Letter to My Mother: Claudia Agoglia

Happy 36th Wedding Anniversary

Dear Mom,

This has to be such a difficult time for you, especially since it was dad’s birthday last week and now it’s your 36th wedding anniversary today. I remember one year ago coming home from Virginia to watch Kole so you and dad could get away and celebrate your 35th anniversary. I was excited that you were taking time to celebrate this special occasion.

That entire week I stayed home and worked long days on my computer just to get my new company website (Skylar Design) ready for a public launch. Despite the house being empty,I was content knowing that the both of you were resting and enjoying each other’s fellowship. I recall getting a few phone calls from you and dad asking how Kole was doing. He was like (and still is) your little child. He was fine since we took plenty of walks each day and we both kept each other company. As you know he’s always been a faithful companion to me whenever I returned home. Maybe a better name for him should have been “Shadow.” We both enjoyed the spring air and I continually talked to him as we searched new locations to explore. Yes, that’s right…I talked to him each step of the way, reminding him that I loved him. (I believe even animals need to hear that we love them.)

People who pray for miracles usually don't get miracles...But people who pray for courage, for strength to bear the unbearable, for the grace to remember what they have left instead of what they have lost, very often find their prayers answered...Their prayers helped them tap hidden reserves of faith and courage which were not available to them before. - Harold S. Kushner

Just being back in NY reminded me of many memories I had missed during my entire academic training such as being with the family, home-cooked meals, and just that sense of home again. That’s something I haven’t felt in over 14 years. I have felt more like a transient gypsy at times, moving from one state to another. In any case, I couldn’t have been touched any further than knowing you were taking some time for each other.
I think what made your anniversary so unique was that you and dad always gave so much of yourselves to so many that you never had much time to rest and relax. But thankfully you took that time to rejoice over the 35 years God blessed you both in marriage and over 40 years of friendship. That’s amazing!

During my travel home last spring, I reflected on the uniqueness of marriage particularly yours. You see, I haven’t yet experienced that unique mystery of two becoming one. I always desired to be with a significant other and to one day raise a family as you and dad did, but my hopes were painfully dashed a few times. Thus for quite some time, it only seemed like a distant dream and at times hopeless.

But I have to admit, it was your relationship with dad that continued to give me some glimpse of hope, a model to follow after and a guide to go by. Too often I hear of relationships that dissolve and, sadly, many of these people I know personally. Of what little I know and have experienced, I acknowledge that a relationship isn’t something that’s manufactured or produced; it’s a matter of two people purposefully committed to investing in each other and themselves; and no matter when differences arise (for they will), both parties must be flexible and able to listen to each other. As a result, a wonderful foundation of trust is created and I believe that this groundwork is strong enough to face difficult trials, but also pliable enough to grow and take on a unique shape. You and dad demonstrated that many times, first by your words and then by your actions.

Perhaps another significant lesson I learned from you and dad was your ability to forgive and ask forgiveness of one another. Time after time I recognized that this was a key part to your relationship. Perhaps that’s what made your relationship even more significant to me. I think sometimes when we talk about great models, especially marital relationships, it’s often equated with perfection or that it is somehow flawless. That’s not the case. All relationships have their moments where one person fails the other and, whether it was intentional or not, the other person is often offended. That happened to you and dad from time to time and I know that I will make my share of mistakes also. Who doesn’t? So, in my opinion, healthy relationships have the ability for each person to ask and receive forgiveness.

As you wake up this morning and face today thinking of dad, I’m thinking of you and I’m praying that God will somehow comfort you as you reflect on your life with dad. You had a very special man in your life. He’s like no other I’ve met before. Conversely, you loved dad wholeheartedly also. You dreamed together, worshipped together, prayed together during very troublesome times, shared together, and lived to carry on the mission and calling God uniquely placed within your lives.

Everyday I still feel this unending sadness of not having dad around. I miss him terribly. This pain I carry seems too lonely at times and even, quite heavy to handle. Yet, you carry a much more distinctive pain deep within you. I see your concerns, your sense of loss, and your overwhelming burden to carry on with your life. Still, I can’t fully enter into your pain because the relationship you had with father was much different that mine. We do share a common loss. I miss dad as you do. But we both know that the pain is still different for you as it is for Kristian, Tad, and I.

As your son, I want you know firstly that I’m so honored to have a mother as you. For 33 years you have selflessly given up many of the things you could have had in your life (e.g., a very lucrative career); nonetheless, you decided to invest in your marriage and your three sons. I remember the days when you took care of me when I was injured, the many late nights and early morning you nursed me back to health after major surgeries. Each day you prepared homemade meals, something most children don’t receive today, and even introduced me to vegetables and eating healthily. I recall the hours you dedicated to locating fine schools for children struggling with learning disabilities. I was one of those kids. Well, almost four degrees later, I’m still standing and working hard to fulfill the dreams God has planted in my life. But your part in my life was so significant to helping me live life to its fullest. Even more so, you sought our ways for me to grow my faith vertically and then express it horizontally.

Well, I’m sure there are times you now question your purpose and your role without dad now; I know I do many times these days. But your role is very crucial, especially to your three, grown sons. You see we don’t need you to take care of us any longer; you completed that task with dad quite well. We need you, instead, to move forward and continue on with the specific calling God has given you: a heart of great compassion for brokenhearted.

I’m not sure what form your ministry may take over the next few years and, I’m not sure that you’re to do anything right now other than to take one day at a time. God will show you when the time is right.
But for now, I want you to know how proud I am of you in how you’re managing each day. This isn’t an easy process for any of us to handle alone. None of us have training in dealing with life after the loss of a significant loved one. We’re learning painfully and we’re learning together. As I’ve shared in earlier writings, I’ve come to realize that although grieving is unique to each individual, we also mourn together; it’s a shared experience. And as your son, I assure we will take care of you and watch over you as dad once did. I’d like to think that he can still see us, better yet, see you - his bride and his love. I know how much he loved you and still does.

Mom, on this particular anniversary and as painful as it is, may you remember the good things that you and dad shared together. I am trying to focus on this each day. It’s not an easy task since our loss is so connected to our emotions. We feel something very real and true and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Because I can say without a doubt, I’ve had two great parents who loved God first, loved each other, and loved their three sons. I love you Mom. Happy 36th anniversary.

Love always,