Sunday, August 21, 2011

If there's a heaven......

If there's a heaven I hope that its all that you thought it would be. Your faith was so strong and you had no fear of going because you knew how beautiful it would be and the peace you would find there. I hope you were right.

If there's a heaven I hope that you can see that I'm okay now. I'm scarred and changed forever but I'm finally learning how to live in this new world without you. You can stop worrying now.

If there's a heaven I hope you can see how your grand babies and their babies have grown. You would be so proud of the people they are becoming and how we see your love in everything they do. I know that holding them was the one thing that could make even one of your hardest days okay.

If there's a heaven I want you to know that you are by far the most beautiful thing that I ever had in my life. When your sun is gone you realize just how dark the world is without it and you miss the warmth of its presence. I feel that since you've been gone.

If there's a heaven I want you to know that our family has changed since you left but we're okay. Relationships have changed, some of us have been drawn closer, trying to fill that hole in our hearts left by you, and others have moved farther away but we have all worked through this time the best way we know how. That's all we can do.

If there's a heaven I want you to know that Daddy is okay. He misses you, like we all do, but he gets a little stronger each day at living this new life without you. He has found love again so you don't have to worry about him being alone.

If there's a heaven I want you to know that I'm sorry that you had to see the suffering I've gone through since you've been gone. The sadness that consumed me when you died almost killed me too. I tried to be strong, momma, and I try everyday but the loss of your love and your smile makes this world an almost unbearable place sometimes. It hasn't gotten any easier. I've just gotten better at making it through the day.

If there's a heaven I want you to know just how very special you were and what a difference you made in so many lives. Your loving heart, your sweet smile, your innocence. For a woman who was so quiet and humble, you touched so many more people than you will ever know.

If there's a heaven I want you to know just how lucky I was that you decided to be my mom. The decision you made to raise me as your own was the one gift that made me who I am. I can't imagine my childhood without you and the love you gave, it surrounded me, protected me, held me up. Thank you, momma.

If there's a heaven I want you to watch over us, momma. We need an angel like you looking out for us. Couldn't do any better than you.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Misery changes everything

"Grief is a journey that you ultimately take alone, along with your broken heart."

One of the things I have found along my journey without my mom is that when something like this happens to you, something so powerful that permanently disrupts life as you know it, things change. Its inevitable, I guess. The relationships you had before this happened, seemed strong, supportive, familiar, beneficial. But in the end, when you begin to see some light in your life, you re-evaluate every one of them. The person they knew before is gone. Heartache and pain has changed you and you can't change back. Even if you tried, you just can't. Its as if the person you've spent your whole life becoming, is gone. There are fragments of who you were before that show themselves from time to time, moments of happiness that can mask the change to others, but your new persona ultimately arrives. There's no stopping it. Can they know and love this new version of you? Is there enough of your former self still there to find the ties that bind us? There's an uncertainty with this change. A confusion about what to do next. Even a feeling of being reborn into a life you don't really know how to live yet.

What I guess I'll take from what I've learned so far is that nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever be the same. Some say change is good. New opportunities, new horizons, blah, blah, blah. I don't really know if I believe the whole "change is good" saying but I do know that change is here and its not leaving. So, new friend, how do we do this? I'm broken, uninspired, trapped in a whirlpool of emotion. Feel free to pull me out anytime and tell me how in the hell we're going to fix this one, 'cause I don't know.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Her love all around me

"Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes, by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers, and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one mother in the whole world."-- Kate Douglas Wiggin

I saw my mom today. I often notice her when I least expect it and it always takes me by surprise, each time I see pieces of the love that she left behind. Even though its been more than a year, her love continues to shape our lives, though we may not notice it right away. And we continue to pass on that love to the babies of the family that will never know her or the special person she was.

I see her influence in the lives of my family, my father, my sisters, my nieces and their children and the people they have become. I saw her in the look of adoration my niece had for her son as he celebrated his 2nd year on this earth. I see her in the way my father cares for the puppies she left behind, lovingly comforting them and tending to their needs. I see her in the way my sister loves and cares for her grandbabies, helping them to become strong but loving people. I see her in the way my sister stays strong, when so many close to her are suffering. I see her in the way my niece holds onto her beliefs to get her through times when her heart aches for things she dreams of. All of these things are pieces of my mother's love.

