Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mama,

So I decided to change things up on my blog.  To make it what it has already become... a one way communication with you.

Do you remember Bruce Almighty when he thinks he can do God's job and then logs in to check the prayer requests.  That's what I wish was true.  Like we had an email system, a way to chat back and forth.  That would be so nice.

There are so many little questions to ask you.  Dad was cleaning out a couple weeks ago, and, of course, I came home with boxes of stuff.  And as I am looking through things, I realize that I have no background story to so many things you saved.  And since my grandmother is gone, too, there will never be answers to so many questions.  There's this red elf doll you saved, and I remember seeing it all through the years, but I have no idea where it came from or what its meaning is.  I most likely asked you at some point or another, but I can't recall it.  The memory is so frustrating.  I want to remember certain things but can't.  Want to forget others but can't seem to push them out of my mind.

The kids and I have settled back into the school routine.  Homework is still no fun.  But luckily, David is doing so much better and keeping up with things independently.  Madalyn is as dramatic as ever about all things.  In fact, I have to make her sit down tonight and work on some homework and begin studying for a test on Friday, and I'm not looking forward to it.  Not at all.

I'm trying to make myself do some little things around the house I just kept putting off.  We found this long piece of slate when we were out riding one day and brought it home.  So I've started painting it, making it into a sign for outside.  I need to finish it up before this weekend.  Scott is off, and football begins, so hopefully we will have a good time.  Fall is just around the corner, though it's hotter now than it has been all summer.  But the leaves are beginning to rustle and brown a bit.  Another fall without you.  Hard to believe.

Love always...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mama,

I feel like I'm treading water here lately.  Doggy peddling in the ocean, flipping over on my back to rest by floating every so often.  I'm just so damn tired, Mama.  Tired of the ups and downs and all arounds.  Nothing major is going on.  The kids are healthy and back at school.  We have everything we need and most of what we want.  We are living in the blissful bubble of suburbia.  But all I can think about lately is that I just want to talk to you.

Robin Williams committed suicide the other day.  And if you were alive, we would have sorted out the whole deal over the phone.  We would have reminisced about all his movies we loved so dearly... Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire, and What Dreams May Come.  Remember that one?  The one where the daughter dies, and then husband (played by Robin Williams) dies, and the wife just can't go on and ends up killing herself.  We watched it together.  It was weird, but I liked it.  Sadly, I can't remember if you liked it or not, and that bothers me so much.  Anyway, I would tell you how ironic it is that he was in this movie about going through the gates of hell to retrieve his wife so they could be together in heaven, and now here he's gone and killed himself.  It's so sad, him being so talented and amazing and at the same time so desperate.  My heart breaks for his family because I can't imagine how much more complicated it might be to mourn someone who chose to end it instead of mourning someone who fought so hard to stay.

I feel a little isolated, like I'm hiding in a closet somewhere for a little while.  I wouldn't say I'm depressed, but rather I feel I'm just wandering with little to no purpose.  I used to be abustle all the time working on this and that and completing projects around the house.  Even shortly after you died, I kept myself fairly busy.  But lately, I just don't have the energy.  Or the motivation to start anything.  Well, maybe I am a little depressed, but isn't that a part of grief?  I don't know.  I am so very sick of grief.  It's a lonely thing in and of itself, and the further time goes on, the more lonely a feeling it becomes.  No one wants to chat about how much you miss your Mama who's been dead for over two years, how you have to stop your mind from spinning, how your chest feels so heavy sometimes you wish you could take it off and sit it to the side just to get a break.  No one wants to chat about this heaviness, this emptiness.  How can something so empty feel so heavy at the same time?

Surprisingly, I miss my little Millie kitty way more than I thought I would.  It's quiet in the house.  You know how loud and talkative that cat had always been!  And now, no matter what, when I sit down there's no Millie to come and purr in my lap.  I do miss that.  I don't miss the throw up and litter box, but I do miss Millie.  But no one really wants to talk about that, either, except the kids.  We talk about her and how we miss her.

Oh well.  Life moves on.  It moves and moves and moves whether you'd like it to or not.  And so it goes.  But I wonder if there will ever be a day in my life that I don't long to talk to you just one more time... I doubt.

