Collective Hope

In times of collective grief, trauma, and stress, also live moments of hope.

In 2017, I lost my mom suddenly. It seemed as though the world kept moving and had left me behind. The sadness was palpable in every breath and the grief seeped into every conversation. It felt like it would last forever.

And in those moments it did last forever.

And then forever passed.

And I caught glimpses of laughter and memories of – well, nothing, really. It was all the little moments that made the difference and warmed my heart when I needed it.

Like how she would sing to birds.

Like how she loved to take pictures of clouds.

Like how she brought circus peanuts to family potlucks.

Like how she would clean her house but never really finish cleaning. Ever.

Like how she would laugh with me. Listen to me. Hug me.

And also like James and I this morning. We snuggled and chatted. No topic in particular. Just together. Being goofy.

When we look back on this time of collective loss throughout our world and in each of our families, I think this will be one of the pieces James remembers. Goofiness and glimpses of hope.


Years ago, in one of my moments of feeling loss so deeply, I looked at this sunflower in our garden, through weepy eyes, and there it was…

A heart.

A reminder that hope lies constantly within loss. Resilience exists within enduring what feels too heavy. And love moves us forward together. The sadness comes too, but we wrap it with authenticity and love.

Today, wrap yourself in love. Sometimes sad, always, authentic. Love.

Emotionally Full

Lately I have been emotionally full. Feeling tired at 5pm. Wanting to cry at any moment. Not sure what is triggering me or what my response will be, but feeling an internal pull towards sadness. I have not given myself the appropriate time to be still. Silent. To pause and be present. To Breathe.

And I have only been able to sit and think about my mom in the peripheral of my life, which feels both healing and heartbreaking. I have been longing to tell her stories about my life, my work, my friends, and of course my family. I have wanted her here while we cook dinner, asking me questions and wholeheartedly investing in my life story. I have wanted her silliness around. Her random singing and goofy noises. Her hugs and back pats. Her.

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(Photo of my mom talking to a bird… Pretty common place if you know my mom…)

Part of me wonders if I go to grief because I feel sad or if I feel sad because I am grieving. How does one tease these apart? And to some degree, won’t my grief always be intertwined into every part of my life from here on out? My heart keeps bringing me back to my grief, so how do I remain present in the grief without giving into the sadness? How do I grieve happily – or at the minimum with compassion and grace for myself?

And anger is also present lately. Cold Antibody Hemolytic Anemia and eventually a massive stroke. Why and how? At the end of the day, my mind still can’t make sense of the whole situation. It was simply not fair. She should be here now, randomly stopping by to see what we are up to. I would invite her in for lunch. We would chat. She’d want to play with the boys, talk to Casey about music, and wrestle with our dog. She loved people. She loved us. She loves us.

I still feel the love. I think that is one of the hardest parts about grief. It is because of the joy of love that grief stings so bad.

And as I embrace the feeling of it simply not being fair, I am also trying to move towards healing by embracing the memories of love and warmth and joy that she so often provided to me and so many others. Wholeheartedly investing in our lives. It takes a special person to do that. Really truly invest in others. And man, I miss that.

I suppose my grief will always be with me as I will never fully mend, but I can keep sharing my story. Perhaps my experience resonates with you. If so, please know that in this universe there is another person feeling emotionally full with you.

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Glimpses of Gratitude

Last weekend we enjoyed some small town living with the Greens. We meandered through the town square, let the dogs frolic at the reservoir, and played football in between cups of coffee.

It wasn’t with my mom and I miss her dearly… But in the losses are also glimpses of gratitude for what I have. And GG and Papa are some of the best kind of people around. Lots of conversation and the occasional fart joke. Good times. Good people. Smelly dogs. Full hearts.

Make Your Own Rainbow

One positive aspect of social media is the ability to feel connected to a loved one after they’re gone.

I can sign in to Facebook and look at my mom’s beautiful face. In a video I can hear her infectious laugh. I can see her dear friends post about her lovely spirit. And I can read posts she wrote herself, imagining her voice as I read.

