Today marks a milestone in my life. Two years ago today my mom slipped into heaven. I cannot even begin to put into words what the loss of my mom has done to me. I can tell you that I am not the same person I was. Loss has a way of changing you. Honestly, I wouldn’t wish this plight on my least favorite person, I wish I could spare us all from the kind of pain the last two years has brought.
As the anniversary of her death approached, I knew I wanted to write something about her, a tribute or letter, something. But, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Every time I would sit down to write, I found myself avoiding opening a new Word document. When I finally did, it sat empty for days. Finally, I forced myself to start writing words in hopes that I could express what life has been like without her.
And, now that I am finally typing words on a page, I can hardly see them through the tears. I knew this would happen. I knew I would cry like a baby when I tried to tell you all how I feel. So instead of ignoring the fact that this is really hard, and that it makes me cry, I am going to share some of the more painful things I’ve dealt with over the last twenty four months, and some of what I’ve learned.
I just want to keep this all so real.
I know where my faith lies, I don’t doubt the love of my heavenly Father, I’m not angry, at least I don’t think I am. What I am is lonely. It’s ironic because I have a wonderful husband, a daddy that I adore, three beautiful children, precious sisters and their families and in laws and friends that are like family and yet, there is a place inside of me that stays so desperately empty.
There’s just no one in life like your momma.
I know there will be some who can’t relate to me, but to those who can, you know what I mean. No one loves you like your mom on your best days and your worst. No one cares about everything and nothing like she does. She kisses your boo boo’s, hugs you at night, and makes your world feel like a safe place.
I was lucky enough to have my mom as my best friend. Many of you who know me, know that we actually “shared” a job. We worked closely together for eight years. I called her every day and we had coffee several times a week. We attended the same church and she was in and out of my life ALL the time.
How do you fill the void after a loss like that?
I don’t have the answer. As a matter of fact, I don’t know if I’ll ever have the answer. What I do know is that I don’t pretend like everything is okay because it’s not, I don’t act like I feel happy all the time because I don’t and I don’t try to answer the question “why?” Because I can’t. I just pray a lot, cry often and remember with thankfulness that I was hers and she was mine.
What a gift.
As the days and now years roll by, life keeps going on. Kids grow, birthdays happen, the holidays come and you continue to celebrate the best you can. But, in all the happenings, there is always an empty space, one that we all try to avoid talking about so our happy event doesn’t feel so sad. I’ll never understand how happiness and sadness can co-exist like that, but they do.
This year my sweet niece will get married. She is overjoyed, we all are really. She couldn’t be marrying a nicer fellow, and he’ll be good to her, I have no doubt. Recently we had a bridal shower for her in my home. We invited family and a few friends, people we knew who’d remember her when she was just a little thing. My younger sister, our daughters and I were hosting the event and we wanted so much for our mom to be a part of it. Our hearts were broken that she wouldn’t be there in person to smile and be the proud grandma she was.
Family was everything to her.
We finally decided to go through her things and pick out a few pieces that we could include in the décor. That was so hard. Everything we looked at or touched brought back memories. She loved different dishes, especially the ones that seemed to have no matching pieces. She felt that they were original and in need of someone to appreciate their beauty. Basically what she had was a bunch of mismatched dishes, but she loved them and now we love them.
After spending some time laboring over what to use, we decided on a crystal bowl, a lace table cloth and a picture she had of my niece when she was just a little girl. When the day arrived for the shower, we carefully displayed mom’s things, and made up our minds to make the best of a painful and yet wonderful situation. How is that possible? For something to be painful and wonderful? I don’t know, I just know it was. Some things in life are just too great a mystery for me.
I’m learning to accept that.
Last Sunday I wore the dress to church that I wore to momma’s funeral. This is the second year in a row. I’ve decided that every year I will wear that dress on the Sunday before my mom’s passing. Every other Sunday of the year, it will remain in the closet. But for that one day, I will wear it and remember. Kind of a marker in time. You wonder why I would do that? I don’t have an answer, it’s just something I want to do as a remembrance.
Sometimes you just do things because they help your heart to feel a little better.
There is no other reason.
The past few years has brought a lot of change. My one and only daughter, moved out and went to college in another city. She had been at home for community college the two years since her graduation. A week prior to her departure, my first born son and middle child left home to attend college. He was fresh out of high school and looked for the life of me like a little boy. But, someone said eighteen was an adult and he believed them so he took off to chase his dreams and an education as well. Two months later, my mom passed. It seemed everywhere I looked something had changed.
I was left to pick up the pieces of my torn apart life.
These days I spend a lot of time talking to my heavenly Father, both on my knees and silently in my heart. I couldn’t have made it without Him. Next year my youngest child will graduate and head off to college; more change, more loss.
I always thought when my final child graduated and left home that my mom and I would sit on the porch and have long conversations about raising children and life in general. I thought I would take care of her in her old age and glean from her a lifetime of wisdom. I thought so many things, but now I know none of them will ever be.
She is gone.
I have been very candid with all of you in this blog post. I need you to understand that loss doesn’t come and go, it comes and stays. Those of us who have suffered its icy talons in our souls understand just how life changing it can be. Today, this second anniversary of her death, reminds me that we aren’t promised another breath. Knowing this has given me a new perspective on how I live my life. On how I look at relationships.
These days, I am loving deeper, taking more risks and focusing on my goals like never before. I use the lens of death to see how to live my life more clearly. Life is short, it’s hard, wonderful, painful and amazing all crammed into a number of years, months, days…and then it’s over. Our time on earth through.
What will the people you leave behind say of you? Did you love well? The THINGS won’t matter, what WILL matter is the time you spent with them and the love you did or did not show.
I hope you don’t feel sorry for me when you finish reading this. I know it is sad and revealing, it has been a very painful season. I hope you understand that my mom loved well and that is why she is so deeply missed. The tears I cry are a reminder of the great bond we shared.
I have no regrets.
I challenge you to hug your family today, tell them you love them and you always will. Be good to them.
One day they’ll be thankful that you gave them something beautiful enough to cry over when it’s gone.
A gift from my mom…
While cleaning out some drawers at my mom’s house, we ran across a stack of cross word puzzles. She loved them and continued to work them until she finally lost her sight. I was thumbing through the pile, looking at her handwriting and remembering when I noticed a folded sheet of typing paper pushed down into the middle of the stack. It would’ve been so easy to miss, I am so thankful I didn’t. On the paper was a short poem I believe mom left for us, I cried so hard when I read it.
I want to share it with you…
Death Is Nothing At All
I have only slipped into the next room. I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way you always used to.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, and think of me. Let my name be ever the household word that is always was.
Let it be spoken without the ghost of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant. There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you-for an interval-somewhere near, just around the corner.
All is well.