I woke up Christmas Eve to an email from a close friend from childhood whom I lost touch with when he changed schools at the end of the 5th grade. Although we haven't seen or spoken to one another in quite a few years, the email contained a pretty recent story about my mom. I asked my old friend if I could stash part of that story here and he said yes. It's below.
A few years ago I slowly started developing anxiety problems, mostly like claustrophobia or at its worst moments like agoraphobia, and it just progressively got worse. It was like I'd slowly dug a mile deep hole and when I finally looked up all I could see was a pinhole of light and I couldn't imagine getting back to the top. The reason I'm telling you that is because near the deepest part of my head-down hole-digging phase, your mom did something that I'll always remember and I don't think she ever knew what it meant to me, so I wanted you to know.
I don't remember what the occasion or holiday was, but my family went to a very-busy-at-the-time Hennessy's for dinner, which was a Herculean task for me then. While I was trying not to have a panic attack on the way to our table, your mom popped up from a large group of people and came up to my mom and I and asked how I was doing and she made me feel safe and comfortable in the middle of that packed room. For a second I wondered "did my mom tell her about what's going on with me?!"...and then I realized, that is just who your mom is. She had no idea what I was going through, but she treated me like she knew and it gave me a moment of peace when I really needed it. You always see "be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" quoted places because we tend to forget and need to be reminded, but I don't think your mom ever forgot that. I can't pretend to act like I knew her well enough to really back that up, I knew her about as well as you might expect someone to know a childhood friend's mom, but I do know I always felt safe and comfortable around her and that meant a lot to me.
I've been the lucky recipient of dozens of stories like the one above in the months since my mom passed away. They've come in many different forms, but their endings are almost always the same. My mom wasn't rich or famous, but she was kind, and in the end that's what really mattered.