In only about 5 1/2 minutes, the film “From 1994 “ tells a beautiful story of a mom’s love for her son, through a letter she wrote seven years earlier, before her death from cancer. As a typewriter clicks away, we hear her detailed observations of her son, questions about what he’s up to now as a 12-year-old, and motherly advice about how to live well.
After signing the letter simply, “Love forever, Mom” – she puts it in a Time Capsule marked “1994,” and tucks her 5-year-old son – Casey Warren, who grew up to co-direct this film – into bed, looks at him lovingly as only parents do, and shuts the door. It’s such a simple concept, but so tenderly executed, saturated with mother-love.
I can imagine my mom writing me a similar letter. While not so much a writer, she was an avid reader – often devouring a book in one sitting while sipping lemonade as she floated in our backyard pool. Her favorite social activity was her monthly book club, which she formed anew each time we moved (five times before I turned 10). Perhaps her self-consciousness kept her from writing – I’m sure she would have had a knack for it.
What I do know for sure is that she really loved my siblings and me. No self-consciousness in that area – her love for us radiated from her all the time. She relished being our mom – and we felt that joy. I can write that with complete certainty, even though she passed on when I was only 10. It’s that kind of deep-seated mother-love that makes a lasting impression – even now, 15 years later, I can feel it.
The film’s closing line says it perfectly: “Before I say ‘goodnight,’ I want you to remember – I will always be here for you, even though I may not be with you. Bye for now, from 1994 – see you in the next lifetime.”
My mom would say the same sort of thing to me, if she could – and I would say the same thing to my little one, if she were old enough to understand. It’s a real reminder to cherish each moment and never forget to express our love to our children.
It’s so important, though it often gets swept under the rug amid wiping of noses, kissing of boo boos, and insisting that they eat their broccoli before ice cream. Though in a way, all of these everyday parenting duties serve as a testament to our loving care of our children, even more so than a few words written down would be.
Still, there’s something special about reading a note written just for you, especially when you get older. Memory can be a tricky thing, with all our experiences getting jumbled and warped – but personal letters stand out as highlighted guideposts that say, yes, the person who wrote this note loves you so very much.
I get what mother-love is so much more now that I’m a mom – it is so complete, so no-matter-what-I-will-always-love-you, so deeply embedded in me that it’s like the freckles on my skin. Just like my mom, it radiates from me with a force that eradicates my self-doubt and insecurity.
I’ve always had trouble defining myself as I was growing up – any label I tried out seemed too constricting or too vague – but I can say with total certainty, I am my daughter’s mom. I love that about myself.
Like the mom in the film says, “My favorite time of my life is the years that you’ve been alive because you have made me feel truly alive.”
Hear, hear – it’s so true for me, too – and for most parents, I think.
Mother-love is a beautiful thing. I’m so grateful I get to experience it as a recipient and a giver.
If I could send a letter to my late mom, I would say:
Thank you for all you have done for me. Thank you for loving me always. I made it through after losing you, and now I’m a mom, too. You would love my daughter – she has your curious eyes, quick smile, and friendly tendency towards strangers. Her specialties are dancing and singing in the kitchen, rocking amazing hat hair, giving slobbery baby drool kisses, and playing Tupperware drums.
What are you up to now? I imagine you surrounded by friends, animatedly discussing some great (or horrible) book, and bringing out homemade chocolate chip cookies for everyone to enjoy. Whatever you’re up to now, my deepest desire for you is that you are happy. Don’t worry – I am. I love you! Hope to see you again someday.