Saturday, November 12, 2016

Mama,

It's been a while since I've written.  A long while.  I am staying pretty busy with school and wife-ing and momming these days.  I'm tired.  I had forgotten how much energy it takes to learn.  Or maybe it's that when you're 20 and learning you've got larger amounts expendable energy so you don't miss any.  But at this age, wow I can feel my brain cells wiggling with glee and expanding in their knowledge, and it makes me freaking exhausted.  Especially Spanish... it drains the energy tank.

I'm tired yet exhilarated at the same time.  Everything is waking up inside of me.  I honestly didn't realize how much of me had been asleep.  When I walked away from school in 2000, I turned off a large part of my brain.  Stepping back into the classroom was the most frightening thing I've ever done in my life.  But now that my first semester back is almost over, I've never been more sure that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be.  This is the path for me.  Call it God's plan, my calling... whatever term you want to use, but I was made to be a social worker.  I still have no idea what kind I will be, who I will work with, exactly what my job will entail, but I know I am in the right place.

I look back and think about college before.  I didn't know what I wanted to do or which direction I was going.  I was just there.  I couldn't focus on much of anything.  I spent most of my time trying to hold a disastrous relationship together along with the pieces of my own broken soul.  But now that I've made it through all of that, made it through losing you, made it through over four years of grief, I feel like a different person.  Well, to be honest, I feel like I am more me than I ever was before.  Funny how that works.

I still miss you terribly.  I still romanticize what life would look like if you were alive.  I still hurt deeply.  Everything is so much different than I thought it would be.  I find myself not only grieving you but also the family and life I thought would come later in my life.  My kids don't have the family life I had growing up, and they aren't building relationships with their grandparents like I was able to do.  And there's nothing I can do about it.  You are gone, and the others just aren't interested.  So here we are, just the four of us, our own little unit unto ourselves.  Of course, my kids don't know any different, but I do.  And it hurts.  But we will make the best of it.

My birthday was last week, and I really had a great day and felt so loved.  But in the midst of the fun, I still think of you.  What we would have done.  I am sure we would have gone to Belk, and you would have bought me something.  And then we'd have grabbed lunch somewhere, most likely Panera Bread or Olive Garden.  You had that special way you said birthday with your cute little voice you reserved for use just with the three of us kids no matter how old we got.  We would have enjoyed the day.  And thinking about it now makes me equally happy and sad.  I'm so happy to have the memories of days like that with you because now I realize how precious our relationship was, how lucky I was to have it.  And I am sad because those days are frozen as memories.  I wonder what your favorite place to eat lunch would be now.  Would we have found a different one, or would things remain the same?  What would you look like at 70?  What little things would change and what would remain comfortably similar?  These are questions we will never answer, so I have to force myself to stop thinking about it.  To enjoy my memories for what they are... little snapshots of you, of your amazing love for me and your whole family.

Miss you much, Mama.  Love you always.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mama,

It hit fast and hard this morning walking through Target.  I was there to get a gift for a baby shower... how much fun is that?  I haven't been to a baby shower in so long that I just wanted to peruse the baby aisles and soak it all in, all the things that had changed and the ones that had stayed the same.  Of course I needed a bag and a card to complete the gift, so you know where that led me.  The card section.

And there they were, a college aged young woman, a middle aged man, and a 30 something mother with a young girl with her.  The little girl was the only one who said a word aloud of the four bellied up to the card bar.  "Look at this one.... read this one, mama.... what do you think of this one?"  She had to be around five, so you can imagine her little sweet voice (most likely sweet to me who doesn't have a five year old anymore, but no doubt slightly aggravating to the mama).  The man looked like any other man searching for a card, somewhat distracted but intent on completing his mission.  The college aged young woman was thoughtful, holding a possibility in her hand while picking up other options and reading them to find out if they were worthy.  She reminded me of myself.  I assume she's pretty close to her mother (perhaps mother figure... whoever she was buying a card for) by the way she had closed her mind off to the rest of the world around her.

I wanted to tell them.  Tell them that there will be a day, hopefully far away, when walking past this common scene would cause pain to well up inside them.  I had no idea just five years ago it would be my last time to buy you a card.  But I am sure someone passed me as I looked and had a similar thought as I did this morning.  And part of me doesn't want to let people in on how much pain and grief comes with losing your mama, especially if you're as close as you and I were.  Sometimes it's best to be blindsided by reality, to not know what's about to hit you, to live in the dark where loss is not even the most remote of possibilities.  We're silly like that, we humans.  We walk around pretending that nothing will ever change.  Until it does.  And then we preach about living in the moment and making the most of each day.  And other silly humans look at us and think, "That won't happen to me."  And the cycle continues.

