My Precious Little Girl

To my wise, strong, beautiful Angelique:

It seems, these days, that you and I can’t speak to each other for longer than a minute before one of us says something to upset the other.  Everything between us is out of sorts.  You won’t admit it to me, not in so many words, but I know you’re angry.  Why shouldn’t you be?  Your friends, your cousins, your classmates are all moving on.  They’re earning degrees and finding jobs and starting careers and you’re stuck babysitting your mother — watching her disappear a little bit more every day.  I know that this is something I say more than you want to hear, but it’s an agony to me to watch you suffer.  I want — I want so much to take your pain away.  I want to say something to make you feel better.  I want to jump up out of this damn hospital bed and be cancer free — and be your mother again.  “Did you water those plants on the front porch?”, “Have you cleaned up the living room?”, “Did you write thank you notes for your birthday presents?”

I want so much for things to be back like they were — but my wanting it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

I can’t take away your pain.  I can’t say anything to make it better.  I can’t get better myself.  I just can’t.

You know, sweetie, there’s nothing I can do to bring back the things you’ve lost, or safeguard the things you’re going to lose; but I can remind you of what you have — what you’ve always had.  Liqa, I want you to realize you’re surrounded by love and friendship.  If you learn that now you’ll be way ahead of your mother.  I didn’t realize how much other people cared about me until I got brain cancer.  I can promise you, beautiful girl, that people genuinely want to be there for you — they want to be there for you now and for the rest of your life.  You don’t have to make the mistakes I made when I was in my twenties, and thirties, and forties and fifties.  There’s no reason at all to try and take care of everything on your own.

You know, of course, that I understand what it’s like not to have a mother.  I lost your Nonni to Alzheimer’s when I was twenty-seven.  I know how much it hurts not to be able to share your accomplishments and heartaches with your mother.  You have so much to look forward to — you’ll wow people with your intelligence and successes, you’ll fall in love, you’ll fall out of love, you’ll find places to live and wonderful work to do and at every stage of life you’ll find a surprising new way to be the magnificent woman you are.  I won’t be around to share in it with you — except to say that I know what it’s like.

I’ll let you in on a little secret — it isn’t all bad.  It’s just different.  Life has a way of surprising you.  You never know where you might meet up with me again.

I was thinking, just last night, “Liqa won’t have a mother to help her pick out flowers for her wedding.”  You won’t — but maybe you will.  I remember the day I picked out my bridal bouquet.  The florist wanted to know sort of flower I wanted.  I was stumped … stumped until Nonni arrived.  She didn’t arrive in the store, of course, she arrived in my thoughts.  I remembered how, every May, she would pick Lily of the Valley from our side garden.  Always in May, of course, because that’s the only time they bloom.

So it was that every May my Mom placed a vase of freshly picked Lily of the Valley by my bed.  My room would come alive with the most lovely scent!  It’s a fragrance that always makes me think of her.  Those flowers, every year, were just a little thing — but they made me happy.  They also made it easy to decide what to carry up that aisle on my way to meet your father.  I carried Lily of the Valley that May morning; but I wasn’t carrying those flowers by myself — Nonni was carrying them with me.

It wasn’t long after that when we found out that you were joining our family.  I remember, on one of my “pregnancy walks” around Lexington Center, running into an older couple who told me how thrilled they were with the birth of their first grandchild.  I felt happy for them, but I felt bad for you.  I had no grandmother to give you; but, you know, what you think is a loss is sometimes a lucky break.  You have only one grandmother; but, oh what a grandmother you have!

Did you know that within minutes of your arrival your Nana Bradford was driving into the city to meet you.  I was barely out of labor when she walked into our hospital room.  She was the happiest, proudest woman in the world.  That was the day I became your mother and, in an way that’s hard to explain, that was also the day Nana became my mother.

For every loss there is a gain — but you have to look for it.  You were the most wonderful blessing God ever gave me.  Nothing in the universe could be better than being your mother.  You’re a gift that keeps on giving.   God had a loving reason to bring us together when He did and he has a loving reason to put a little distance between us now.  You’re angry; but that’s just the way it is today.  I’m sure that — someday — you’ll see how everything is a blessing.  You are my sunrise and my sunset and I can’t describe how grateful, and how proud, I am that you are my daughter.

Thank you my precious child!