Love always.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mama,

I hope Millie is with you now.  Everyone always says that all dogs go to heaven, but no one ever discusses cats.  Not many people like them, you know, so I think that's why folks would rather not discuss their eternal life in heaven.  How could you ponder heaven if you couldn't stand cats and would be stuck there for infinity with them?

Anyway... Millie is gone, and she is wherever cats go after they leave the earth.  And I hope she's with her Gammie.  She always loved you.  Remember how if you came to my house, no matter where she was, if she heard your voice, she came running and talking and rubbing her little self against your legs.  Sweet Mill-Mill.

For so many years now, I've been dreaming about the day there would be no more cat hair, litter, puke in various dried-up states all over my house, and no more loud deaf kitty cat meowing at all hours of the night and day.  But, I tell you, the past two weeks have been tough when faced with the decision to really end it all.  It's hard to look at an animal and say to them, "It's time for you to go."  My emotions were so torn about the whole thing.  But I knew that she was failing terribly, and, honestly, I couldn't handle finding her dead.  I had reached the point that I was checking on her all day long, putting my hand on her belly or squatting down to see if her chest was moving.  I was so afraid of when it would happen, what it would be like.  It wasn't like she had any quality of life at all in the past few weeks.  She had stopped coming and sitting with me when I drank my coffee in the morning.  Even her meow sounded different.  She was isolating herself in my closet a lot, and I knew all these things were signs.  All of that combined with some other things going on just let me know it was time.

The kids have taken it well.  Madalyn rode with me to the vet.  She held Millie in the car for me, and she didn't even cry.  She is so much like you, and I guess like me, too.  She held it all together for me because she knew her Mama was emotional.  I told her she was so brave and that I was proud of her.  If she hadn't been with me, I would gone back with Millie for the process, but Madalyn didn't seem like she wanted to see it.  I just felt kinda bad letting a stranger take her off like that.  That was the hardest part; I do wish I had done that for her, but I know that she's okay.

So the house was quiet this morning.  And I still think I can hear her little claws clicking across the kitchen floor the way they did.  I do miss her, but we won't be getting another cat.  I can't say I will ever have one in my house again.  David is allergic, after all.  And now we know we will have to get another dog before Buddy gets too old.  We will all need therapy and medication when he leaves this world.  I can't even let my mind go there.

I miss you, Mama.  Decisions take more of a toll on me than they did when you were alive.  I miss talking things over with you.  I miss your reassurance.  I miss nearly everything about my Mama.

Give Millie a big hug for all of us.

Love always.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mama,

We had a crazy weekend, let me tell you.  It was one of those times in which I was so painfully aware that you are gone.  All I wanted to do was call you and talk to you about what was going on.  David fell off of a car... I know, I know, it sounds insane.  But I wasn't there to talk reason into the heads of any person involved, that sitting on a moving car is not a good idea at all no matter where we are or what we're doing.  You know, as a mother who has always, always, always stressed to sit down in chairs and be still so you don't fall, to wear your seat belt, to brush your teeth so you don't get cavities, to do all those little things we can to protect ourselves... well, being one of those moms, I never believed David would sit on a moving vehicle.  But he did.  And he has a staple in his head and a back of road rash to prove it, along with a story he will never forget.

I kept my calm, honestly.  I talked David down out of his frenzy a few times.  He was terrified he may have to have stitches (which I knew he needed the minute I looked at it) and that they would use a needle.  He was irrational about it all.  For goodness sake, HE HAD JUST FALLEN OFF A CAR, but there he was freaking out about the possibility of a needle.  Go figure.  So I was able to keep myself all together, staying tough for him, not shedding a tear.  Even when the doctor at the ER said she wanted to do an x-ray of his head to check for a fracture, I kept my cool.  Calm on the outside, hurricane force insanity on the inside.

But I learned that from you.  I really did.  You were always so calm as my mother, and I really don't remember you losing your marbles while I was at home.  And so I played tough, got-it-all-together mom, and then I got home and went into my bathroom and wept.  I felt like my chest was about to split open.  All the what-ifs and possibilities of how things could have been so much worse ran through my head without any control.  And I began to think of what my life would look like with more grief piled on top of what I already carry for you.  And it was too much to even think about.

I'm still fighting those visions of how things could have been worse, but I keep reminding myself that he's okay.  He is okay.  And I guess I am realizing that with every single day that goes by, I lose a little bit of control over him.  That one day, sooner than I would like, I will watch him pull out of the driveway and will have nothing else to do but pray for God to keep him safe.  Being a parent feels so helpless at times.  It's scary.  I want to wrap them in big fat bubbly wrap and pack them away.  But I guess that wouldn't be enjoyable for anyone.  Then again, the fretfulness is not much fun for me.

