As the lights twinkle brightly upon this green tree, and the oranaments hang like they want to be seen.
I remember the years of laughter and love, and I know that your watching from high up above.
I feel you in the details of every sweet treat, I see you in the eyes of family I meet.
My children still linger and let out a smile, just thinking of you and your laugh for awhile.
The pain that was felt last year is now dull, the mind is more eager to remember what was full.
All memories of shopping for this and for that, wrapping and spending some time to just chat.
There is an emptiness, a void that is felt, I can almost sense you beside me, and I melt.
You will never be physically here in our midst, but your spirit lives on in each hug and each kiss.
The holidays encompass so many good things, but stress and regret can bring on some sting.
So I cling to your traditions, some big and some small, but the one I rely on is to love one and love all.
I miss you this year, Maybe more than the last. I miss your sweet presence, your cooking, your laugh.
But I'll lift up my head, in true mothers fashion, and give to my family with humble compassion.
I wonder like a child at the lights and the smells, I will express all my heartfelt forgivings and get wells.
Because the gift you have given me, far above the rest, is the memories of Christmas and living your best.
As Christmas approaches there is an almost eerie presence of holidays past lingering throughout the house. The memories of years gone by are fresh and ripe for the picking. Laughter and excitement fill the unspoken thoughts and I wonder if these will ever fade. This is to some a very hard time after losing a loved one...wow, saying that out loud feels like I am walking in somone elses shoes. I don't talk like that, I never lost a loved one, I had never really been through this. But as I go through it this year, I realize that I am no longer in a haze. I no longer feel the stabbing pain of regret and denial. I have only shed a few tears so far, and they have been tears of joy at the delightful memories that the holidays evoke. Its almost like a legacy, a mantle, these memories. And then yesterday I recieved the best gift anyone could have ever given me...
I was in the garage as I often am these days, looking for something that has been boxed up and unpacked since we moved into my childhood home a year ago. I saw an unfamiliar box covered in dust and I immediately took a look inside. It was a box filled with notes and letters and rantings and tears. It was the fruit of many years of my moms emotional work. She had boxed up notebooks full of the "hot penning" she had done at one of her many "Beginning experience" weekends she had participated in after my dad and her had divorced. I felt like it was a gift from my mom to me at this time of my life. Something about being in your forties, you start to look at your life and realize where a lot of your habits, hangups, hurts and overall dysfunction stem from. Mine in particular always seem to be traced back to my relationship, or lack there of, with my dad. I can clearly see a pathway that has led me to the spot I am at right at this moment. Within these notes were letters that my mom had written to my dad, whether she sent any of them I have no idea, but the revealing of her raw emotions during that pivotal time in all of my families lives was so cathartic. It felt like a healing balm flowing over me as I read page after page...the passion with which she cherished her children, the mothering instinct that saw every effect and stumbling block that my fathers actions caused in her kids lives was like a light bulb turning on. Seeing the situation from her unique perspective was so insightful and helped me in ways I can hardly express. Part of what eats at me is the lonliness of those years, the feeling that I was alone and that no one stood up for me. But reading this reminded me that my brother, sister and I had an advocate, we had a lawyer, we had a friend...my mom. In the midst of all her pain she felt at the failed marriage she had, her main concern was what the effect on us was. All her hopes and dreams, diminished, but her belief in the goodness within each of her children was tireless and trusting. I heard her pain, but I also heard something much deeper resounding off of those pages...it was hope, it was purpose, it was love.
So I am sharing that today, because I really want to focus on the gifts money can't buy this season, the ones that are truly precious and if we just look around, are within our grasp daily. I have been given a gift in the months passed, being able to enjoy such bittersweet memories, but the priceless gift of my moms love and compassion is still resonating within my life. Take a look at the beautiful gifts you have been given, they are all around you, don't get hung up on what you can or can't buy, its temporary and feeds a need or a want for mere moments. Have a spectacular day unwrapping what is already yours.
I hesitated as whether to share this with you all, as it is truly a private moment of my heart...but there is something so theraputic about sharing this journey with others. So many people have been here with me as I have dealt with the loss of my mom...still I have felt so alone. It makes no sense, but the more I try to figure out how to deal with death, the harder it is...So as I sit here reflecting on the past year of my life, I wonder how I made it through with my sanity….I have been throughout the hardest time of my life and I have needed the closest person to me to go through it, but that person is the one who made it the hardest time. My mom passed away on Sept. 21st, 2009.
