Five years ago, we were trying to keep my mom comfortable as she peacefully passed away. We tried to make every day, leading up to her last breath, an incredible day filled with loving and sweet moments.

As I look back on that time of the worst sadness I have ever known and the difficult task of actually letting her go, I'm filled with a sense of deep gratitude and peace. Many things have changed since she left us, but that doesn't mean the changes have all been bad, some have been amazing and lead each of us to a better sense of who we are and our place in this world.

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Leslie Morgan

For some of her grandchildren in the above photo, quite a few things have happened that moved them into or toward adulthood. For instance, My daughter became a leader in a major company, got married, and had her first child; my middle son graduated from IU, found the love of his life, and got his first art teaching job; and my youngest son, after some critical and scary bumps on his life path, graduated high school and discovered how mentally strong he is and how much his grandmother had influenced his young life.

All of these things would have happened if mom were still alive too, but having them happen after she passed made them more meaningful and not taken for granted. The life events, and their meaning, soaked in a little deeper because they were living those moments, not just with her, but FOR her.

I have found that to be true for me as well. There are times I feel like she is right next to me, and she might be. Just because I can't physically hug her or feel her hand touch my hair, doesn't mean the force and power of her love isn't felt. In fact, it's felt more.

Throughout the day, I will even laugh out loud when I remember something she said or something she did that was funny. Things we laughed at together. Deep conversations we had and support that we shared. But, if she were still alive, I wouldn't think of those things as often. I wouldn't be filled with as much gratitude and love because I would be taking for granted that she would always be here, alive and well. It's just what we do.

Leslie Morgan and Mom

Now, the memory of her is a force that lives within me. A forceful calm that seems to assure me that all will be ok. It's a feeling of extreme comfort and safety, just like she always gave me when she was alive, but now even more powerful and meaningful, I just can't see it. 

Leslie Morgan

As she lay in her living room, bravely accepting and gracefully easing into death, she was teaching me. She couldn't talk to me, but I felt it. I tried to imagine what was going through her mind. Was she scared? Was she sad to be leaving all of us? Sad to be leaving me? Or, as a woman of faith, was she excited?

Sometimes, as she was laying there seemingly asleep, she would smile. It gave me an enormous sense of peace. I imagined that she was looking forward to seeing her deceased parents, and little brother again. I couldn't help but smile, too.

She was beautiful, intelligent, funny, caring, giving, adventurous, mischievous, confident, strong, creative, and so very brave. The gifts that God gave her, she used to enlighten and bring joy to all around her and she continues to do it even beyond her last breath.

Mom has been gone for five years, yet sometimes it seems like she never left. She loves with all of us, her children, grandchildren, even friends, and coworkers. She was a force of everything good and kind, who filled each day with love.

Leslie Morgan's tattoo in her mom's handwriting.


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