Love You More

I stored up my mother's love in my heart, until one day I felt empty.

Posted Jun 14, 2020

“Love you more.”

 © Walter Rosenhaft
Source: © Walter Rosenhaft

I heard that phrase for the first time in many years earlier this week. It's the title of a new book written by a mother who lost her daughter. “Love you more” was the phrase the daughter said to the mother before she went to bed every night.

It was also the phrase my mother and I said to each other at random; on the phone right before we hung up, when I went to bed if I stayed at her house in Connecticut or when I left to go back to my own apartment in Queens.

It was our private game, tossing words back and forth, seeing who could catch the most. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was storing her words – and her love – in my ever-expanding heart so I’d never run out.

When she was diagnosed with end-stage pancreatic cancer in December of 2001, she was told she had six months to live. In actuality, she died March 6, 2002, only three months later. One Sunday she was acting strangely and my brother and I called 911. She passed away in her sleep in the hospital, just before midnight.

I regret not crowding my body in the narrow hospital bed and soaking up her presence one last time. Love you more.

For months afterwards I was lost. I wandered around her town, getting my manicures where she and I used to go, drinking coffee where we used to go, even shopping at the same Bed Bath & Beyond. It wasn’t as if I couldn’t take care of all that where I lived, which would have saved me a 30-minute trip each way.

Sometimes I miss her so much. No, it’s not even missing her, it’s needing to talk to her, longing to hear her reassuring voice and feel the unconditionality of her love. It’s at times like these my heart feels drained, never to be full again.

 © Walter Rosenhaft
Source: © Walter Rosenhaft

Then she makes her presence known. That she’s watching over me, letting me know she's proud of who I’ve become. I was still very ill when she passed away and she never got to see me flourish. My heart fills back up again not only because, Mom, I know you’re there, but because I know you love me more.