Colleen's Journey

Our First Mother’s Day Without Our Mother

Everyone told us our first Mother’s Day without our mom would be the worst.  We have nothing to compare it to so we can’t say for sure if this is true.  We can tell you it has been difficult.

I can say this past week was been pretty bad for me.  Every commercial of women with their mother’s, children with their grandmothers, and reminders to pick up those special gifts for your loving mom was just another reminder that our mom wasn’t here.  To make matters worse, Nicole and I spent several frustrating days doing nothing but estate-related stuff which only serves as a constant reminder that our mom is gone.  I was sad, depressed, and on the verge of tears most of the week.
My sisters and I were anticipating that this would be an emotionally challenging weekend.  We decided to spend it together in the one place we know we will always feel close to her – her “cabin” in northeastern Arizona.  Our grandparents bought the land when she was very young.  Growing up, mom, her parents, seven siblings, and their friends would regularly camp and play on the land.  Over the course of 52 weekends between 1980 and 1981 they built the cabin together as family.  Our grandpa had designed the house and laid every brick himself while effectively delegating and supervising what everyone else was doing.

Our parents bought the property in the early ’90s.  Mom has always told us that this house and land was her sanctuary.  From her teenage years through the rest of her life, this is where she came to find comfort and peace when life’s challenges became more than she could bear.  It is also a place where she created so much laughter and joy with our family and friends.

My sisters and I were blessed to share the same sanctuary with her.  It is a place of peace and solace for us as well.  Now that she is gone, her presence permeates the house.  Yesterday, we spent the day doing yard work, raking pine needles and cleaning up the property.  Most people wouldn’t see this as the ideal way to spend Mother’s Day weekend, but we did.  It’s what she would have been doing if she was here.  We felt like we were honoring her by showing our respect and love for her most prized possession.

As a side note, my sisters and I have all had really uncanny encounters with birds approaching us and lingering since our mom passed.  It’s weird, the birds always appear at moments when our mom is on our mind or hearts.  What’s interesting is that she never really had a strong connection with birds while she was alive…until the day she chose the official logo for Colleen’s Dream Foundation.

Back to the story, while outside raking pine needles, Dani and I were blessed to be visited by a beautiful humming bird.  The bird came so close and stopped, almost like it was checking in.  We took this as a sign that she was with us this weekend and was happy to see her four daughters, three son-in-laws, and four grandchildren working together to get the house ready for summer on a beautiful Mother’s Day weekend.

Not to be greedy, I think we wanted more.  Each of us wanted to feel her as much as possible and receive another sign that she was with us.  We got the sign we were praying for.  This afternoon, Pete was putting Blake down for his nap so he walked over to the window to close the blinds.  As he did, a bird flew from the ledge of our windowsill.  He quickly realized that the bird had built a nest on the ledge outside the window.  Inside the nest, the bird had left behind four teal eggs.  Four.  Teal.  Eggs.  Nicole, Billy, Pete and I cried over the deep and beautiful meaning behind this incredible gift.  We only wish Dani and Billie had been here to see it, but they already left to head back to Phoenix.  Nonetheless, it was a Mother’s Day gift left for each of us.  The four eggs were perfect and we believe the teal represents what our life’s work is to be.


My sisters and I want to convey that losing our mom has posed the greatest challenge of our lives so far.  The pain is deep and real.  It boils over unexpectedly and has the power to bring us to our knees.  That being said, we are eternally grateful that our mom left us with everything we will really ever need to survive.  She gave us each other.  We also have her example to live by.  With some soul searching, we are often able to answer the question, “What would Mom say or do?” when we are faced with a situation where the right answer or course of action is difficult to find.  We are blessed to have her beloved cabin and know we will never be alone here.

Today, we want to wish all moms a happy Mother’s Day!  We also cannot help but think of all of the other “Motherless Children” who are casualties of ovarian cancer or the other leading causes of death in women.  Our hearts also go out to all mothers who have lost their children.  We now know how difficult holidays can be for those who are reminded of their loses while still trying to count their blessings.  We hope with time it gets easier for us and everyone else.  We also believe in the mission behind Colleen’s Dream and know one day fewer mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends will have to spend holidays without the beloved women in their lives.

All our love to you, Mom.  We miss you so much.