We had a good talk with David, and I think he has learned a valuable lesson, one in which there really aren't any words to describe, one about doing what I've always told him to do.  Slow it down and listen to that voice inside of you that tries to guide you with reason no matter what is going on around you.  Think, think, think.  Your mama is not trying to make your life boring when she says, "BE CAREFUL!"  She knows a thing or two about this world and what can happen.  And I looked him in the eye and told him, "We've already lost our Gammie to something we couldn't prevent; I can't handle losing you to something stupid that could easily be prevented."  And I had that twisted bipolar desire to both strangle and beat him and scoop him up in a bear hug all at the same time.  I think this is an emotion purely unique to motherhood.

Oh, Mama.  I've had an interesting opportunity arise to be directly involved with a local charity organization.  I'm set to have dinner and meet the other folks involved next week, and I'm really excited about it.  I feel like I've been so wrapped up in my own grief lately that I forget there are so many others out there still fighting the fight, so desperately in need of help and encouragement.  It's so easy to focus inward and turn your back on the rest of the world, especially when every single day hurts so much.  I have tried to keep patient with myself, to accept me for who I am and where I am, but I can't help but think there's more for me to do.  There's always more I can do.  To have the opportunity to love on people and share with those who need it most, well, I can't think of a better way to honor God and honor your memory.  So I am hopeful about this opportunity.  Really hopeful.

I may as well change my blog all together.  I am thinking of changing the title and layout since all I ever do anymore is write to you.  I just don't have much desire to write anything else.  I used to have grandiose ideas of writing something big and life changing.  Not so much anymore.  I've got a ton of characters in my head, and maybe they will come together one day, but for now I am content to write my little letters to you.  Writing to you seems a little less crazy than talking into the air at you, don't you think?

I wonder what you see of this place.  I wonder if you get to see the ones you love through the very eyes of Jesus, complete in His grace.  I hope so.  I hope you can't see how truly an emotional mess I am these days.  It's hard to believe I'm still a wreck over your death some two and half years later.  Hard to believe you're not here.  Still so hard to believe it all.  But I am making it.  I may be forever changed and scarred, but I am making it.

Love always.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mama,

Gosh, the summer is just ticking away.  Crazy how fast they go by now.  I can remember you telling me when I was young not to wish my life away, that time moves faster the older you get.  I thought you were insane then, but now I understand.  Now I see it.

The kids have really reached the age that it's not hard having them around all the time, not like it used to be anyway.  They can make their own sandwiches, fix their own drinks, and basically take care of themselves.  Of course, they never seem to want to do those things when it's convenient for me, but that's normal.  Madalyn gets a thrill out of being as difficult as possible (nothing new there!), and David... well, he will always be my little boy.  I find myself wanting to take care of him.  Funny how different the two of them are.  Night and day.

Madalyn is much easier to deal with, though, now that she's a little older.  I can talk her down out of her frenzy most of the time now with logic.  But she wants everything.  Everything.  That's hard on me, because I don't want to raise a selfish or materialistic person.  So I am working on making her wait, on flat out telling her no about certain things (even though it causes much grief between the two of us), and letting her work for things.  Funny, though, about a month ago, when she was doing chores to earn something, she came to me with a bag of spare change I had downstairs.  She had counted it all, and written the tally on the outside of the bag in Sharpie.  She asked me who it belonged to, and I told her it was mine.  But I had to let her have it.  There's no telling how long it took her to count it all, and I admire her creative thinking.  I really do.  There's so much I admire about her spirit, so many strengths I didn't have at her age, and so, I let her be most times.  I just let her be who she is with a gentle guidance  in her ear as much as possible.

My David is growing up so quickly.  You wouldn't believe how tall he is now, Mama.  Five feet even. Only a few inches shorter than me!  Oh how I wish I could see him stand beside you and show you how much he's grown.  He's a good kid, too.  Impartial to cliques and has a generally kind heart.  Oh, of course, he's a complete poo poo head to me sometimes, but I think he's got his head on straight.  He's playing in a summer golf tour and really enjoying himself.  His natural talent amazes me.  If he could only be a tad bit more disciplined!  That's what he lacks, the drive to put it all together (yikes... sounds a lot like me, huh?).  Perhaps that will come with a little maturity.  But we have learned that nothing can be forced on him.  It's best to gently guide him as well, provide the opportunity to do whatever it is he wants to do, but we don't push him to practice every day and don't put a lot of pressure on him.  I hope we are doing this whole parenting thing at least mostly okay.  It's hard, but you already know that.

