June 1972 – June 2022
My mother, Maria, was born June 10th, 1972. She was named after “Maria” from the musical “West Side Story.” She was the most beautiful person in the world filled with this vivacious thrill for life. She loved LSU, photography, painting, fishing, dancing, her fun purple glasses, snuggling with her kittens, listening to live music, and enjoying life.
When I think of my mom, glitter comes to mind. The moment we left the hospital and went through her belongings, we found a whole cup of glitter in her purse. My siblings and I had a moment of laughter during the initial shock and denial that comes with losing a loved one. We collectively agreed “this cup of glitter in her purse is SO our mom”. My mom was working in her dream position as the Noel Community Arts Program director in Shreveport, Louisiana. That week she had been organizing an art camp, and apparently glitter was involved. Throughout the days after her passing, we kept finding pieces of glitter all over us, and I like to think that was her trying to make us smile.
My mom had a smile made of sunshine; Her laughter was contagious; Her embrace was comforting and inviting; She was the most selfless person I know. I miss her hugs, talks, and advice. I loved our movie nights, dinners, and jamming out to the “Mamma Mia” soundtrack.
When I got the call to consent for her tissue, eye, and brain donation(s), I knew I had to fulfill her wishes. Learning that her brain went to the Autism Brain Net is so special to me. I am a student at LSU studying special education that has previously had the privilege of working with children on the spectrum. I feel like my mom’s brain donation going to the Autism Brain Net is not just random, it is her way of saying “you are on the right path.”
I now have the privilege to carry my mother’s legacy with me everywhere I go, and what a gift that is. She is in the butterflies, the rainbows, the cardinals, and all the sunsets I see.
What an honor it is to be her daughter. I am thankful for the 19 years we had together on this Earthly home. I will miss and love her until the end of the galaxy.
Until we meet again, mom.
My Mother kept a garden.
A garden of the heart;
She planted all the good things,
That gave my life it’s start.
She turned me to the sunshine,
And encouraged me to dream:
Fostering and nurturing
The seeds of self-esteem.
And when the winds and rains came,
She protected me enough;
But not too much, she knew I’d need
To stand up strong and tough.
Her constant good example,
Always taught me right from wrong;
Markers for my pathway
To last my whole life long.
I am my Mother’s garden,
I am her legacy.
And I hope today she feels the love,
Reflected back from me.