Losing a mother is always a traumatic event. When Omar Sneed, 22, and Sienna Sneed, 23, lost their mother, Ernestine, to Acute Myelogenous Leukemia earlier this year they were, as would be expected, overcome with grief. Sienna had an infant daughter, Lorynn Graycee Bennett, that her mother doted over constantly and it saddened her that Lorynn would never fully know the love of her grandmother and what an amazing woman she was. As they dealt with their grief, they began to go through their mother’s things. It was during this sad process that they found something that would help them both to begin to heal. They found their mother’s journals.
Always an avid and talented writer, Ernestine had documented her journey through cancer in writing. Unsure what these writings would hold, Omar and Sienna found peace in the confirmation of something that they always knew about their mother’s attitude. “When I saw my mom’s journal writings for the first time, they reassured me of the great person my mom was,” said Omar. “And how she stayed positive throughout her illness.” It was always important to Ernestine to pass along her values to her children, especially the capacity for forgiveness.
In fact, Ernestine had penned an entire book about forgiveness. As they read through the journals, Sienna had an idea. Her mother had become ill before she could try in earnest to get her book published. Sienna decided that she would combine the writings of the journal with the book on forgiveness and work to get it published. Both of her children agree that her whole life was about helping others. In fact, said Omar, when any of their friends had issues to deal with, they turned to his mom, who always put others needs ahead of her own. “My friends called our couch the therapist’s chair,” he said.
Sienna believes that the book written by her mother can help many people, and that is why her mother wrote the book in the first place. “There are many books about forgiveness, but not many are geared toward the younger generation,” said Sienna. She said her mom’s book was written with younger readers in mind. “I wish the whole world could have known how special of a person she was,” said Sienna. Sienna and Omar have found a way to not only make sure that anyone who reads the book will know how special that she was, but also that Lorynn will be able to get a glimpse into the strong, compassionate heart of the grandmother who loved her so fiercely.
There is nothing that can take away the pain of losing a mother. But for Omar and Sienna, the words left behind by their mother have been like a healing balm. These words allow them to have a bridge to their mother’s love and to be able to share that love with others. As she works toward publication of her mother’s final writings, Sienna takes comfort in the fact that people who never knew her mother will be able to get a sense of her love and compassion. And that is not only a gift that Sienna and Omar can give to their mother, but a gift their mother has given to them as well.