One of my trees died in the yard.  Just boom, dead.  And I would have loved to call you and talk to you about it.  It was my favorite tree!  The one by the driveway that had the tiny long leaves.  Such a pretty tree, and now it's covered in crispy brown leaves.  We've already had a knock on the door, someone wanting to cut it down.  Such an expense!  I'm hoping, since it's not very large, that we can have a friend help (he's started working for a company that has a tree service, so maybe at least we could get a better price).  My knockout rose bush is struggling, and so is one of my hydrangeas.  Of course, I don't have a clue what to do, and you probably wouldn't either, but dang it, I would like to talk to you about it.  Oh well.

Just carrying on, Mama.  Just carrying on.

Love and miss you more and more every single day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mama,

Dad is in the cleaning out mood.  He's been going through drawers and closets that haven't been touched since you died.  And so, yesterday, I drove down to look through some stuff he didn't really know what to do with and to see if there was anything that I wanted to keep.

The contents of the extra bedroom closet pretty much consisted of stuff you had saved from your parents' house when it was sold.  There were little bird figurines and old sheets and the things they saved from their big 50th anniversary party.  I found a box full of cards and letters, so I brought that home and sat down in the floor to sort through it all.  There were a few letters that grandmother had written to grandaddy when he was away in the Navy in 1945, and that was cool to read.  And then I found this bundle of stuff held together with a rubber band.  So I took the band off and found a small white envelope full of those little cards that come with flower arrangements.  Immediately I knew what it was.

She saved it all.  She saved every single floral card from every plant and arrangement from Aunt Kitty's funeral in 1978.  And there was more... every single card that had been mailed to her, the list of addresses she had used to send out thank you notes with each name checked off in precise order.  She saved it all.

It doesn't really get better, does it, Mama?  The missing of someone lost.  The holding on of certain things, the letting go of others.  Finding that bundle made me realize that it will really never feel any better.  I have the same collection, you see, of every single card from every plant and arrangement that was sent to your funeral and every single card that was mailed to me.  In place of the rubber band, I selected the more modern form of holding things together, the Ziploc bag.  They are neatly tucked away, and I doubt I will ever be able to part with them.  And, so, one day in the very distant future (I hope) Madalyn will probably find them in the cleaning out of my things, and she will, in that moment, realize what I have come to know.  That the missing of people we love doesn't go away.

I opened every single card and looked at the signatures.  There were a couple of names I recognized, but most were completely foreign to me.  But I could imagine my grandmother receiving each card, opening the envelope, reading the words on paper that really don't make the grief any better, but feeling the support in knowing that someone cared.  And I imagine a lot of lonely tears, quiet and heavy.  And I know all the years that she couldn't even talk about her daughter that died so suddenly, tragically.  I hope I am grieving better than she knew how to do so long ago, keeping your memory alive while showing that it hurts so deeply.  My children need to know it's okay to keep you in the present and still miss you so much.

On a lighter note, Mama, I sure do wish you and grandmother both hadn't saved every single sheet set you ever owned.  I understand the keeping of an extra old sheet here or there, but have mercy.  Please know that the Olivia and Patricia desire to save every single thing that may, may, may be of value some day has been passed on to my Madalyn.  The pack-rat gene has been preserved for future generations.  I spent four hours in her room on Saturday holding things up and saying, "Keep or give away?"  We filled a trash bag full of toys and things to donate, praise the Lord.  And we cleaned out and we rearranged and made way for the media cabinet that used to be in your bedroom.  When we were down a few weeks ago, dad mentioned to me that he wanted to get rid of the cabinet, and Madalyn's ears perked right up.  She wants anything that came from Gammie.  Even when I mentioned painting it white or black to better match her room, she said she wanted to keep it "just like Gammie had it."  What do you say to that?

