. This Easter Sunday was one of them. When I went to her apartment to pick her up for brunch with Pete, she was still in bed and said she didn’t think she could make it up that day. We decided to abandon our brunch/church plans and just spend a low key day in the apartment.
Until, in one very “Ellen-like” moment of energy, determination, and sheer-will, she looked me in the eye and said, “Forget this, its Easter, I’m getting out of bed and we’re going to have brunch.” And we did. Not without her instructions to first “put some water on for tea and go find my pearls.” All she needed was a ‘nice cup of tea’ and her set of pearls… Because there was very little that a cup of tea couldn’t cure – and Ellen rarely went anywhere without her pearls. Sort of like her suit of armor.
It took over an hour to get her ready and out the door, but she did it. Because she decided nothing was going to stop her from enjoying this beautiful day in our own special way: getting dressed up for brunch at Sarabeth’s and spending the rest of the afternoon strolling around the gardens at the Central Park Conservatory. And thats where this photo was taken. Reminding me of not only my mom’s strength that day, but of her determination to make the most of every single day (even the ugly days) and bring out the best in each one possible. And we did.
And thats what I choose to remember on days like today. On the anniversary of her passing. Not her sickness or the loss I still feel so strongly – but of that determined look in her eye that day – the one that reminds me that even the ugly periods are laced with good and if we can just sum up the energy and strength, we can bring out the good bits – even on those days when we feel like just crawling up and hiding under the covers.
So, even today, when I’m feeling her absence so keenly and the desire to tune the world out for the day seems so tempting (and probably what I did this time last year), this year I’m taking notes from my mom. I’m making my cup of tea and going for a leisurely walk in the park in the sunshine. But not before I grab my set of pearls…