This is my fourth Mother's Day without you.  Scott asked me the other night what I'd like to do on Sunday, and I looked at him and battled within my mind whether to speak the truth aloud or not.  I decided on the honesty and let him know I wanted to plant my chubby self in one of the pool chairs, drink a lot, and wait on Monday to come.  Isn't that awful?  You always taught me not to wish my life away, and I tell my kids the same thing.  But there are days, so heavy and blue, that I can't help but wish them to be over.

This is a tough time of year.  We just had the anniversary of your death.  Now Mother's Day.  I feel terrible for my brothers who have to see all the flowers and cards and commercials and know they can't get you anything.  At least I am actually a mother myself, so there is a little redeeming value in the day for me. But I still wish it wasn't even a thing.  And that makes me feel bad for thinking it, but it's just the truth.

The past couple of weeks, I've thought about you even more than normal.  We've had a bird's nest under our deck.  The mama bird built it right on top of our outdoor speaker, which thankfully we don't use much this year or the poor baby birds may grow up hearing impaired.  Anyway... I watched her sit atop her eggs for a couple of weeks.  I've been reading this book that happens to be forever long, so I got in the pattern of coming out to sit and read in the late afternoon.  I could tell when they had hatched, of course, because poor mama bird couldn't even perch still for longer than five seconds.  She was in and out, in and out.  A few days in, I could finally see the tiny beaks peeking up and hear the screeching sounds they made.  They seemed to literally double in size almost every day.  Maybe that's a stretch, but I could tell from day to day that they were growing quite rapidly.  I listened one afternoon to the biggest one learn to chirp, and by the next day, the others had learned, too.  I watched mama swoop around showing them how the whole flying thing worked.  And I honestly prayed I could see them fly, as stupid of a prayer request that is and though I never pray for silly things like that.  I felt like they were my little baby birds, and I just wanted to have the experience of seeing it all, from start to finish.  And so I was lucky enough to see it on Wednesday afternoon.  I had come out to read a little earlier than normal, but once it happened, I knew why.

It happened so fast.  The one I thought was the biggest, definitely the leader of the nest, the one who learned to chirp first, started fluttering his wings and moved out of the clump of birdies and perched by himself.  I muted the TV to take a video, and the next thing I knew, he flew (as clumsily as it looked, it was flying) and bumped into the the gutter downspout.  I don't think he ever hit the ground, but he started flailing in midair this way and that way, and I was so afraid he'd fall.  But he pulled it together and made it to the top of our umbrella on the pool deck.  The other three just took off together seemingly effortlessly landing on the top of the fence.  I have no idea if that was the very first time they flew, but they haven't been back to to nest since.  Of course, I cried.  And every afternoon, watching them just made me want to talk to you.  Oh you would have enjoyed watching those birds even more than I did.

The whole process reminded me so much of the period of time around your death.  It reminded me of the greatest blessing that has come from your loss.  It was during those hardest times that I learned God would give me everything I need for every single day, no matter what I faced.  He provided strength in some of the most difficult moments, peace in the darkest of hours, comfort that I never knew was possible this side of heaven.  He gave me every little thing I needed to get through every day while you were sick, while you were dying, and after you were gone.  And He continues to shower me with His Grace four years later.  It's something that some people never figure out, especially not before they hit the age of 40.  But I have that.  I have that confidence, and no one can take it from me.  And if that's the only thing I gained from such a terrible loss, I can live with that.  I would rather live with you beside me, but since that's not possible, I will take the gifts that God has given me and relish in them.

I miss you dearly but in different ways here lately than I did even a year ago.  I'd like to talk to you about raising these kids in this crazy world.  I'd like to just laugh with you and simply be your daughter.  But these letters will have to do for now.

Happy Mother's Day in heaven.  I hope you're surrounded by beautiful flowers and the laughter of your own mama and sister.  I love you dearly.  I always will.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mama,

Tomorrow marks four years without you.

Four years.
1,461 days.
35,064 hours.
2,103,840 minutes.

