She died on July 1, 2010. I’ve been struggling to find her inspiration in myself these past months. I’ve known it’s there. She planted it. And everything she plants… grows. But I needed time. Now, the seasons are changing, the world around me is slow dancing toward a more dormant phase, preparing for the coming winter, and me, oddly enough, I feel like I’m coming to life again. I just celebrated a birthday. That may have something to do with it. Just over 50 years ago, she gave birth to me. And now, after she’s gone, I’m rebirthing the me that lives in a world without her.
I miss her every day, every moment. It doesn’t seem right or fair to be a daughter without a mother, no matter what age. People die. I know. But, that void in your heart and life that comes out of losing someone you love so dearly is tough getting used to. And “tough” isn’t nearly a strong enough a word for how it really feels.
I credit both my parents with my desire to make things, but Mom’s favorite things had a way of finding their way into my creative work. She had this connection with the natural world that made her magical to me — and an appreciation for the simple joys — it was just the way she lived, who she was. Too, she had a gentleness about her that I’ve known in no other person I have ever met. She was soft and comforting and smelled of love, like the pillow you sleep on.
With her quiet and unassuming ways, you wouldn’t think she would have the capacity for such strength, but she was a warrior fighting her cancer. Everyday, in her simple, accepting, matter of fact way, she never gave up. It was just something she had to do — another weed in her garden to tend to. In the end, she beat it. Don’t get me wrong, she still had cancer when she died, and it was very close to taking her, but it didn’t. Mom’s death had more to do with her strong will and independent nature. I’ve had a difficult time accepting that, because I was there when she fell. I was there when she hit her head. I was there, and I couldn’t save her.
Those early days of July 2010 will be part of me forever. I’ve searched for answers and found there are none that give me any more peace than what I already know. Death is part of life, and life is what it is, and that we get to experience it, with all its wonder and love and joy and amazingness, is pretty cool. Faith? Yes, I have faith. I look at our beautiful world as a gift from God, and it was Mom that made me able to see it. I believe she’s in heaven, whatever that is, but I also believe that God gives us glimpses of heaven every moment on this very earth, and too many of us are blind to it. Whatever awaits after this life, we need not worry over. More time should be spent in appreciation of now.
It don’t want to mourn her loss. I want to celebrate her gifts. I’m finally ready to go forward, carrying her in my heart, being great at being not so great, and doing what I do — painting and writing, simple happy things that give people maybe one moment to share a smile with someone else. Those moments are important, and I’m going to keep making them, because in those moments, angels are at work and one of them is my Mom.
In memory of June Hedberg, June 2, 1935 - July 1, 2010