It’s often on the most ordinary of days that lives change forever. It was on one of these ordinary days that my mother died in a freak accident. I was twenty years old, and not prepared for a lifetime without a mother. All the big moments of my life were still ahead of me-my wedding, my college graduation, future children, and who knows what else. It was difficult for me to imagine these events transpiring without her. I needed more from her than just twenty years. What I didn’t realize then was that she would give me more than twenty years.
Time has passed, I have gotten married, received a bachelor’s degree, and acutely felt the absence of my mother. However, I understand that though she is not physically here anymore, part of her does remain. Occasionally, I meet someone who knew my mother when she was my age, and they are struck by the resemblance. It’s a resemblance that I don’t think was there when I was a child. Her subtle presence can also be seen in the way my fingers stiffen when I’m angry. She did that too. More importantly, I have often felt her presence in mysterious ways.
The strongest indication that her spirit lives beyond death came last year on my twenty-sixth birthday. I was playing with one of my rabbits on the kitchen floor. I spun a plastic top I had bought for the rabbit to play with. We had it for about six months. It was supposed to light up as it spun, but it never once worked. That night it did though, and as it lit up and spun around it began to play “Happy Birthday.” My husband heard the music, and together we watched it. The top played “Happy Birthday” and stayed lit for several hours that night, and it never worked again. I knew my mother was there, and that the brief working of the broken top was her gift to me.
There are many lessons to learn about death. Life may pause momentarily for death, but it never stops completely, and the essence of a person’s life never completely dies either.
-Jennifer Swan, Portland, Maine