Throughout our lives, my mother gave us little pieces of herself , giving us the one thing she knew would stay imprinted on our hearts and minds, long after she was gone. Her love. If we were doubting ourselves, she was there to build us up. If we were worried about a trial in our lives, she was there to give us hope that it would okay. If we were celebrating a special event, she was the first there to congratulate us and tell us how proud she was. If we were hurting and needed someone to let us break down, she was there, to wipe our tears and hold our hands. If we felt like everyone had turned their backs on us, she was there to tell us we'd be okay standing on our own. If we worried that things would never get better, she was there to show us that even if they weren't, things would be alright, that we'd make it through. Her strength was unimaginable, the depth of her love was immense. She held us all for as long as she could. Then she left the pieces behind, to help us make it on our own. She's still here, inside each of us, shaping our lives, warming our hearts, giving us strength we might not have had without her.

Although I wish that I could hold her beautiful hand again and stroke her soft hair, I'm comforted knowing that if I look around at the family created by her love, I'll see her, I'll feel her. The pieces of her are still here. They're are in the little things we do for others and they're in the way we love. We owe that all to her. She made sure she left those pieces behind. What a gift she gave us.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One of those days

The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her.   Author Unknown

Gosh, I miss my mom today. Its one of those days when I wish I could call her, hear her sweet voice, and talk about normal stuff, even for just a few minutes. What did you do today? How have you been feeling? Do you think Greg would like some beans this week? Have you been watching Survivor? All normal, uneventful conversations but so precious to me now. How I wish I could talk to her for even a moment, just to feel that comfort that her voice gave. She had the most tender voice. And you always knew that in that moment, you were the most important thing on her mind. Every word was one of love, caring or concern. She always wanted to make sure that we were okay. That was her way. How I'm missing that today.

Its funny how I can sit now and remember conversations we had, seemingly obscure at the time, but now like wonderful, heartbreaking home movies in my mind. Her expressions and the way she spoke were so genuine and those images now are the recordings of the most beautiful person I've known. On days like this, when her memory is so close to the surface, I sit and flip through my mental recordings, pausing on moments that I wish I had cherished more, and feel sorry for myself, wishing I had even one of these moments back, in real time. Longing for this can make the coping even harder, but when we lose someone that we love as much as I did my mom, I think that the pain we feel is our price for loving, so I've come to expect it. But to love and be loved by someone like her, its worth the pain I feel now and the tears streaming down my face. I was so lucky to have her as my mom.

In my life I had heard people talk of not taking a moment for granted, of making the most of each day, of living today like it was your last. But we never realize the truth of those statements until its too late. Life gets in the way and the longer we live, the more moments that slip away unnoticed. Then the day comes when the story stops and you long for what you had all along, but its over. There is no rewind, fast forward or pause on life and I hate that. I've come to accept it but I still don't like it. Not one bit.

Let everyone you love know how you feel. Do it today. And say it often. Your movie may be almost over too. Don't wait.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stitches of love

"There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart."

Though my mother never knew it, she was an artist. She wasn't a painter, with a pallette of colors to cover a canvas. She wasn't a sculptor, creating images from blocks of stone. Her art was made up of tiny stitches of love.
My mother loved to make quilts and she made one for everyone in her family. The adult children received theirs on their birthday and the grandchildren, when they turned 16. It was her way of giving those that she loved, a piece of her, something to cherish even when she was gone. Something to keep us warm when her arms were no longer here to hold us. She put her heart and soul into each quilt, carefully choosing the pattern, the design, the colors, making sure it was just right for the person that it would go to. But the most amazing part of each piece she made was the tiny, perfect stitches. Thousands upon thousands of tiny, perfect stitches, done by hand, covering quilts that would take months to piece and sew, and hundreds of hours to complete. She could have completed each quilt in a matter of days if she had used a machine but doing it by hand was her way of showing us just how much we meant to her. Each stitch was a warm hug, a soft kiss on the cheek, a sweet smile, a hand held softly for no reason. Each stitch was an act of love.

She would get so excited when she had completed the next quilt, eager to show us, to see what we thought and hoping that it was alright. Even though it should have been obvious to her just how beautiful her work was, she always wondered if it was good enough, wanting it to be perfect. That's the way she was about everything she did for us. She gave her all.