I wonder, had you not died, how many phone calls, shopping trips, hugs, kisses on the cheek, moments just sitting on the couch, lunches at places we like to go (not the kids or the men in lives), and deep belly laughs there would have been jammed into that clump of time.  We will never know.  If they would have been as often as fond memories, moments of gut stabbing grief, and silent tears, they would have been plentiful.

I think ten years ago, if someone had told me that I would soon learn to live without you, without having your voice to pick me up and cheer me on comfort me, I wouldn't have believed I could do it.  There are still moments that stun me and leave me with the gnawing feeling that I need you.  I had one just this past Sunday evening, random and unexpected, and all I could think was that I just needed a hug from my mama.  I didn't want it (because I want one every single day), but rather I felt that I needed it in that moment.  I felt empty in the pit of my stomach, cold from my head to my toes.  Thankfully those moments don't come often anymore.  But when they do, they are just as strong as the moment I received the call that you had taken your last breath.  The emptiness will follow me through life, and that I have finally accepted.  When it comes, I just acknowledge it, feel it, cry if I need to, and I try to move through it to the other side.  I'm getting better at that.

I look back at pictures of the kids from four years ago and realize how little they were when we lost you.  They don't have a clue how much they're missing out on without you in their life.  I do because I had two wonderful grandmothers growing up.  In fact, if I could combine the two of them into one woman, they would make the perfect grandmother.  One was sassy and adventurous, while the other was more nurturing and domestic.  My kids will never know that.  They won't have a grandmother to call when they're 20 years old and have an issue in their life they would rather not discuss with me.  They won't have a grandmother to call to ask how to make cornbread or which flour to use in the pound cake recipe they have.  They just don't have that.  I have to try to be all of it, and that's impossible.  Because there's just something about a grandmother that's so different from a Mama.  It's a different love.  It's a different feeling of comfort that I simply can't replicate.  So I don't just mourn my Mama but the Gammie that's gone as well.

The past few weeks have been a little crazy.  We've had our first family crisis since your death.  Todd was very sick.  Very, very sick.  In the hospital for nearly two weeks and had to have lung surgery.  Robotic surgery, if you can believe that.  Just saying it sounds like science fiction.  It completely sucked being so far away from him that I couldn't just run over for the day to sit with him a little and get back in time for my duties as a golf mom.  My heart ached as though he were one of my own children instead of my brother.  I feel the need to be the mama to all now, even cousins and friends.  I don't want anyone to suffer or hurt, but I guess that's completely unrealistic!  Anyway, Todd is home now and healing well.  And you'll be so excited to know that he has quit smoking!  So this year, two of your dreams for your children have come true... I am going back to school, and Todd has quit smoking.  Oh if you were here to relish in both of those things.  Well, I can just see you in my mind beaming with pride.

And daddy, well, he's moving forward.  It's taken a while, and it hasn't at all been a smooth process, but he's starting a life of his own.  He's doing just as you wished for him.  Do you remember the conversation we had in the car that day so very long ago? I recall you saying, "When I'm gone, he will need to remarry.  I don't want him to sit in that house all by himself.  Promise me you won't let him."  I remember telling you I didn't want to talk about it, but you said it was something we needed to discuss.  So I promised you, mainly just to shut down the conversation and move on to a lighter subject.  At times, it's been challenging to hold onto my promise.  He's a hermit by nature, and pushing someone to leave their comfort zone is not an easy task.  I fully believe you've been in cahoots with the Holy Spirit Himself setting things up along the way, laying out a path before him that he could not deny as divine.  He and his bride-to-be close on a home tomorrow, a place where he can begin anew.  Fresh start.  She couldn't be a more perfect match for your John Hubert.  She's loving and warm, nurturing down to her bones.  She loves him.  She thinks his quirkiness is cute and wants to share life with him.  I don't know her well yet, but I know without a doubt that she will take care of my daddy, and I am honestly thankful for that gift.  It's taken me a little while to process it all, to be comfortable with this different life we are all starting, but I accept it now and see the goodness in it all.  Goodness.

All things work for the good for those that love the Lord.  I've embraced that promise for so long now, not knowing what good would come from such loss.  But there have been lots of good things.  I have a stronger relationship with and understanding of my father.  I parent differently.  I treat people around me more empathetically.  I have grown so very close to my baby cousin, Katie.  I am stronger.  But greater than any of these, my faith in my God is bigger than I dreamed possible at my age.  I know, without a doubt, that He will give me every single thing I need to get me through each day.  He always has.  I've also learned that the list of things I need is way shorter than I thought.

