'From 1994' to eternity: The power of a mother's love

'From 1994' captures a mom’s tender love for her son, through a letter she wrote before her death, opened years later when he was 12-years-old. One new mom connects with it on multiple levels, having also lost her mother when she was young. 

Casey Warren | MINDCASTLE/Vimeo
The title image from a still frame of filmmaker Casey Warren's short film 'From 1994' on Vimeo. Mr. Warren created a short film based on a note written to him from his mother in 1994. Warren's mother died in 2001 when he was 12-years-old.

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:

Dear Mom,

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.

Love forever,

Estey

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.