To my first love, my mother, Brenda Joy Buchanan-Sherrod
Born: September 26, 1956
Angel Wings Declared: October 5, 2001
“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.” ― Mitch Albom, For One More Day
On this day, eleven years ago, I said the first of many good byes to my beautiful mother. Today, I realize that she continues to live with me each day of my life. She will always have a special place in the landscape of my heart that can never be replaced.
A love letter to my mother:
I remember the day of your passing as if it were yesterday. The telephone rang at 5:00 a.m. I dashed out of bed for the telephone for what I thought was to be our daily telephone call to start the day. We started and ended each day on the telephone together. It was and continues to be one of the things that I miss with your absence. The sound of your beautiful laugh each morning was the true elixir for my soul. Oh, to hear you say, I love you Brandi Joy just one more time.
On October 5th, 2001, it wasn’t your voice that I heard. It was a hysterical scream informing me of your death during the night. I was standing in the dinning room of my home. My knees went weak and I lost my breath. I threw the telephone across the room as hard as I could and took off running out the front door. I ran as fast as I could down the street. I ran until I could no longer run. I fell to the ground and started to scream. I wanted it to be a bad dream. I wanted to go back to bed. I wanted to pretend that the call was a wrong number. Only, I knew that it wasn’t a bad dream. Your precious life was gone all too soon. We celebrated your 45th birthday the weekend before on my back patio. We celebrated your life for the last time. Today, I realize that we had no idea we were truly celebrating your life and all that you were and continue to be to so many. The loss of your beautiful presence in my WORLD has and continues to be one of the life changing/defining moments for me. You gave me everything.
As I walked back to the house, I went into auto pilot mode. I had to make telephone calls to inform the family of your death. I had to tell our sweet baby girl Bella and Little Logan that their beautiful MiMi was now in heaven. The services for you were incredibly beautiful. A large group of people gathered in Fort Worth to say goodbye to you. Then, we proceeded to take you home to Big Spring for your final ceremony and cremation. I met a woman at your service whom you were friends with in grade school. She delivered a card to me with a tiny cross that had been tarnished from the many years that carried it with her. She said you gave it to her. She had never forgotten you. She spoke of your kind nature, your beautiful spirit and your smile.
You gave me so much during your short life time. You gave me courage to fight for what I believed in. You gave me courage to go after my dreams (always encouraging me to dream big). You gave me the gift of true forgiveness for you could never hold a grudge. You gave me the gift of friendship. You taught me what it meant to be a good friend to another for you modeled this in your friendship with me. We were mother/daughter and best friends. I believe the first words you ever spoke to me went something like this – You can have anything you want in this world. You are strong. In essence, you gifted me with everything that you wanted for yourself.
It is in the darkness of my life that I continue to feel your presence. Always lifting me up and pushing me forward. I have been told by many throughout my lifetime that I have the gift of lighting up a room when I enter. If this is the case, I believe you had the gift strong enough to light up an entire village with your spirit.
At the time of your passing, I felt a sense of relief for I knew that your battle with addiction was over. I was so very proud of you for entering into a treatment program and trying to free yourself. I also understand today (more so than I have ever before) that I will never know the chains that bound you to addiction. I no longer seek to try and understand why your life had to end so soon. I am so incredibly thankful for your presence and all that you gave to me. We shared twenty eight wonderful and magical years of life together. And, in your passing, I continue to hear and feel your beautiful presence as I embark upon changes and chase after adventure and experience.
In honor of your life, I have placed a tiny portion of your ashes in three beautiful places in the U.S.: The Mountains of Boulder, CO (a tiny stream), The Ocean in San Fran and Cape Cod. This weekend, I will find a place by the water in Indonesia and leave yet another piece of your beautiful earthly presence. I will continue to take you to beautiful places and deliver until you are completely returned back to the ground/ocean.
The enclosed poem was read at the final services for my mother:
Do not stand at my grave and weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
~Mary Elizabeth Frye
As a family, we have moved on from this loss. Alas, we continue to feel her presence in the winds that blow, the gentle autumn rain and the soft stars that shine each night.
My mother’s spirit lives within me forever.