Long Vacation

It feels like my mom is on a long vacation.

She’ll arrive at the airport this afternoon and I’ll go pick her up.

She’ll have so many stories to tell me on the way home.

We’ll go to her house first to unpack and feed the cats. Jasper and Sweet Pea greet her at the door with kitty meows and nuzzles. Her house smells like her and there are piles of half read books and notes with bible verses and sayings scribbled on them.

She’ll look in her fridge and talk about all the spoiled food she should have eaten before she left.

She’ll snuggle the cats and we’ll sit for a minute as neighbors stop by to say hi.

She is loved by so many.

Then we’ll go to my house so she can see the boys.

First is Otis the dog. He’ll howl with excitement and jump all over her – which she both loves and hates. He’ll settle down after a few minutes and sit next to her so she can pet his back.

Then she’ll say hi and hug James and go down to poke her head in and say hello to Mr. Miles.

She’ll say hi to Casey and ask what cool work projects he’s doing and if he’s been playing music lately. She is so proud of Casey as a writer, a musician, a husband and a dad.

I’ll start some dinner and she’ll sit on the stool next to me. Her grayish-blonde hair will be down and beautiful and she’ll wear comfy pants and a patterned top – with matching earrings and necklace, of course.

She’ll ask about my day, my work, my family and my life.

She invested so much time in everyone she knew. She wanted to know it all – the ins and outs of their life, their hopes and dreams, and their epic fails. She wanted a deep relationship with everyone. She wanted to learn about their life and how to better her own. She craved these conversations and was always willing to dive in deep.

We’ll talk while I make dinner.

She’ll offer to help and I’ll say I’ve got it, let’s just chat.

Then, we’ll sit down at the dinner table to eat together and the boys will get out a game of some sort. She loves the humor and laughter that accompanies family game nights.

We’ll eat and play and laugh.

She’ll help me bring in dishes and clean up the kitchen.

We’ll chat some more.

She’ll give us all great big hugs.

She gives the best hugs.

And then she’ll head out waving good bye, honking her car horn as she drives past the house, knowing that we’ll see her soon.

Reach Out

Grief is a shapeshifter. At different times of day. In different situations. With different emotions. Never predictable.

Sadness in the morning flows into distraction at work, met with joy of children that grows into anger about loss, followed by simple daily tasks that poke at grief for fear of forgetting.

I went to visit my mom this week. I sat on the ground – it was as close as I could get. I told her about my week, about her friend’s birthday, about her grandchildren. And my eyes rained sadness as though they were just now realizing she was there – and not there. I put flowers down for her and noticed the difference of the new stems with the old – a combination of flowers long gone and flowers new today. The scars of life, visible and vulnerable. Piled on mom with love and sorrow.

 

flower stems

The next two days, my grief lingered as though it was again raw and new. Shapeshifting into sadness at any given moment. Seeping into conversations that have nothing to do with mom. Seeping into everything.

So I reached out. I sent a text to my closest family – on the same strand in which Casey texted them from the hospital, “Anybody that can come should come now”. I told them I was struggling and needed kind words.

And they responded.

They sent me kindness, love, memories, emojis. And offered to come over and hug and cry with me.

Grief is a lot of things. And each person’s experience is different.

But what grief should not be – is lonely.

Please reach out. I am here. Others are here. You matter. I matter. Collectively we can support one another as grief shape shifts from one moment to the next.

And mom’s flowers were beautiful.

flowers

Getting crapped on

Man. There are just some days that we get crapped on.

  • Someone is unkind
  • Someone is very sick
  • Someone just lost custody of their daughter
  • Someone’s baby just died

And I hold a space for people to feel safe to share these things with me – so they do.

And sometimes being the on the receiving end can be heavy.

And it is rainy outside, so there’s that.

World, please stop crapping on people.

Thanks.

Update: I then received a call from my husband and a text from my sister just checking on me. And then I drove through Taco Bell and had the kindest interaction with an employee, who wished me a fantastic rest of my day. Then I laughed with my teenager and snuggled the cat and dog.

Self care doesn’t have to be some grand gesture. More often it is the small moments throughout our day that remind us what we have to be grateful for.

So world, thanks for the reminders of joy. If you could do this for everyone, that would be helpful.

Loving Verbs

Sometimes words are hard to put on paper because the emotion and sense of what one is trying to describe is just too large to be contained in sentences.

I’ve started writing many times this week, but feel as though I’ve come up short.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my mom was a verb. Everything she did was a verb. An action to benefit someone in her life – perhaps me, my siblings, a member from church or bible study, a stranger on the street, and often herself last.

In times when family is around, there is still an air in the room, a sense of what is missing. Her casseroles that always had a weird ingredient. Her one-on-one time set aside for each person. Her phone call before bed just to see how I am. Her laugher.

Her.

How can I write her? She was too big. Too special. Even in the times she was annoying – as every mom can be – she loved me unconditionally. She lived her life through verbs. Loving verbs that she gave to others freely and accepted in return.

The world needs more people who live life through loving verbs.

 

Funeral Dress

My heart aches for the families who lost three young lives due to a shooting in Lawrence this weekend. I know how crazy hard it has been to suddenly lose my mom. I cannot fathom losing a child. My heart aches for my city, that is searching for answers and grieving a loss of its sense of safety and security. And my heart aches for all those impacted by the most recent and deadliest mass shooting in history.

My heart aches.

So, today I decided to wear the dress I bought for my mom’s funeral.

It is a way to embrace my need for her today. I know that wearing this dress will help me feel close to her. Why hide it in my closet – looking at it every time I go in there?

Our loved ones are meant to be celebrated. We should wear them and carry them with us. We should talk about them and listen to their favorite songs. We should remember them and make new memories for them.

Yesterday was Sunday – a typical day for mom to make plans to see all three of her children. Sarah, Jon, and I were all busy doing our own things with our own families yesterday, but we talked before bed about how mom would have made time to see each of us that day – and how proud of us she would be.

So I wear this dress to remember mom, to carry her with me, and to make new memories.

To those that are grieving today, I am with you.