Four years, Mama.  Still not a day goes by that I don't wish you were still alive.  But if I could bring you back, I honestly wouldn't want to do that to you.  You are where you should be.  I don't want you back here in this crazy place.  I hold on to my belief that we are exactly where we're meant to be, that things are always as they should be.  And I have learned to say, in the words of your favorite hymn, it is well with my soul.

I will love you forever and miss you always.  So blessed to be your daughter.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Mama,

Today is Good Friday.  The day of the crucifixion.  The beginning of the Easter story.  I am overwhelmingly thankful for those events that occurred so very long ago.  Because of the death and resurrection of Christ, you are alive with Him in heaven.  But there's this part of me that's so resentful of this weekend since you're gone.  Not of the real Easter story, the saving truth of it all, but rather of the modern version.  The church service, the egg hunts, the family lunches and matching families in pastels with smiling faces.  None of that exists in my life.

I've only been to church maybe three times since your death.  It's beyond difficult.  I can't even explain it.  It's past my normal not-so-fond-of-organized-religion thing and more toward a physically painful experience.  I grew up sitting next to you in church.  In fact, I probably sat beside you in 95% of the church services I've attended in my entire life.  I listened to you sing.  I watched you fill out your sermon notes in that distinctive penmanship that is gone forever.  And, now, when I go, I want to weep the moment I walk in the door.  I don't know if that will ever pass.  I don't know if something that deeply woven into your spirit can ever fade away.  Perhaps with time it eases, but like grief, I doubt it ever goes away.

And the Easter Sunday thing, the lovely pictures of lovely families and lovely experiences... well, there's none of that here.  There's no family gathering.  There's no pulling together on either side of our families.  If you were alive, you would pull us together.  But you're gone.  I've tried having Easter Sunday here, but it just doesn't feel right.  I feel like I am only doing it to have something to do, to fill the void.  So I've decided not to fool with it.

I'm in this transition phase, Mama.  I spent some of the past four years trying to recreate what you would do, and I found that it doesn't fill the void.  Doing something totally different doesn't do the trick either.  So where I am now is trying to accept that you're gone, that things will never be the same nor will they ever be the way I would like them to be.  I didn't realize how many expectations I had for what my family life would look like until you were gone.  I'm constantly comparing what my holidays look like compared to the holidays of my childhood, and I am disappointed every single time.  I'm trying so hard to let go of those ideals, but it's proving to be difficult.  I want my kids to have what I had, grandparents that were involved in everything, holiday dinners, back to school shopping, and just having those extra hands to love on them.  But it's like we're starting from scratch here... a brand new family with no extensions on either side.  We are on our own.

This acceptance part feels lonely and sad, but I feel stronger than I have in a long time.  I applied to the University of Montevallo and was accepted for the fall semester.  I haven't been this excited about anything so long!  I still have no idea how it will all work out, how the financing aspect will play out, and how my brain will open back up wide enough to handle all the information that I will need to absorb.  And it's been so long since I've written a paper or cited works or researched anything.  I picture myself sitting in some classroom surrounded by a bunch of young people with their laptops sipping lattes and staring at me as I jot notes with a #2 pencil in legal pad.  So when I start getting nervous about all the logistics, I just stop myself and think about the fact that I am finally going back to school!  That I want to be there!  That I will be learning again and finding a place for me.  It's all for me.  I haven't done anything for myself like this ever.  The first time I went to college, I think it was more about making you happy than it was about me.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  But now... now I am convinced there's a place for me out there.  That I can use my brain and my natural gifts to help other people.  And that is exciting to me.

When I opened the acceptance letter, you were the first person that came to my mind.  You always wanted me to finish.  You always encouraged me.  You believed in me more than I believed in myself. But now I am learning to step into the fear of this whole thing, the fear of sitting in that classroom and not understanding what's going on, the fear of feeling lost among a sea of kids young enough to come from my womb, the fear of falling short.  If I don't step into it, I will never succeed.  If I don't start believing in myself the way you did, then I won't ever find out what lies ahead for me.