Now that she's gone, seeing that quilt in the closet brings back a flood of emotions each time I see it. Just thinking about the hours she spent making those tiny stitches, just for me and each one full of love, causes me to hold it to my chest and cry. Not only tears of sadness because I want her back so badly but tears of gratefulness that I had her at all. To have someone that loves you so completely is truly a gift. My mother was a gift.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Remember me

"To live on in the hearts we leave behind is not to die."Thomas Campbell

The days following my mother's death, I was amazed at the number of people who came to our family to give their condolences and offer acts of kindness during our time of sadness. It was really profound to see the sheer number of people that she had touched that I had never met. She was so loved by all that met her and it made me so proud to meet these people in her everyday life that would miss her too. From the owner of the nail salon that she visited each month for her manicures and pedicures, to the man who took care of her yard, they were all grieving her, missing her smile and gentle voice. She made an impression on so many with her kindness, her compassion, her vulnerability. With my mom there was no competition, no judgement, no expectations. Only love. And she offered all she had to everyone she knew. She was forgiving, trusting, honest. When you looked into her eyes, you saw nothing but tenderness and love. She was honestly the most kind person I've ever known.

So seeing these strangers come to show their respect and shed tears of sorrow with us shouldn't have surprised me. But its not often that you see so many that loved someone so much, especially when they may have known them only a short time. And the funny thing is, mom would have been so surprised and a little embarrassed that so many made such a fuss. I don't think that she truly knew how much she was loved, not only by her family but by those she had touched along the way.

I began to think about my own life, the people in it, past and present, and how I would be remembered. Will those I leave behind remember me with love and affection? Will they miss our hugs and laughter? Will they feel a loss in their heart like I feel for my mom? Or have I really touched others in the way that she did? In my life, I've tried to love completely, even those that made it difficult, and I hope my love will be missed. I know that I have given all that I can to those I care about and I've tried to make a difference in others along my way, but who knows what that love will leave behind. Did I love enough? I just hope that when I am gone that those who knew me will remember me as a person who did her best to make others in her life happy. And as a person who loved fully. That's all I can ask.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pieces of her

"If I'd known our last visit would be our last, I would have stayed just a little longer.
If I'd known that our last hug would be our last, I would have hugged a little tighter.
If I'd known that our last "I love you" would be our last, I would have said it just once more.
If I'd known that our last "goodbye" would be our last, I would have never said "goodbye" at all."

I found a card from my mom today. It was the last Birthday card she ever sent me. At the time I originally received it, it wasn't a surprise, because my mom never forgot a birthday. And the sentiment wasn't a surprise either, since my mom carefully picked out each card, reading dozens before she settled on just the right one for each member of her family. We all knew that when our birthday came, we may not receive cards from anyone else, but my mom's would be there, every year.

As I held this card to my chest and my heart began to break a little, I realized how lucky I am to have these pieces of her all around me. I can find remnants of her love everywhere. I open the closet and find a sweater she brought me from Niagra Falls. She had always wanted to go there, so my dad took her. When she came back she was so excited to tell me how beautiful it was. Her smile was unbelievable. I dust the curio cabinet and I find the pieces of Frankoma Pottery she brought back for me from her trip to Oklahoma because she knew how much I loved their animal figurines. And she couldn't bring back just one. She brought back 5. Her generosity is something that imprinted on me and continues to inspire me to this day. I look in the cupboard for a container for leftovers and I see one of her tupperware bowls. She always loved to make beans and meatloaf for my husband. I don't eat meat but she knew how much he loved her meatloaf so she made a point to make it at least once a month for him. I open the freezer to get some ice and I see the last meatloaf she ever made for me. She was in alot of pain but made one anyway and sent it home for me to bake when my husband wanted it. I never got around to it and now I can't throw it out. Its been there over a year, and its way too late to consider cooking it, but somehow, hanging on to it, I have a little piece of her love, there when I need it. I walk to the front door and there she is, in the pictures on my wall. Pictures of her in Hawaii, looking so beautiful and happy. She had always wanted to go, so when I had the chance to do it, I took her and my dad, and she had such a wonderful time. I can still see her sitting on the Lunch Whale Watching Cruise we went on, sitting at the table, stringing Plumeria flowers to make a lei. When we returned, her eyes would beam with excitement when she told others about her trip.

All of these things catch me by surprise and open the wound just a little each time I find one but they comfort me too. Just knowing that she is all around me still, her love showing itself in the smallest of ways, makes me feel like I haven't completely lost her, she isn't completely gone. God, how I wish she wasn't gone.