This is the tribute that I wrote and shared at my mother’s funeral. It began as a note on my phone that I would occasionally revisit when I caught myself in awe of the ways in which she showed me her quiet, every day love.
One of my biggest struggles in writing this tribute was tenses. When I decided that I would use the note in my phone as my tribute, I could not bring myself to adapt it and shift the narrative into the past tense. I refused to fully accept the fact that she no longer physically lived in the present moment. Her funeral was less than one week after she passed, and by that morning I was still unprepared to leave my mother entirely in the past. I now like to think that the moment that I decided to keep in the present, the moment when I describe her voice, is my promise to her that I will keep her and her love with me.
Good morning everyone. I started writing this shortly after my mother’s diagnosis. I did not want to have to finish it so soon.
I called her Momma.
Ask me about my Momma and I won’t tell you about all the awards she won or the presentations she made or the classes she taught; there are so many other people who can do that. Instead, I’ll tell you about her smile and her style and how we’d sit for a while and drink tea. I’ll tell you about all the lives that she’s changed and the way she was brave. And how her eggs never broke when I used to want those over easy yolks and the way she sounded when she spoke and how beautiful she was.
I will tell you about my Momma in bits and pieces, in little things that all say “her.” We’d sit together and have tea and be calm and we’d bond and be happy. She’d understand me even if I didn’t think she did or even if she didn’t think she did. She’d string together pearls of wisdom to make me a beautiful necklace of love. She had her quirks and you’d sometimes hear a barely-there trace of her accent haitien. Her voice is beautiful in all languages, and she worked oh so very hard. She did so many things that I don’t know if I will ever do. She’d make sure I ate and that I slept, and she’d be a shoulder when I wept. And she loved when I smiled with teeth.
Ask me about my Momma and I’ll tell you how when I see her picture I can hear her laugh, and how whenever I’d tell her I love her she’d say, “I love you too, ma dahlin’.”
She had so much love in her heart. Ask me and I’ll tell you how she’d take everything in stride, and how so many people love her.
Ask me about my Momma and I’ll never be able to tell you how much I love her.
I can’t wait until the next time someone asks me about my Momma, because I know exactly what I’ll tell them. I’ll tell them that even though she is no longer fighting, that’s okay, because she has already won the ultimate victory. She is up there, at His right hand, both arms raised high above her head, giving thanks.