Saying Goodbye to my Mother with No Regrets


A few weeks before my mother passed, I went to see her. I’d think about my mother everyday during that time, but I didn’t call or visit her like I thought I should. Earlier this year Mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She was also told she had a growth in her throat. We didn’t know if it was benign or malignant; further tests were to come, possibly. The signs were all over the wall, but there was still a part of me denied that my mother was nearing the end of her life.

One morning I went to see my mother. I walked into her bedroom and casually asked, “What’s this?” as I pointed to what was clearly a potty chair. My mother snapped angrily, “I told you I can’t walk! Y’all don’t care nothin’ bout me!” 

I was triggered. Yes, I had mother issues, issues that I had been working through for years. I shouted back angrily at her, turned on my heels and walked out of the room. “I’ve got to go to the doctors anyway,” my mother spat. I phoned my partner, Tim. “Come back and get me,” I said, “Momma has a doctor’s appointment.”

“Tim,” I said later that evening, “I’m going back tomorrow. Can you take me?” My Wise Self knew I HAD to return. I HAD to try again. I HAD to have a good day with my dying mother. I HAD to end on a high note with my mother, else I might live with a lingering regret ’til the day I die.

Before going to see my mother the next day, I talked to Tim and the woman I live with, Queen, who was another mother God had placed into my life. They both advised me to “just love her.”

The next day I walked into my mother’s apartment ready to love her. I asked her, “What can I do for you?” She told me. I cleaned, prepared her something to eat, and kept my ego in check. Mother softened. I felt her love. I served her. Service, I realized after my mother’s passing, was her language of love. Duh? Isn’t that how SHE’D shown HER love?

A week later I accompanied my brother, Mother’s primary caregiver, to our mother’s last doctor’s appointment. My brother told my sister that I’d “done good.” I smiled when I heard this, knowing that I’d made the most of my time with her.

So, I ask you, if someone near and dear to you were to die tomorrow, would you be filled with regret?

Will you regret that you:

~ didn’t accept them for who they were?

~ didn’t show them more tenderness, kindness, love?

~ didn’t forgive them?

I have no regrets. I wasn’t present when my mother took her last breath. Still, I have no regrets.

Long ago I’d accepted that relationships can be messy. All relationships have their peaks and valleys. Relationships, especially with our parents, tend to be bittersweet. We can love them, and not like them.

In the weeks preceding my mother’s passing, had I not suspended my ego I would have missed that tender moment when, as I laid on the bed beside my mother, she reached down and patted me on my head. I was pretty sure she had lost something, that she was searching for the remote control when I softly asked, “What’s wrong.” “Nothing,” she said sweetly, “I was just making sure my girl was here.” Even as I write this, I cry… because I knew my mother was, in her own way, telling me, “I love you, daughter.”

We only do our best. If a loved one has passed on, even if you wish you’d been different with them, go ahead and forgive yourself. No need for regrets. Things happened the way they were supposed to happen.  However, if there’s someone you’d regret not seeing and loving just one more time if they’d die tomorrow, go on, check your ego and reach out to them. Because it’s never too late to love.

by DeBora M. Ricks

Coach | Book Midwife | Editor | Publisher

Author of “Write That Book! How to Start or Finish the Book You Are Meant to Write”.
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