The Goodbye That Was Never Said


The Goodbye That Was Never Said

 Today is day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  This post is particularly difficult and personal to me.  It is something that I wrote after the death of my mother.  Few of us are fortunate to have no regrets or things left unsaid when losing a parent.  I wrote this to give voice to the things that I learned as a result and I hope that it will affect you in a way that will make you take action.


My sister- in- law’s eyes gave away the secret before she began to step back behind my brother’s broad shoulders. “Renee, mama’s gone…..” , he uttered as he watched my body involuntarily heave over. It was not entirely unexpected. Mama had been hospitalized once again for heart failure and all I could do was think about the smile that she had on her face when I last visited her. I could see her outstretched hands reaching towards me with a sense of peace that she somehow knew that her days on this earth were coming to an end.

Almost as soon as I arrived, it was time to leave. I didn’t get a chance to hold her, to hug her and let her know that I did love her; that our past disagreements meant nothing to me. I begin in earnest to make a bargain with God; that I would strive to be everything that my mother wanted me to be. I would go back to church and get saved. Whatever the price was, I was willing to pay.

We were just beginning to find common ground with my daughter being the glue that held our previously frayed relationship together. But it wasn’t meant to be. Her fate was decided by someone greater than I so I was left to sort out my feelings of loss, sadness and regret alone even though there were nine other siblings. Each of us had our own burden to carry, having to listen to mine would only make theirs heavier. This was not the time for that; so we all grieved as we silently pondered our own perceived culpability in the loss of our mother.

I had never feared death until it was visited upon someone close to me. Up until that time, I had never been to a funeral. For twenty five years, I had been spared the awfulness, the finality of a journey that we all must take and there are no words to describe the abject horror of seeing a loved one laying lifelessly in a box; no matter how ornate or beautifully handcarved, but a box nonetheless. As I stood in front of her and reminding myself that this was just a shell of the person who was my mother and that her spirit now resided in my heart, I struggled to find the words to express how much I would miss her.

I still miss her twenty nine years later. I marvel at her genius in raising ten children and managing to retain her sanity. I wish that I had the opportunity to tell her how much she meant to me and that as a parent, I realize that no one is perfect. I want her to know that I am healing from the wounds of my past and I’ve learned from them. I want her to know that I am still striving to become whole. I believe in the power of forgiveness and the reality that we can all have new beginnings; that whatever fractured relationship that we are now experiencing it can be healed.

The grave is not the place to ask for forgiveness or to negotiate better relationships. If you have someone in your life that you need to talk to: Do it today. Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. Don’t wait. Tomorrow may be too late…..tomorrow may not include the person who is waiting for your call….. today.



Renee King
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  • Harriet Stack
    Posted at 13:07h, 19 July Reply

    Thank you for your generosity in sharing this painful lesson.

    • Renee
      Posted at 15:30h, 19 July Reply

      Harriet….Thank you for listening…..

  • Nikki Riddle
    Posted at 18:08h, 19 July Reply

    So beautifully written, Renee. Your words are very inspiring. I have lost 5 family members I love dearly within the last year and it is never easy, whether you are prepared for it or not. I truly think that there are always words left unspoken and things that we wish we could go back and re-do, or even do. It sounds like your mother lives on in you =) You are so right when you say that tomorrow is not promise. Those of us who have seen loss understand that every day is so very precious. Every moment is. Thank you for the reminder for me, and for everyone reading, that we need to express our love to the ones in our life today. Again, beautiful blog.

    • Renee King
      Posted at 11:30h, 22 August Reply

      Oh, Nikki……I am so very sorry to hear about your loss! Your comment means so much to me…I appreciate you coming by! Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Athena Brady
    Posted at 18:12h, 19 July Reply

    A lovely post Renee, so full of love.

  • Patricia Lynn
    Posted at 18:24h, 19 July Reply

    Beautiful post – thanks for the reminder. Love your site! I will be back!

    • Renee
      Posted at 13:58h, 21 July Reply

      Thanks, Patricia!

  • BJ
    Posted at 22:28h, 04 August Reply

    To share something like that, Renee, for a blog challenge. I’m speechless.

    So personal and touching and really, I don’t have the words to articulate how I was impacted by reading that. You opened up in a way that many would fear to even dream of doing.

    You’re clearly an amazing person – for a sea of reasons. Thank you for sharing that with us.

    I’m blown away.

    • Renee
      Posted at 15:58h, 06 August Reply


      Thank you for your kind words. I have to say that the challenge challenged me in ways I had not expected. While it was difficult to share that event in my life, it was also a wake up call to others who still have that chance to reach out to someone. Regret is a terrible thing, but in this instance it can be avoided.

  • Monica
    Posted at 10:34h, 03 November Reply


    I hadn’t read this before and just saw it come up on my FB timeline.

    Beautifully written and heartfelt. It’s hard for us…daughters, I mean…to sometimes find the courage to stand up and separate ourselves from our moms because, often, we are so much alike that it pains both parties when daughters choose their own paths.

    Thanks for reminding me, through your beautiful words, to treasure the time I’ve still got with my mom and to look past our differences. God bless.

    • Renee King
      Posted at 07:31h, 04 November Reply


      You are so right about the complex relationship between mothers and daughters. I’m glad that you are still able to tell your mom the things that you need to….and for recognizing that this was not as much a tribute for the dead than it was a cautionary tale for the living. Thanks for coming by, sis!

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