Recently, two beautiful mothers of children in our middle son’s high-school graduating class passed away. Both Nadine Kruk, 50, and Joan Hruby, 55, were known for their bright smiles and warm dispositions. They are greatly missed.
Both also have sons near the age my father was, 19, at the time of his mother’s death in her 50s. The youngest boy in a family of 11, Dad had been especially close to his mom. I remember hearing stories of how the two would talk late into the night over a shared bowl of strawberry ice cream.
As a little girl, I imagined Grandma Mary, whom I never got to meet, lovingly looking down on me from heaven. I still suspect she’s partially responsible for some of the blessings we’ve experienced, given what a prayerful, devoted woman of faith she was.
Moments before Dad died in 2013 — I was holding his hand — I reminded him he’d be seeing his mother again soon. Someday, I hope to join them both on the other side of the veil, and I look forward to beholding my Grandma Mary’s face for the first time.
But today, I’m thinking mostly of the three sons these mothers collectively left recently when they released their grasp from this world. I feel certain these two moms would have stayed longer if given a choice, if only to mother their sons another day.
I can bring little solace to those sweet young men, but I do recall some wisdom from my friend Laura Espejo, who died of cancer 22 years ago at age 39. Laura had the foresight to leave her four children albums filled with memories. And one day before her death, at our faith-sharing gathering, she shared a sentiment she wanted most to impart to them: “I will always be your mom.”
Only time can heal the great loss we feel when our loved ones die — and even that, imperfectly. But there is something deeper, and truer, than what we can hold in this world. It is love. And the love of a mother does not end at death. As Laura made explicit, a mother doesn’t stop being a mother after her heart stops beating. The soul lives on, and love with it.
I’d like to leave the same thought with Joan’s son, and Nadine’s two sons: Your mom is still your mom. Not even death can change that. The love she poured into you is within you still, and always will be. The umbilical cord that once fastened you to her can never be severed completely.
And now, the faith your mothers wanted to give you can be, if you choose it, the light that guides your steps into the future. “For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.” (2 Cor. 5:1)
Frank, Thane and Gavin — and all who’ve experienced recent losses — may God hold and bless you.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Dec. 5, 2022.]