Excerpted from When Every Day Matters: A Mother’s Memoir on Love, Loss and Life (Simple Abundance Press) on Amazon.

When you really want to pray for something and you do not receive it, you tend to believe that your prayer was not answered….it is true that at times your prayer is not answered in a direct way ….Unknown to you, that prayer has secretly worked on another aspect of the situation and effected a transfiguration which may become visible only at a later stage.

~John O’Donohue~ Eternal Echoes

July 14, 1999

Dear Katie,

Today you have been gone four days.  There is no part on my body that does not hurt.  I am overwhelmed with missing you and the thought of what lies ahead.  I feel like no one will ever know how I feel about losing you, my sweet and precious Katie.  Can you see me now?  Are you safe now?  Where are you, Katie?  Where did you really go?  If I could only know the answers to those questions, I might be able to survive.

We hoped that this day would never ever come, Katie.  But it did come and now you are gone.  We are no longer together in this world.  It is final and I will never see you again.  This thought fractures me.  People said your funeral Mass was beautiful.  Was it?  I only know that you are not here.  I don’t care about the Mass or anything really.  I don’t care if I wake up tomorrow.  For what is here for me to wake up to?

You once told me that you prayed all the time.  So did I, Katie, but most of my prayers went unanswered; the obvious one being that you are not with me anymore.  And without you, just who am I anyway?  Nothing I have ever experienced compares with losing you.  It is the worse thing a mother can go through: the loss of her precious child.  I am on the cross, Katie.  The finality of your death has put me there.  Years from now, will people look up and still see me hanging there?  What if I come down?  Come down and then what?  You will still not be here.

As I see it, there are several choices in front of me.  I can be absent from my present life and the lives others who need and love me and whom I need and love.  I can give up the future and live in my past memories.  Or I can accept the beauty and the bounty that I learned from being your mother and trust that I will survive without you.  I do not know which choice will be mine, Katie.

I’m feeling very much that I want my own company.  I do not feel up to talking with other people.  I’m going to do what I feel I have to do to make it through my dark night.  Recently I have heard horror stories about how people forget the memories that made up their life.  What a terrible thought that was for me to hear.  I took it to heart.   So, for right now, my only goal will be to get out of bed and write down some memories of my life so that I do not forget.  I think I will begin when you were born, Katie; maybe throw in some of my childhood years while I’m at it.  I need to do this.  I need to survive.  Put my thoughts on paper, my feet down on the floor and survive.

Love, Mom



Mary Jane Hurley Brant

Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S.,CGP, is a practicing psychotherapist for 37 years who specializes in grief. She is author of the book, When Every Day Matters: A Mother’s Memoir of Love, Loss and Life. In this first person narrative M.J. addresses the suicide of her father when she was 13 and the life and death of her daughter, Katie, of a brain tumor. She is the founder of Mothers Finding Meaning Again. MJ can be reached through her website www.MaryJaneHurleyBrant.com

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