I was at work and the phone rang a little after 10 am. When I answered it was a familiar voice, my sister, saying "Moms dead". I screamed, "what??!!!!". She said it again. I immediately left work and raced to my moms house to find my sister and her husband, the cleaning lady, the paramedics and the police all there. I was shaking and confused and scared. I went into my moms bedroom and there she was laying in her bed. Her head and her body were covered with a sheet. I stood over her and I pulled the sheet down. She was in her night gown, her eyes were closed, her legs crossed, her skin was full of color. she was oddly still and you could tell something was starting to happen beneath the surface of her skin that was causing a discoloration. It was hot in the room and there were flies trying to come in.
The paramedics wanted the phone number of my moms doctor, which seemed impossible to find. When we finally did find it on the calendar she had been writing all her dates on, the paramedics called her and she said she would sign off on a natural cause. So they left and the police told us it was our responsibility to call a mortuary to come and pick up my mom. Thinking about that now, I have never felt so helpless and scared. The reality that my mom was in the next room with no life in her. The woman who had so lovingly taken care of me all these years, was in heaven. Her spirit had departed this world as I know it and was with God. There was no warning, no midnight call, no struggle for her last breath.
She was alone as she died. I didn't get to tell her how much I love her, although I am positive that she knew. I started looking around the house for some sign that she struggled thru the night. Some inkling that she was scared or that she didn't feel good. None. She was laying in bed like she a snuggled in for the night and expected to arise in the morning to her normal routine. She had left her dinner dishes in the sink and her crossword puzzle on the table. Her mail was in the same pile as always. The reason anyone even new she had passed away was because the cleaning lady had come in with her key. She just thought my mom must have already gone out for the morning or was sleeping still, so she let herself in when she didn't answer the door. those moments after coming to my moms house were the weirdest, saddest, most uncomfortable times of my life, yet I cherish them. I often wonder if I hadn't been there to see my mom in her bed, dead, would I carry these memories. No, I would have another memory of that day. A cold memory of her being in a hospital or morgue. What if she had collapsed somewhere, surrounded by strangers, what if she had struggled and couldn't cry out for help….so many what ifs. Day in and day out I carry these memories. Sometimes they make me really sad and almost traumatized, other times I don't allow myself to think about that. I wait for the day when the memory that shines the brightest is one of her alive, talking, laughing, playing with my kids. I want that to be the first thing I think of, not of her laying in the bed, and the feel of her lifeless skin under my hands and the cry inside my throat as I almost expected her to open her eyes and look at me. If I could have just one more hug from her, one more kiss, one more back rub, one more talk, one more cry….if she could be here now to understand my pain, to hold me and just be that one person that gets me. God, I miss her. there is an ache in my soul that just down't go away. My mom is truly my best friend. I spent hours and hours talking with her about her life and her heart. Her desires, her dreams, her disappointments. There was never a moment that I felt I couldn't go to her with my heart on my sleeve. I would walk up the stairs and in the front door and not say a word. Just her wrapping her arms around me would break the flood of tears inside me and she would hug me till they were gone. She would hear me when I spoke. She liked me. She loved to be around me and I around her. We could just be together and it made us both happy. I miss that. I miss that love, that smile, that complete acceptance. I really miss that.
The weeks, the months that have followed her death have been such a painful time. I never really realized how much I depended on her for so many things, still as an adult. Everyday I need her. I wonder if she knew how much she was needed and how much she would be missed. I hope she knows. She is the only one who took care of my kids, she is the only person I could talk to about my finances. She is the only person who knew how to understand my frustrations in life, yet encourage me to go on. Now I just feet frustrated and I really don't know what to do with it. I hope i can learn how to handle it. Daily I think of the things she taught me about life and about caring for my family, and about being a good person. Daily I also think of the things she taught me that are not healthy and are not life giving, but are ways she coped with pain, both emotional and physical. Ways she didn't give herself the credit she deserved and ways she always thought everyone elses needs and opinions were more important than hers. Ways she was like a little child inside, not fully matured emotionally, yet playful and naive to the evil parts of this world. She trusted that people would be honest and that noone would hurt her.
So this is the first of my mom chronicles. I am ready to let go of the pain of grief and misgivings. The woulds shoulds and what ifs….there is a new chapter that is coming to my life and I need to step into it. Its hard to step anywhere when I am carrying a mound of the past on my shoulders. So I expect layers to start to come off. Layer one…please be gone.
I have been thinking a lot about my future~ about what my plans are and how do they coincide with Gods plans for me….I had something happen the other day that I will share with you. Again, this is my journey, just sharing it as it happens. If it benefits you in anyway, I am so happy , truly…it make this so worthwhile.
