I can hardly believe that two years ago today I uttered the last three words I'd ever say to my Mom - "I love you." The picture above was the last known photo taken of the two of us, from Christmas two years prior. Finding that a few weeks after her death was one of the greatest gifts I've ever received...and by accident no less! I never knew the heartbreak, loneliness, and overwhelming feeling of just being lost that comes from losing a parent. So, it's hard to grasp that so much time has already passed, and how long ago it sometimes feels, but also how often it feels like only yesterday.
For the majority of you, who had never met my amazing Mom, or the Mujjie, she was brilliant. I know everyone says they have the "best Mom ever" but I truly did. I am thankful for every one of the 28-ish years I got to have her in my life. I've alluded to her kind and loving ways in a recent post, but still struggle to do her justice.
Last year, the "one year mark" was spent concluding my first week in Ghana. I think I was still quite numb and unaware of what had happened the year before. This year I just feel sad. I feel almost like it's happened all over again. I can't believe how much I miss her, because it's far more than I ever knew possible. Our last time together was one of the greatest we'd had. It was uncharacteristic, as were most things she did on that last day. I can't help but think that she somehow knew.
Here's the eulogy I gave at her funeral. This is followed by a copy of the obituary, which my brother and I had far too much fun creating! (What?! She was pretty awesome!) Hopefully it will give those who didn't have the chance to meet her an opportunity to get to know her a little.
"I don’t know where to begin, or even how to start to explain how incredible The Mujjie, as I for some unknown reason started calling her, is...was. Each of you in this room have obviously been touched in someway by something she has done or said. Over the past few days the stories and memories that have been shared have been nothing short of remarkable.
As some of you know, a week ago today, I said goodbye to my Gramma. I never thought that in the span of a week I’d also be saying goodbye to my Mom. But, the thing is, just when I thought a “huge-y” or “gigantic” as she would say, chunk of my support system was gone, I began to realize just how many of you in this room would take on that role. While no one can match the love and compassion of the Mujjie, what I have experienced these past few days would have made her smile.
Mom had an incredible knack for getting those around her to see some form of positivity even when it appeared as though there was none to be found.
She made the world a brighter place, and now it is up to each and every one of us to keep her spirit alive, in an effort to try to attempt to keep her light shining. She was beautiful and smart, kind and funny. She cared about everyone and every thing. Heck, even in the tragedy of the event which lead to her death, it seemed as though she made sure the man in the other vehicle would be okay. She was my rock. My best friend. She was everything. And we were everything to - her especially her ‘Honey’! Some might even argue that she was a saint! She would do anything just to make someone smile or laugh. She taught us to be strong and understanding. To be supportive and most importantly to have fun and to treat yourself - especially to a good cup of coffee from time to time!
Mom never had “a favourite,” although I used to love teasing her that Mike was in fact the “#1 child!” She loved us equally and for different reasons! She proudly supported whatever either of us were working on, from researching new and revised recipes when hearing about my allergy diagnosis, to posting my “Unofficial National Hoildays” blogs to Facebook, or when I started my thesis and she automatically jumped on board telling everyone that they should stop drinking bottled water, despite the fact she didn’t necessarily know why! She just knew I would eventually figure it out and tell her. And with Mike, whether it be his endeavours with the Awesome Foundation, one of his many volunteer related events, or some well deserved award, she was always right there, smiling and proud as could be!
She also had the oddest sense of humour that, I, thankfully, have inherited. Upon reflecting on some of my own memories this week, I recalled her (our) first experience with a Keurig coffee maker. Yes, it was my Grandfather’s visitation. Yes, it was probably completely inappropriate. But, we had a blast showing everyone how to use it, and occasionally we would share!
One of my favourite childhood memories was having her read to us. Mind you, this never really ended at childhood. I think she read me a story one of the last few times I was home.
Another was something we often joked about with her – her love of crafts! Not only did she love doing crafts on her own, with Mike and I, or with friends, she also used to love inviting the entire neighborhood in for an afternoon of crafting! And these weren’t just silly little projects, either! No, I’m talking felt Ninja Turtle Christmas tree ornaments with googly eyes, cookie decorating and even pumpkin carving! We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but who needs money with a mom like that?! She gave us everything, sometimes foregoing meals to ensure Mike and I were both fed, and she loved us more than anyone could ask for. I still to this day can’t figure out how she could have ever thought she wasn’t a good mom. Although, to an extent it’s true. She wasn’t just a good mom, or even a great mom – she was the BEST mom! Knowing I could and occasionally did have full conversations with myself mimicking the responses she would most likely have said, she would always laugh and respond with one of 2 statements: “You know me” and when I nailed that one: “You won’t miss me when I’m gone, because you know exactly what I’ll say.” Little did she know that those silly conversations will never be enough to replace her actually being there.
Two weeks ago I awoke from a dream where I was in Tanzania, at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, living my dream. Today, I will begin to work twice as hard to ensure that the goals and accomplishments I have shared with the Mujjie are realized. She supported my return to school, even sacrificing her own education in order to help me, and with only one year remaining, this one will be for her! I know she will be with me, making sure I stay true to myself, and the dreams I have yet to accomplish."In memory of my amazing Mom, I started The Judy C Kennedy Project. Its purpose is to collect as many random acts of kindness, or "Judy's" as possible in the hope of encouraging and inspiring others to do good in the world around them. At the very least, the stories that have been shared are a true reflection of what my Mom would do on a daily basis. I think she'd be quite proud of all of those who have contributed!
|Despite the sadness of the overall situation, I think my brother and I channelled Mom's humour not only into|
the obituary, but also her funeral. I'm not sure people are supposed to laugh as hard as they did at such places...
|'Like' The Judy C Kennedy Project on Facebook, if you haven't already!|
"I am thankful for everything in my life."-the Orange Canadian