Motherless in Seattle

by Corey · 8 comments

Today I would like to honor my mother, Sharon Kathleen Spellman, with this post.  It is the two year anniversary of her passing after her long, painful struggle with breast cancer.  I love you, mom!

This post goes out to all of our mothers, especially those living apart from us in other countries and continents away.  Let us never forget how important our mothers are in our (and our children’s) lives!

By Corey Heller
This post first appeared at An American Between Worlds

One cold evening in December in 1968, a woman named Sharon gave birth to me. She was young and vibrant and wanted me more than anything in the world.

On November 16th, 2008, at age 65, she let go of this world while I sat next to her, holding her hand, telling her how much we loved her and that she could go home whenever she was ready.

I miss her terribly.

Things weren’t always easy between my mother and me. We had our share of arguments (my journal is a testament to the details). But she was my only mother and I was her only daughter. We shared a bond which our petty differences couldn’t destroy. And now, without her, I feel raw and exposed, confused and floundering. What I wouldn’t give for one more chance to forgive and forget with a hug.

Life goes on but memories have their way of taking hold of our hearts and minds when we least expect it. Every now and then, a gentle sensation or a vivid reminder of my mother will bring me to my knees and fill my whole being with tears of sorrow.

The Grandchildren

Oh my children, I cry out for your loss. Grammy is no longer alive. She is no longer alive!

As my 7-year-old told his younger siblings: “What this means is that Grammy won’t say, ‘Oh, is that the dollar you got from the tooth fairy?‘ when we lose a tooth.”

No, Grammy will never say that ever again.  Never.

To my three-year-old: Will you even be able to remember your Grammy’s warm breath against your golden-red hair?

Being motherless

To be motherless means to be put into a whole new category – one of children without mothers. Suddenly, it feels as if everyone else who has lost a mother understands me without speaking a word.  They can read my mind by seeing right into my heart.

While my mother was battling breast cancer, I often painfully pondered what it would feel like to be motherless.  It paralyzed me to the core of my being – I simply couldn’t imagine life without her.

Yet now that I am here, on the “other side,” I find it is so different from what I had envisioned.  Life does somehow move on (painfully) yet the subtleties are all slightly warped.  Everything has become gently, yet perpetually, blurred.

What is the point of it all?

As I watched my mother’s eyes close for the last time, her breathing slowly decline to a rasp and then stop, I asked myself “why?”

Why do we get out of bed each day and struggle to survive?  Why do we give so much, care so much, love so much?  What’s the point when eventually it will all be taken away?  Someone is always bound to be left with an aching heart.

I can’t answer this satisfactorily.  All I know is that when my time comes, I want a loved one beside me holding my hand telling me that it is ok to go home, that they are going to be ok without me, that my job here is done and that I can let go.  I want them to tell me that what I did in my life wasn’t a waste and that my love for them meant something; that it changed them for the better.  That is all I really want in life. What more could I even hope for?

My dear, dear mother. I miss you, I love you, I will never forget you.

Here is a song I wrote and sang for my mother the last few hours of her life.  My brother, husband and I recorded it a month later in our living room (me singing, my brother on guitar, my husband on Irish drum):


Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 15, 14 and 12, in German and English.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marta November 16, 2010 at 6:21 am

It’s a very touching text, Corey.


2 Birgit November 16, 2010 at 8:38 am

I am still crying while typing this. Very touching post. My mother has been fighting cancer for a few years now and seems to be loosing it. I hope I can be with her more, but she lives far away in Sweden. Thank you. Birgit


3 Lara-Miya November 16, 2010 at 10:02 am

Corey, I miss your mother too, she was such a force in this world, it is still hard for me to believe she is no longer with us.
I will always remember the way she read a book and the characters would come to life. I feel lucky that I still have my mother.
Glad you posted this in her memory and for all those who have lost a mother in their life.
I will light a candle in her memory today.


4 Lisa November 16, 2010 at 11:54 am

Corey, I remember reading your article in Multilingual Living magazine two years ago when it happened. I was sobbing and now I am about to cry again…It is very sad when someone you love leaves…and when you realize that you cannot turn the clock back it is even sadder…On the other hand, thinking and talking about her will keep her in your heart forever…


5 Mitzi Phillips November 17, 2010 at 12:23 am

Corey, Your words and song were a very touching tribute to your mother.


6 Tamara Staton November 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Your post has left me with tears rolling down my cheeks. I truly appreciate your honesty, your willingness to open your heart into cyberspace and share with the rest of us. As you said, once you’ve lost your mom, you can connect with others in the same position…I feel the same. It’s certainly an unspoken understanding. My mom died this past June, at 66, of Non-hodgkins Lymphoma, after a 10 year battle. I so clearly relate to so much of what you were saying.
I thought I’d share a few posts in honor of both our mom’s, and others who have gone before them…

In looking back, I wish I had added more heart and true authenticity to those posts. Since then, I’ve been doing more of that, and reading your post here is a reminder of how powerful it is when we do it.

Thank you, once again, for sharing yourself.
It certainly made a difference in my life tonight.
Take care, and keep on doing what you’re doing, tears and all.


7 Anneke Forzani November 23, 2010 at 9:51 am

Corey, your song and tribute is beautiful. I wish you joy with your children this Thanksgiving season.


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