Today, I looked at her Facebook photos and something stopped me at this rainbow.

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“Lovely little storm just flitted by, dropped a few raindrops on my patio, and left me with a rainbow. I really appreciate the rainbow.” – Debby Susan Mosher 8/10/2016

What a simple and powerful statement.

But life doesn’t always give us rainbows. Sometimes we have to make our own.

So I told my family I was feeling funky today. I needed to be outside and to somehow connect to the energy and space around me.

We went to the dog park.

We drank afternoon coffee.

We rode our bikes.

We had a paint gun battle.

And in all of this, my funk is still slightly there but I can feel a shift in my presence. I can feel a lighter energy on the horizon – maybe after a family snuggle sesh and good night’s sleep.

Perspective is everything. Seeing the storm as lovely and appreciating the moment no matter the presence of rain or rainbow.

And sometimes we just have to make our own rainbows.

Mom Hug

I really miss my mom today. She has been weighing on my mind and heart all week long and I’ve been feeling a little heavy and a little sad, with some stress sprinkled on top.

I could use a good mom hug. A mom moment. Full of laughter and silliness. A dash of annoyance. Then gratefulness for such joy and friendship together. I really, really miss this.

So I’m just putting this out into the universe. If you have lost someone important to you, know that you are not alone. Know that I, too, cry at inopportune times (like at the eye doctor this week). I, too, talk to my mom out loud in the car when I’m driving home. I, too, sit inside on a Saturday afternoon deeply missing my loved one.

It is not like this every day, but it is like this today. And I am ok with that. It needs to be. Just be. I let it flow through me. I let some tears fall. I take a deep breath, and I tell my mom I love her and miss her.

And I imagine the feel of a good mom hug.

Grieving Grief

One year and 21 days after my mom died, I find myself in a new form of grief.

Life continues. The world keeps spinning. The universe keeps spreading stardust and energy in all directions.

And I keep working. I keep parenting. I keep moving and eating and sleeping.

There are days that go by and I don’t think of her. And then a day comes that I do – and with this day comes a shame, a sense of guilt that I have come to this place where I don’t think of her everyday.

And then I feel another layer of loss. A grief that grieves the raw, intense feelings of loss because then it was impossible to forget her – to feel it so strongly that she was always with me in my unmistakable feeling of grief.

It is almost as if it would be easier to have raw grief. People understand this. They know it is new and awful to have lost such a loved one. But as time passes it seems to lose its potency. People don’t know whether or not to bring it up. They can’t see tears in your eyes and therefore you are alright, right?

This is my grief now. It is not intense. But it is not gone either. It is here in every sigh and breath. It is here in my working and parenting. It is here. She is here and in some sort of stardust and energy, she is always here.

So I pause and honor this moment that she is in my thoughts. Smile at her passing through. Sense a hug on my shoulders. And keep on living with kindness and love.

The mountains are calling and I must go

moutains-calling

We are returning to Colorado next week to celebrate family, love, and my mom. Her birthday was Sunday, July 1st. She would have been 66. The one year anniversary of her death is July 16th. And we will be here:

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Lily Pad Lake in Silverthorne, Colorado. This was one of my mom’s favorite hikes and my family’s as well. Casey, James and I hiked here last July, while I frantically texted back and forth with my siblings about my mom’s first blood transfusion. It was after this hike that I would drive hours into the night – to make it home in time to see and talk to my mom before she slipped away.

We didn’t know mom’s burial wishes. We remembered past conversations about her wanting to be buried next to Grandma and Grandpa Mosher and also being buried in Colorado… So we’re doing both. Mom is here for us to honor with visits as much as we want. And after July 16, 2018, she will also be in Colorado, sprinkled among the lilypads, aspens, and mountains that she loved so much.

I feel excited and anxious at the same time. It will be healing, but yet another closure to something that I don’t want closed.

As I move into this space and experience next week, I aim to be gentle with myself and gentle with my family. To do only what feels right. To feel whatever I feel. To let people help. To talk about it – or don’t. And to hold onto hope.

