31 Letters to my Mom- The Wrap Up


That’s right I’m talking to you, the one on the other end of the computer screen, for the first time in a month.

The Mother Letters are over and I can honestly tell you that writing to my Mom, Sally, for 31 days with a beautiful, cathartic challenge that broke me apart and put me back together a different person.

To write the letters I spent a lot of head-time in my past, pulling up every memory of my Mom that I could.

Some of my memories are just snapshots I only remember in pictures.  Some are vivid and when I recall them they happen all over again (for better or for worse.)  

Overall, The more I delve into life with my Mom the more I see the decline into depression.

The more I spoke with her sisters the more I saw the ghost of the fun and lighthearted woman woven through my childhood.  I really do remember her being easy-going, laughing and being silly with her kids.

The anniversary of her death was a heavy, hard day complete with darkness and storms, both in the stratosphere and in my soul.  Every anniversary that passes brings with it a desperation to save her that I can’t do anything about.

Many of my readers told me that in the progression of the letters they could see my heart lighten as I unburdened my anger and guilt.  I would agree with this and tell you that as I pulled everything out and examined it that my current view of my mother changed completely.

She went from being the heavy, dark woman at the train tracks to a free spirit, laughing and light, full of the joy that comes from being in the presence of our Father.

I really do feel her on the edges of my soul, spurring me on.  She’s cheering for me on the tough days and laughing with me in the moments where life is too ridiculous not to.

Friends I have to be honest with you, this challenge was not something I put a lot of thought into at the forefront.  It was a flash of idea that I knew I had to commit to the second it came to me, which was actually the night before the challenge started.

Also, I always thought that I would get a few letters ahead and have everything planned out and well-timed.  Yeah no, some nights I had everything ready to go for the next morning, but most days I was flying by the seat of my pants.

October was crazy beautiful-busy: we had a wedding, Kel’s 30 birthday, the anniversary of my Mom’s death, my brother’s graduation from Army Basic and two rounds of company in our home.

There was always emotional depth to process, something to think about, talk about, reflect upon.  The entire month was spent trying to process all the beautiful, painful life playing out all around me.

Overall, I have absolutely 0 regrets about committing to this challenge and I very well may do this again next year, although not with the same topic.

I want to end with a special thanks to The Nester who challenged me, as well as over 1200 other bloggers, to spend the 31 days of October writing.  I’m sure that she didn’t have anything as heavy as “letters to a mom who took her life” on her mind, yet my grief journey is forever better because she issued this challenge.

To this woman I have never met, I am deeply thankful.

To you, who faithful read these letters and spurred me on I am utterly grateful

To my husband who encouraged me, pulled me back up and even wrote one day I am beyond blessed.

To my family who loved the letters and gave me memories and encouragement I am unspeakably thankful.

To my Mom, in Glory, I love you, Thank you for being so gracious as the topic of this month.

Amen, Selah, Thank you.

(PS Tomorrow I am going to do an official Post about my new writing gig over at EpicTot.  If you want a sneak peak, I am writing there today about the little ways we can teach our kids the practice of thankfulness, see ya there)

  • Lisa K

    Yay for healing. The scars are always there but at least they start to fade. I definatley like my physical scars because they remind me how tough I am… When you see your scars, remember what you have handled and how strong you really are.

    • http://leannepenny.wordpress.com leannepenny

      Amen and I love that Lisa. We’re so BA inside and out :)

  • http://twitter.com/Vaderalman Mark Allman (@Vaderalman)

    Oh Leanne,
    One of my all time favorite quotes is by Kahil Gibran who said “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls, the most massive characters are seared with scars”. We all have scars; some visible, some not but they help make us who we are. I know you are a much stronger woman for the scars you have endured. You have blessed me and your other readers by letting us see your scars. Thank you.

    • http://twitter.com/Vaderalman Mark Allman (@Vaderalman)

      I also want to give Leanne a shout out for the idea of writing letters to her mom. My mom is 75 and still living and I wanted to do this for her; to venture back into our past and remember; to thank her for all she has done; to recognize her sacrifice, and also just to share the great memories. I asked my two brothers and two sisters to join me in this and they have. My sister Mimi has already written over 16 letters; I am at 11 and the others are gonna join in soon I hope. :) Our plan is to make a book of these letters and present it to her as a Christmas present.

      I will tell my Mom of you Leanne and I know she will be so thankful.

      • http://leannepenny.wordpress.com leannepenny

        Thank you Mark, you are such an intention son, father, brother and friend.

  • http://sistersunderthetrees.wordpress.com SFriant

    Leanne, Thank you for writing these for yourself, your kids, your husband, your marriage, your mothering, for us and for bringing more of God’s Presence into the world through your transformation by the process. Blessings! I have not read them all, but look forward to catching-up! Wondering what my month of letters should be!!!

    • http://leannepenny.wordpress.com leannepenny

      You are so welcome and I am so thankful that so many were blessed by these. Good luck in your own letter writing, it’s a lovely labor to be sure.