Healing from Loss: Finding Gifts

Robin Botie, mother of Marika Warden, deceased, still finds gift from her daughter who died of leukemia. Birthday spaghetti. “Mom, you hafta follow the chocolates and read the clues to get your present,” Marika said, over five years ago. And 50 chocolate kisses later I found an elegant dinner of Caesar salad and linguini laced with red sauce, shrimp and scallops. There were flowers on the table. And candles and chocolate cake.

I was not her favorite person. To say the least. But on holidays she was generous. She always had something red for me. A new red sweater, capris, socks. Red velvet cake.

When she died, first I thought all I had left of her was her dog, her clothes, and a few songs. Then came the surprises:

The tiny book she’d made for me when she was eleven, that fell out of my night-table on Christmas Eve after she died. The Welcome Home Mom sign with a rabbit drawn in a heart that I found the day before I left to scatter her ashes in Australia. And her journals with the poems and prose that inspired me to write and then changed my life.

It’s like getting a gift each time I discover something of Marika’s. She died 2 ½ years ago; there can’t possibly be anything more to find of hers, I tell myself.

But last month, putting on her warm fleece jacket, I found a little plastic spoon and a Papa John’s Pizza gift-card for $20 in the pocket. An Old Navy card with $9.56 surfaced in her old closet recently. I found her watch in a box left in the garage. And last week in the mail there was a notice about her inactive investment account.

As the days grow darker and the holidays draw near, I gather all these “gifts.” At this time of the year I used to plan what presents I would give her. And now I consider all the ways she has gifted me.

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4 thoughts on “Healing from Loss: Finding Gifts

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    I image, deep under her adolescent and young woman mother complex, Marika thought you were the best in the world and trusted you more than anyone. Takes a little time for our kids to notice we’re OK, and you and Marika didn’t get that time. And there she still is in those hidden gifts and in surprising images and memories that don’t stop. May many readers find the gifts you and Marika share.

  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    Robin, this is sad and beautiful at the same time. I recall finding little “gifts” like these of Adrian’s (he died 2 1/2 years ago also), and treasuring each one.


    1. Robin Botie

      Two and a half years also? Does it seem like ages ago sometimes? Amazing how time goes by. The small treasures are so warming though. Thanks for reading.


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