Hold onto hope.

To rely on humor and fun as a family. To be silly together. To laugh together. To cook together, play games together, hike together – and build new memories together.

And my mom will be a part of these memories. She’s here in spirit. Always. Here in Lawrence. There in Colorado. And everywhere in between. Alongside the wind. During the storms. Upon the leaves. In the sunshine.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into the trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

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Dreams

I dreamed about my mom last night.

I had a work meeting in the hospital and she was in an ICU room there. And yes – I had forgotten my pants because that’s what dreams do. I was running back and forth from the meeting to visit my mom, then to text my family to update them on her status.

In my dream she died. Multiple times. And the doctors brought her back to life – and not her groggy, low hemoglobin life, but her vibrant, funny, big smile life. Each time she would tell me how glad she was to be alive.

And then she would die again. And then she would be up and smiling again. Over and over as I was running pantsless to meetings.

At one point I told her I was so glad she was alive so we could take one last picture together. I then spent the rest of my dream looking for a good background for the photo. I don’t remember ever getting to take the photo in my dream, but I do remember looking around for things that she loved to be the backdrop.

A budding tree

A cloud-filled sky

Birds flying overhead

Tulips emerging in the garden

Then I woke up. I got myself dressed – happy to say I remembered my pants – to go work out with my sister. As soon as I got out of my car I embraced her and started crying. We cried together for a minute about mom. About feeling there are still lingering “this is the last thing…” moments. About missing her dearly.

She is lingering with me today and that may just be how today goes. A little melancholy as I move through this day looking for things my mom loves. Luckily it is Spring, so there is an abundance of budding trees, cloud-filled skies, birds flying overhead, and tulips emerging from the garden.

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Sunflowers

The time period after about 5 months of a loss is a weird, vacuum like space, where time continues with normalcy and grief finds expected and unexpected moments to seep in.

It has been over 9 months since my mom died. This time last year she was helping us weed our garden beds, preparing the space for a summer of butterfly bushes, roses, coneflowers, irises, lilies, and sunflowers. Now, as the plants gain new life and grow green in the soil, I look at my garden beds and feel connected to them with deep sadness, gratitude, and joy – a balled up mixture of grief.

grief shifts over time

like tides

flowing over

and

through you

with love

The trick is to be gentle with myself and let the tides flow over and through as they need to. Showing empathy to myself and those experiencing my seeping grief. Honoring vulnerability with my emotions, thoughts, and overall process of being. Continuing to give and receive love in the face of normalcy, seeping grief, and all that is in between.

My mom was good at showing vulnerability and empathy. She would tell you when something bothered her and share your perspective when you needed connection.

  • She would call to see how my day went.
  • She would ask how my children are doing.
  • She would share when she felt left out.
  • She would share when she felt appreciated.
  • She would want to know all about everything in my life.
  • She would give great big hugs
  • She would come over in the evening to make dinner with us and say, “What can I do, Toozy-Dooze?”

These moments of love are everlasting in her memory.

And although her life was cut way too short for reasons I will probably never fully understand or come to terms with, she filled her living days with immeasurable moments of giving and receiving love. As the sunflowers in my backyard will emerge from the ground and follow the sun for as long as they can, so did my mom.

Thank you, mom, for teaching me how to be vulnerable and empathetic. I will move into this week looking for ways to give and receive love – to live my brightest life.

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Wilt & Rise

So I forgot to come to work over spring break and water my mom’s flower…

As I sit here looking at it… It feels much like my grief.

I wilt, feel dry and wither towards the floor as I find myself sad and overwhelmed.

Then I am filled – with something – kindness from a friend, a hug from a sibling, a sense of care from our lost loved one – like water to a flower.

And then I rise.

And then I forget to water myself and I wilt.

And then I rise again.

Last week I was wilting.

This week I am rising.

Here’s to the process, not the result. Here’s to watering ourselves with love and kindness so that we may honor the wilting and find strength to rise.

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