October 26, 2019

In Loving Memory of my mom, Susan Kay | 10 Year Anniversary

This is one of the most personal posts I’ll probably ever share on my blog. It’s taken me about 2 months to write& felt therapeutic for me. I hope it gives encouragement or perspective to whoever reads this! Without further ado, here’s a letter to my sweet mom who’s been with Jesus for the past 10 years. 

Dear mom,

10 years. Wow. I feel like I blinked and the time has passed. So much life has happened. You’ve missed so much. Losing Grandpa Roy a year after you, graduating high school, a boy breaking my heart broken for the first time, loosing Grandpa Ed, learning what it looked like to walk with Jesus, studying abroad in Luxembourg, having SO much fun making friends & memories in college, falling in love with my now husband, navigating friendships & conflict, graduating college, getting married to Drew, losing Grandma Gorman while on our honeymoon, starting my first “big girl” job, starting my own business, losing Grandma Katie, moving to a new state, having refugee foster kids…just to name a few.

Mourning you has been different in each stage of my life and has happened with each new “milestone” listed above + then some. Graduating high school and getting married without you were real sucker punches because they’ve been my biggest transitions so far. I go back and forth to milestones feeling like a slap in the face reminder that you’re not here to being at peace. I anticipate that, Lord willing, when we have kids of our own that’ll feel really hard to not have you there either.

At times I envy others who are close with their moms. Sometimes I want YOU and sometimes it’s just the idea of having a mom. But I’ve also experience the sweet love, grace, and care of so many other women who have all stepped in to fill that void. I’m grateful for that.

I’ve felt sad/guilty the few times I’ve forgotten your birthday (August 16th) or “death anniversary” (October 26th)…not exactly sure what to call that day haha. Even though I’ve felt guilt/sad when I’ve forgotten, I know there’s good in that because I’m living life fully which is what you would have wanted anyway.

Your death sure did spring me into responsibility/adulthood sooner than I was ever anticipating but I’ve always viewed that as a blessing. It’s helped me serve + bless so many people and drawn me closer to the Lord. It also stunted me in some ways (like over serving/not taking care of myself, struggling to find my identity in what I can do for others verses my identity in Christ , etc.) but by God’s grace I’ve been inching back to a “healthy middle.” Marriage and counseling have helped that tremendously!!

I remember the night and week we lost you. I’m so glad I could serve you in one last way to do that and that dad or the boys (for readers: the boys are my two older brothers Aaron & Daniel. They are grown men but mom always called them “the boys” haha) didn’t have to be the ones to find you. I wish you weren’t alone when you went to heaven but I know God met you there. For the first few years after you passed that made me really sad. Were you scared? Did you know what was happening? What were you thinking/feeling? Was it quick? I have a peace about it now- that you were at peace. No more pain and suffering from MS…while you still had some dignity and capabilities.

I remember feeling so close to the Lord that week…like He was actually holding me in the palm of His hand. I cried on the floor of my bedroom & on the shower floor a lot that week. Crying is such a freeing and necessary part of grieving. It was hard to comprehend what happened/ that it was our new reality now. It honestly felt surreal for the first few years… like you’d just walk in the door some day and it’d all go back to “normal.”

We had a line out the room, down the stairs, and into the parking lot for hours at your viewing. We were all BLOWN AWAY by how our community rallied around us. People literally brought meals for dad and I close to 5 months after you passed. My field hockey team made a plaque and dedicated a little garden to you. That plaque is now in the garden at home, which I love.

Your funeral was absolutely incredible and such a sweet way to honor you. Our high school choir sang, one of the boys’ friends played the bag pipes and we had perfect weather. The church was PACKED with people. For your funeral, dad asked me and the boys to write you a tribute. It felt really hard to find the words. Grandma Gorman talked to me on the phone and encouraged me to write down anything/everything I ever regretted regarding you. Once I got all that out on paper, I wrote a pretty darn good speech if I do say so myself. 4 years later on a mission trip in Africa, I burned that letter. It felt so healing and like I could finally let go of that baggage.

I failed every single test in school for about a month following your death. My teachers were so gracious and patient with me, and I really needed that. It was like there was a mental block and I couldn’t remember anything- I was just in survival mode. That’s when I dove into yearbook and photography. You passed away the same day my field hockey season ended so I had SO much time on my hands! I stayed after school most days diving into the work…it was a good and constructive escape for me. And forced me to be around people still which we all know I need!!

I’m thankful that whenever I see black eyed susans, or read Isaiah 57:1-2, or hear Aunt Kristie’s laugh, or eat Panera, or drop popcorn in the couch that I think of you. I wish I remembered more about you. 10 years feels like a long time and sometimes I can’t even remember what I ate the day before haha.

Thank you for loving me well the 15 years I had with you. Thanks for teaching me all about Jesus, the power of hospitality, to laugh every day, and to not make a hodgepodge meal of everything in the fridge because people will STILL joke about how disgusting it was 10 years later haha. I can’t wait to share your legacy with our kids someday. I have pictures of you on our fridge and the transitional foster kiddos ask about you. I like that…that you’re still being remembered and talked about.

Losing you and so many others in our family has given me such a sweet perspective for my job. Being a photographer isn’t just about pretty pictures (but, that is definitely a perk!), it’s about capturing PEOPLE and moments…the ones that will help us remember our loved ones, help us to pass on their legacy, help us to mourn, and help us to celebrate. Photographs of you and our loved ones are my most treasured possessions.

I’m thankful that one day I will be reunited with you in heaven when the Lord calls me home, but for now I’m so incredibly thankful for the sweet life and story the Lord has given me. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but I know I’m being refined and sanctified every step of the way.  Hope you’re doing a jig in heaven today! We sure do miss you!!

All my love,

Monica Anne

Our last picture together my sophomore year homecoming. Our family cat, Oreo, photo bombing per usual haha

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  1. Lee Bell says:

    Precious! Thank you for sharing so elloquently. I lost my mom fairly young as well.

  2. Barb Burger says:

    Absolutely beautiful tribute to your beautiful momma. We loved Susan so much that we entrusted her with our most treasured “possession”, Grace. Can not thank her enough for helping with that first time Mom anxiety I had! She certainly is missed and thought of often-and most of all Loved💕
    Thank you for sharing her!