About pamvbradford

I am a fifty seven year old banker specializing in government banking. I have a beautiful twenty-one year old daughter and a wonderful husband. My husband and I recently downsized, and purchased a beautiful condo in Watertown MA. We love our new home. I know I am a very fortunate person. I am surrounded by supportive family members, by supportive coworkers and by the marvelous support of our faith community at Sacred Heart Parish in Lexington MA. As the Psalm says, "There is nothing that I lack." My whole life changed on July 18, 2012 when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The news came from out of the blue. My tumor was removed by the marvelous Dr. Mark Johnson and his wonderful team of surgeons at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The surgery truly was a miracle. I couldn't possibly have gotten better care. Now the 'easy' part is over. The tough part is to learn to walk with God in the midst of danger and surprise. My mood shifts from gratitude to fear and back again but I know God has a purpose for me. There's a reason I didn't die on the operating table. There's something that God wants me to do. This blog is my effort to share with others, with all of you, what it is that I am learning as I put one foot ahead of the other, live each day as it comes, and discover what it is that God has to teach me. Your prayers keep me going. Your love comforts me. Your knowledge and faith guide and teach me. God bless you all!
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9 Responses to My Precious Little Girl

  1. sarah says:

    Dear Pam,

    I was too overwhelmed with emotion to respond to this right away but I want you to know that it has left a lasting impression me.

    I don’t know you that well but we share a common experience, that of losing a mother too soon. (I was 18). I too have ‘found’ her in the very things that she loved, during walks along the ocean, in the sounds of bells (she was the loudest bell ringer on the sidelines at all of our sporting events), and when listening to the crunching of leaves under my feet. I have felt her presence in the kindness of others (especially from the nurses who took care of me and my baby this past year… she herself having been a loving and devoted maternity nurse). Over time the break in my heart that occurred after her death opened up new spaces for other types of mother figures and love.

    The anniversary of her death was significant for me this year. At 36, I have now lived ½ of my life without her. While the distance in time has grown, I feel closer than ever to her since I have become a mother myself. While I always felt loved by her, it is only now that I can truly understand the magnitude and depth of a mother’s, my mother’s love. I understand now how it has guided me in my work, in my relationships with others, and now, in my own mothering. It is with me and will remain a part of me forever.

    My mom didn’t get a chance to say goodbye but I imagine that she would have wanted to express similar things to me. Thank you so much for being willing to share your thoughts with all of us. It means a lot to me.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your whole family.

    Love, Sarah (part of the p and e family)

  2. Thomas says:

    Pam, you are so right that Liqa is surrounded by love and friendship. I am really touched by this beautiful letter. Thank you.

  3. Alex Arena says:

    This post touched me deeply, Pammy. Your courage during this struggle is very inspiring. As someone who blogs myself, I can tell you really put your heart into each post. Liqa loves you and the whole family is thinking about you. I know this letter means the world to her.

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  5. Kathleen Flett says:

    Pam, I think that this is a profound letter. It is so beautiful and so intensely personal, that I could not leave a reply yesterday. I want you to know though that does not mean I did not feel your post deeply and marvel at your ability to articulate your feelings so well at this time. I think that you Paul, and Liqa are being GUIDED right now. I know you can feel all the prayers that are being said for you. You are Loved and you are never alone.

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  7. Mary says:

    Pam, what a beautiful and amazing post…
    Love you,

  8. ronald lancaster says:

    Oh my beautiful sister, This is a letter written by an angel.  I can’t stop crying, and yet I can’t cry anymore.  You have given Liqa so much in this letter. Of course she is so angry and so sad.  How hard it is to express these profound emotions!!   I am your sister and I can’t bear your loss.  I can only imagine for your precious girl.  I will pray for comfort for Liqa and Paul.  You have given so much.  I heard the words “perfect healing ” today.  They struck a chord.  I long for your perfect healing, and God tl give Liqa the strength and courage to understand.  Leaving to go to school has to be the challenge of her life.   But her schedule sounds so wise,, and she’ll be back and forth….  with some space in between to help with the rubbed raw emotions.  I know you are trusting God, and yet it seems you have had more than anyone should endure.   Writing your letter to Liqa is as beautiful and wonderful as anything I have read.  You are my angel poet sister. It will be all right  … easy for me to say. With great love and respect, Julie


  9. Jill says:

    I know that I can never fill your shoes (nor do I want to), but I will always be there for Liqa, no matter what, no matter when. She is as much another daughter to me as Abby is to you (and yes, that means that they both get to share Ben as a brother). I’ve known her almost as long as I’ve known my own kid. She is always welcome to share my snacks, and a piece of my heart will always be hers. And lily-of-the-valley grows right here in my garden every spring.
    Love you all.

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