One week ago today my friend Dana died suddenly and unexpectedly in her sleep. We still don't know exactly what happened. She was my age, 49. Actually Dana was one month and eleven days younger than me! She was healthy, fit, vibrant, full of energy, and lit up a room when she entered it.
She was also an amazing mom! Her two boys are 14 and 18. Her older son is one of my son's college roommates. Her younger son is in my high school daughter's freshman class; they've been friends since 5th grade. Last semester her son and my daughter both homeschooled. They did their science and math classes together, and I grew even closer to Dana during that time. Their math teacher was a nursing mom who often nursed her baby in the sling during class time. Sometimes it was a little awkward for a 14 year old boy. But Dana told him that he had nursed and how completely natural it was.
It's always hard when kids leave the nest, but Dana did all she could to make it a smooth transition. We all went down to help our boys get moved in (there are 3 roommates who all played HS soccer together). She made frequent Sam's runs so the boys would have plenty of food. After the last shopping trip, her son said "I love You" before he headed back to school. She told him that she loved him, too. That was the last time he saw her.
Dana did a great job of raising two incredible young men of faith who have the resources necessary to make it through this time. We never know how long we'll be given to enjoy and love our kids. Sometimes mothering can be overwhelming. You feel like if you have to change another diaper, wipe another snotty nose or mediate another sibling fight, you'll go stark-raving mad. But when you're right in the middle of that, remember what a gift your kids are. Remember what a gift life is. And pause for a minute; then say "I love you."