I was on my laptop, like an other day, and it started to run very slowly. It froze, so I had to restart it. When I did I got a white screen with a big flashing folder on it. The folder had a question mark on it and my computer would go no further than that. I tried every trouble shooting maneuver I could think of. I looked online and tried to find what other people did when this happened. To no avail….so after a whole night and morning of frustration and dead ends, I called Apple Helpline. I found out that my warranty had just expired 3 days prior. So the gentleman I was talking to transferred me to his supervisor, Tim. He spoke to me for a few minutes and asked me just a couple of questions and said that it sounded like my hard drive needed to be replaced, but that my warranty was done. Then he proceeded to tell me that because it was so close to the end o the warranty he was going to make an "exception" on my warranty and that Apple would cover the cost of parts and labor on a new hard drive or whatever the problem was. I was sooooo happy!!! Then I realized that everything I had stored on my computer was gone. All the photos from the past year, all 3000 of them~ gone….music, songs, writings, poems….gone. I thought I should feel bad or angry or something, but the only emotion I felt was happy. I had literally honed my photography skills over the past year, I had spent hours editing, sharing, pouring over the memories that were contained there. All the family gatherings, friend hang outs, birthdays, holidays, babies born, kids sporting events, vacations, beautiful landscapes…….oh, I should have felt devastated, I couldn't get any of that back….but for some odd reason I felt free, released, refreshed, healed, happy….I felt happy they were gone, somehow lighter! I know, sounds crazy…then right smack dab in the middle of the Apple store, God starts talking to me ~illustrating to me what has happened…ready……here we go…hearing His voice so clearly in the middle of this crowded, congested Apple Store, this is what He showed me. He showed me the memories, he showed me that every time I looked at those photos, they did exactly what I intended them to do, which was to take me right back to the emotion of that moment I was looking at. But see this year, out of any year of my life, has been the most painful. I have gone through devastating losses and every moment of that pain was on that hard drive. Every painful milestone. Losing my mom in Sept. 09 became the gauge by which I began measuring events. "It was before"- or "it was after". The smile in my "after" photos never really reached my eyes. So, I went through the most intense heart pain I have ever felt, and had no idea how to handle it - or life- or relationships. The past year represented a time of excruciating emotional pain, deep introspection into my faith and my own personal beliefs, an intense phase of loneliness and isolation, a lost and abandoned hopelessness and depression..YET…a sense of change, of excitement, of transition. A deeper trust in God and His sovereignty, a willingness to not judge others according to my measuring stick or anyone elses, but to allow them to be who they are. A love that is intentional and passionate toward my husband and my boys. An appreciation for every relationship that has been carefully formed over the years. I had so much pain, but soooooo much gain. So what I learned in that Apple Store, as Ryan, replaced my damaged hard drive, by the favor of God…was that what had happened this year was finished. The work He had done in me was complete for this season. I don't need to relive it, or rehash it. I need to stop lingering and looking back, but intentionally, forcefully, on purpose, move forward. What I needed to come out with has been established in me. Sure there will be times I will remember, times I will feel that pain, but I have been given my Visa to travel, my passport to be free to step into the next season….its FALL now! I love Fall!
My encouragement to you friends of mine, or if you happen onto this note by some other way, regardless, is to be open, to share your heart, to remain pliable in Gods hands as he works on you. Sure there are painful and trying times that may be right in front of you, but as you go through them, you will start to understand that every step brings you closer to becoming who you are really intended to be. An for those who think they are just how God wants them and they have already arrived at that place of perfection, well, I would suggest to you that life is much more meaningful and enjoyable when you look at the stops along the journey and share them with your fellow man :) Love with all your heart, forgive over and over, listen to that still small voice inside, and walk in the spirit...most of all...BE GENUINE!
- 1. True, heart felt, gut busting laughter is definitely better than any medicine.
- 2. Stop and listen to your children, wisdom comes from their innocence.
- 3. The grass is never greener on the other side, water what you have and it will grow.
- 4. Memories of the past can haunt you, but allowing that to filter into the present can ruin the future.
- 5. Take what you have right in front of you and appreciate it before you end up wondering why you don't have it anymore.
- 6. Live in the moment.
- 7. Pray whenever the thought crosses your mind, you never know if you are the one with just the word that will break through.
- 8. Don't live life thinking what you should do, thats following someone elses plan.
- 9. Forgive yourself. Forgive others.
- 10. Don't compare yourself to other people, they will never measure up.
- 11. Allow yourself to love, even if you are not guaranteed love in return.
- 12. Life is not all about YOU all the time.
- 13. When you hit the end of your life, your success won't matter at all, what will matter is how deeply you loved those placed in your life.
- 14. When a person crosses your mind, give them a call or send them a note, it will make their day.
- 15. Tell people thank you and your welcome.
- 16. Be a person who keeps their word.
- 17. Its ok to let go of unhealthy relationships.
- 18. When joy fills your heart, aknowledge it and linger in that moment.
- 19. Allow God to love you unconditionally.
- 20. Last, but not least...Sleep well, Rest easy and enjoy the simple things.