Chapters end, begin when we least expect it

"The world is round, and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning."

- Ivy Baker Priest

I've used that quote many times since I first read it in a book gifted to me by a friend more than 20 years ago. I find it even more poignant this week as I cope with the loss of my mom.

She passed away last Wednesday from cancer, which had spread throughout her body, unchecked by new medication she began taking in January. When we learned of her condition after an Oct. 12 PET scan, the doctor estimated she might have three to six months. Instead she had about three weeks.

The shock of losing her so quickly and the sadness I feel is mitigated somewhat by the knowledge that she did not suffer - and that the death that awaited her as her Alzheimer's progressed likely would have been much worse.

I also feel fortunate that Dan, Ainsley and I had the chance to see her and say goodbye before she passed. She died on a beautiful day, like my dad did.

With last week's gorgeous weather, we had hoped to have a family prayer service at the pond outside the nursing home where she lived Saturday. Then Dan caught my cold, which came with a slight fever, and so we had to cancel.

I was devastated Saturday morning. I had looked on the prayer service as a gift - not only for us, but for Mom's sweetheart, Chuck. And then suddenly it was taken away.

We've talked often in the office about how difficult it must be for family and friends who lose someone during COVID. I never imagined that I too would lose a family member during COVID. At times I feel the sadness will overtake me.

But then the doorbell rings and someone has sent flowers or dinner or dropped off a beautiful card. And I feel surrounded by love - my mom's love, in a way, living on through them.

I'm feeling love especially right now from three people who have recently come into my life. I am adopted and, after waiting and wondering when would be the right time to do so, I finally sent in my DNA test kits this summer to see if I could find my birth family.

On Sept. 18, I found my half sister (or, I should say, she found me!). Then on Oct. 5, I had my first contact with my birth father and my birth mother.

I had hoped to find them at a time when my life was void of other big emotional events. I've struggled to accept how everything has unfolded, with this juxtaposition of joy and sorrow.

Then on Friday I received a text from one of my sorority sisters, who had learned the news - good and bad - from my best friend. She expressed her sympathy at the loss of my mom.

"At the same time, I am so happy to hear the news of you connecting with your birth parents and sister. It's a prayer answered and a gift from God himself to help you through that transition."

What a beautiful description.

One chapter of my life has ended. A new chapter is beginning. If I can hold my friend's perspective, I can stop worrying that I am somehow betraying the old chapter by welcoming the new one.

"All endings are inexorably tied to new beginnings," Melody Beattie writes in "Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul."

"That's the nature of the journey. It continues to unfold. It builds on itself. It can't help from doing that. Cherish the moments, all of them."

I will endeavor to do so, in memory of my mom.

- Pamela Lannom is editor

of The Hinsdalean.

Readers can email her at

[email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean