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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Question (05/24/12)

TITLE: What is Enough?
By Cheryl von Drehle


Four months after my mother’s unexpected death, the nagging question finally formulates in my mind: “did I do enough and did I do it right?”

Yes, I suspended everything in my life on an hour’s notice to fly 3000 miles to her bedside. And yes, I sat at my mother’s bedside for three weeks. I listened to her, offered what comfort I could, and refrained from expressing judgment. I did not listen closely enough; I do not believe the comfort was received; I wonder if she saw occasional judgment in my heart.

We talked extensively, but I did not ask the right questions. We looked at pictures to revisit memories, but we did not look inward to share how we felt about the past…and the present…and the future. I read aloud to her, but not the words of Scripture that I longed to read to her. We did not unwrap regrets, hurts, silences, misunderstandings, differences. She took all those secrets to her grave, leaving me to wonder if I had done enough and done it right.

Accompanying the bedside vigil was an enormous pressure to empty my mother’s apartment in three days. I expended hours of energy and emotion cleaning out years of accumulated physical “stuff.” The demanding timeframe provided no opportunity to examine the accumulation of emotional stuff. I discovered scores of oddities – squirreled away unused napkins, “borrowed” silverware, and triplicates of unneeded purchases. But there was no easy way to ask my mother “why?”

Four months later I wonder what overlooked family treasure or explanatory trinket I unwittingly assigned to the garbage or the goodwill or the resale shop. Are the answers I so desire now buried in landfill or sitting on someone else’s bookshelf?

As a child, and an adult child, I was never able to “do enough,” or “be enough,” for my mother. In the end I believe I did what I could for her. I think it was enough and right for her. I’m not sure it was for me.

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This article has been read 289 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 06/02/12
Oh wow. A hard question to answer, for sure! I could really feel the emotion in this piece. Nice job.
C D Swanson 06/02/12
My heart went out to you on this emotionally charged entry. I can understand it totally. My hubby's mom passed away suddenly, and we live four hours away. We had two days to clean out her "over packed apartment." Mourning is tough enough, but having that Herculean and arduous task is daunting.

Thanks for sharing your life with us. God Bless~
Deborah Engle 06/02/12
This touched my heart, as I have wondered the same things at times. Each thought shows the vulnerability that we need to endure, for only allowing the questions to have their sway, can the real peace enter and give the confidence that our best was good enough.
Laury Hubrich 06/04/12
This is so sad. Looking to the past with regrets is hard. Must be why God said to keep pressing on. Thank you for sharing. Many will relate to this.
Sandra Renee Hicks 06/06/12
Hi -

This is indeed a moving piece. Thank you for the deep emotion that you so well expressed.

Please note:

- In the first paragraph - "did..." should be "Did..."
Sandra Renee Hicks 06/06/12
I should have clarified...

In the first paragraph:

The FIRST entry of "did" should be capitalized as it is the beginning of your statement.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/08/12
Congratulations for ranking 17 overall!