This December, I have been juggling two emotions: one of happy expectation for Christmas and the new year, of celebrations with friends and family, of worshiping the newborn King in word and deed, and in beginnings, and hope for hard and rewarding work in the coming seasons.

The other emotion is grief and the process of handling memories. My mother passed away on Thanksgiving, just a few weeks away from her ninety-fourth birthday

Jun 21, 1947. My mom and dad, flanked by Jay and Frances Reed, mom’s parents.


It is a bitter-sweet process. Just last week I stood at my mother’s open casket and grieved over words left unsaid. I grieved over the relationship we should have had. But I thank the Lord that I was able to say many times this year, “I love you, Mother.”

And I was able to place my hand on hers and whisper, though my sobs, “I forgive you.”



My mother was an irregular person: musically gifted, filled with passion, ambitious for her children, but lacking a filter on her mouth or the ability to empathize. Her words could be a balm at surprising times. But all too often, her words cut and bludgeoned.

In the last few years, the Lord helped me to see my mother as a hurting soul and to view her with His eyes of compassion.

She wanted the best for us, but she didn’t know how to nurture us with gentleness and affirmation.

She did excel in a couple of things: She read to us each day and stressed the importance of using the English language well.

She taught us piano and made sure our practice was perfect. I am eternally grateful that she was an exacting taskmaster, because I have grown into a good pianist, which gave me a marketable skill as a music teacher.

She accompanied me on the piano when I sang all over the San Francisco bay area. I couldn’t have had a more dedicated and musical accompanist than Mother.

Her sensitive and artistic soul influenced us to see beauty in music, in art, in nature, in the human form, in architecture and literature.

Joanne Nicolaisen, my mother. By the grace of God, I am what I am partly because of her. Thank you, Mother, for the good memories. I miss your piano playing. I miss your passion. I miss you terribly.



3 thoughts on “Loss”

  1. So sorry for your recent loss is your mother. I’ll be praying through these next weeks for God’s peace and strength to embrace you. You are blessed to have recognized both the strong and the weak areas of your relationship with your mom because both have made you into the beautiful Christian woman you are. May Christ be glorified!

  2. Thank you for sharing.

    I lost my mom in July this year from cancer. For 6 months we watched her suffer greatly. Before that, my parents marriage was broken and it was extremely stressful to see all the things my dad did for her, but to see how she almost detested or misinterpreted the efforts, and didn’t reciprocate.

    But I am who I am because of her as you say too. She was there for me when I first began guest teaching and encouraged me in the field of education. She was always there to advise me when I needed it. She taught me guitar, she was my biggest writing cheerleader, my first beta reader and editor, she encouraged me in that way all the time.

    My parents had a challenging relationship because my mom was so emotional and I believe she was an empath and took on others emotions to the extreme, and couldn’t always handle that. So when surrounded by negative people, she became very negative. It was a difficult cycle to break. She also played the victim quite a bit.

    But she taught me many things and encouraged my passions and ambitions so for that I am grateful. I’m still struggling on the border of forgiveness because of how she treated my dad. However, I love her and miss her dearly. This whole year has been extremely difficult as I’ve lost my older brother, my mom and my grandma.

    Again – thank you for having the courage to share this – the good and the bad. It’s encouraging to me, to know I am not alone in how I feel at times.

    Merry Christmas and Happy new Year 🙂

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