So here we are, right in the midst of summer, living it all out.  The 4th is Friday.  Gosh, how I would love to here my sweet grandmother's voice saying, "Let's barbecue some chicken."  And her homemade sauce and sweet tea and pound cake.  I hope there is pound cake in heaven.

I love you.  Always.



Friday, June 20, 2014

Mama,

It's been a while.  I haven't been able to complete a letter to you or a post on my blog in quite sometime.  Some kind of grief induced ADD, I think.  I have a lot of grief induced issues, though, that I really wish I could rid myself of.  But I will save that for another time.

It's not just the grief.  I will sit down to pick up my laptop only to find that it has been confiscated by Madalyn to watch videos of girls playing with American Girl dolls or to browse the website looking at over priced doll clothes and accessories.  And then, when I finally get the laptop back in my possession, it's almost always dead.  So if I had the notion to sit down and write, it is gone after all the trouble it takes to find the laptop.  I have now officially reached the point in motherhood where I understand that it is much easier to parent babies and toddlers than older children.  They are more easily contained and controlled.

We took a vacation a few weeks ago.  A family cruise stopping in Key West, Nassau, and Freeport.  It was fun, but we spent more money than I dreamed we would, and I got off the boat feeling completely sick to my stomach of what we could have done with the cash besides a cruise.  I stood on the beach in Freeport watching a woman peddle handmade necklaces and bracelets for a few bucks a piece while I paid $4 for a bottle of water.  Something about that doesn't sit right with me, and maybe not many people would understand that, but you would.  It feels like an injustice.  I talked with another man on the Freeport beach as he poured a cold beer into a plastic cup, the table in front of him covered in beautiful wood carvings of various shapes and sizes that his own hands had made.  As we talked, he smiled to reveal he had no front top teeth.  I asked him how he learned his craft, and he told me his grandfather beat it into him, literally beating him when he did something wrong.  He said it in jest, but I knew there was more than a grain of truth behind it.  And so I told him he was amazing and how his talent was obviously a gift from God.  He smiled the most genuine smile I had seen in a long time like he felt understood, and it was a beautiful moment.  I haven't told anyone else that story, but you would have loved to hear it.

And one night on the ship, I think maybe the night we got back from Freeport, I had gotten ice cream with Madalyn (her favorite part of the cruise, by the way... the free ice cream), and we were waiting on Scott and a couple of others to come down on the stools in between the pool and the bar.  And there was this group of couples, no kids with them at all, and one of the men was sporting his Carnival plush white robe and was obviously in charge of entertaining his friends for the night.  So I started talking to a couple of the ladies, and I asked them how it came to be that they all were able to vacation without their kids.  One woman pointed to her friend, hair very short, and said she had just finished treatment and this was their celebration.  And then I talked about you, and there were tears and hugs to go around.  I sat there on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean crying with women I will never see again.  It was such an amazing moment.  Painful, but lovely.

I went to the mailbox yesterday, and there it was.  Dad had mailed a birthday card to David who will be thirteen tomorrow.  Thirteen.  And I stood in the driveway and cried because you won't be a part of him turning thirteen.  Nor will you be a part of any conversations in the next several years about teenagery things I will have a bazillion questions and concerns about.  That really sucks, you know.  It does.

I feel like I'm treading water right now, Mama.  Like my soul is stuck out there on the ocean with no cruise ship.  I am living and doing and cooking and cleaning, but that is about it.  I'm trying to read more as it tends to preoccupy my mind.  I am just still stuck in this weird place, and the strangest of things set my heart off.

A young woman I know has been sent home with hospice care.  Just sent home to wait to die.  It's such a crazy thing thinking back on our week of waiting, what a blur it all was, how painful it felt and still feels.  And that's just it.  Every single day, we live out our course of life not knowing how today will affect our tomorrows.  Not realizing how today may actually be a day that we think about for the rest of our lives.  That family and her friends who are caring for her have no idea that in a few years they will look back over quiet painful moments and cry about them still.  They have no idea how their life is about to change.  No clue.

But I do.  I'm writing my dead mother a letter, for goodness sake.  This grief thing... it sucks.

I wish I could feel you more around me lately, but I find myself shutting off my senses trying not to feel anything at all.  But I still see you in the birds.  You have left the birds for me, and there's a lovely pair of Cardinals living in the neighbors yard.  They perch on our fence quite regularly, and I love to watch their brilliant red flash back and forth across the yard.

I love you, Mama.  I always will.