I've missed you being that person who could ground me, talk my fears and insecurities down.  Living without that has been the biggest hurdle.  I kept looking to other people to replace what you were to me.  But what I'm finally figuring out is that no one can and no one ever will.  I have to find it within myself.  And it's there because you built it within me.  Your words are forever in my mind echoing your faith and belief in me.  Instead of expecting others to be you for me, I have to stand on my own feet and be the woman you raised me to be.

I'm so thankful that I had you as a mom.  Sure do wish I had you longer, but I will have to be grateful for what I did have.

I miss you, Mama.  And I will forever.

I love you.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mama,

Madalyn's birthday has come and gone.  She is now eleven.  I've been thinking a lot lately about how little she was when you died.  Seven.  First grade.  Little, little.  I remember that around that age she had a fear well up inside of her that hadn't been there before.  Afraid to be upstairs by herself.  Afraid to leave the house without her beloved blanket and piggy.  Afraid of every single slightly scary Halloween costume.  Truly afraid.  I liken it to the fact that at the tiny age of seven she learned that not every story has a happy ending.  People die.  Bad stuff happens.  She has slowly moved past that and barely even crawls in bed with us during a bad storm anymore.  She's growing up so quickly.

This year, for her birthday, she wanted to upgrade from a twin to a full sized bed.  Now that she doesn't have nearly as many toys in her room, I finally agreed.  She's been wanting me to repaint her hot pink walls, but I just painted them three years ago, and I have absolutely no desire to paint those high walls ever again.  And right now I am not paying someone to do it for me because there are so many other things that need to be done in this house than changing the color of Madalyn's walls.  Then the thought occurred that I could paint her shorter walls a different color and leave the tall ones the same, and so we did.  I did one wall this beautiful grey and the wall around her closet became a chalk board wall.  I would have given all my earthly possessions to have a chalk board wall when I was little!!!  It's so neat!  I could still, even at my age, stay in there for hours doodling and erasing.  So cool.

She picked out a cute (more mature) quilt set for her bed and we found cute sheets.  We changed the whole look of the room with minimal effort and not much money.  Next step is painting your old TV cabinet.  I wanted to paint it when she first got it, but she wouldn't hear it.  Now she's okay with it, so I will paint it the same grey as her wall and either brush over it lightly with white or antique with some glaze I already have.  Just have to decide which way to go with that.  I'm leaning toward the antiquing glaze.

I am working on a lot of little things in the house.  All the trim needs to be painted.  I am planning on painting the ugly oak banister.  The kitchen needs painting again.  So many things need to be done.  I'd love to have all this nasty carpet ripped up, but that will be a major project that will need major money to be done.  So it will have to wait.  One thing at a time.  At least paint is immediately gratifying.

The other day I felt this urge to call you.  I think I even literally thought for a second, "I need to call mom."  I hadn't thought that in so long.  I feel a little lost right now, like I'm just wandering and wandering with no place to sit and rest.  There's no soft place right now.  No place that doesn't require work and effort.  I would just like to lie down and sleep for a while, but that's not an option for me.

My mind keeps going back to the days after your brain surgery.  You sort of hit the wall, had a little breakdown, which was incredibly unusual for you.  In the midst of your tears, you told me that you missed your mama.  I can hear your voice in my head right now, can recall every single word.  You were going through perhaps the most difficult process of your entire life, and you just wanted your mama, even at your age of 64.  I will never forget that moment as long as I live.  And I can completely relate.

I just want my mama.  The place where anything can be said and not judged at all.  The place I could go to simply unload and let things go, release my emotions and fears without any worry of judgement or commentary.  The person who looked at me as their child no matter how old I had become.  That safe place where the comfort and love never changed even though everything else morphed around it.  I miss that.  I had that with you, and now it's gone.

Any good Southern Christian would say, "Well turn to God..."  And that's fine and good.  I can pray and pray and pray and read devotionals and the Scriptures, but I have certainly discovered in the last almost four years that nothing replaces a conversation with my mama.  Nothing.  And I keep looking for something that can maybe come close, but no such luck.  Sometimes I can float on through life with minimal need, but other times I find myself longing for you.  The latter is where I am now.

I've got this memory that keeps popping up for me, though, and it's hysterical.  And maybe it's been forefront in my mind because I need a funny memory every now and again.  Remember when we'd go shopping with Grandma Norris and she'd wander off in the store?  We would search high and low to find her, and usually she'd be at the furtherest point in the store from where we originally started perusing a clearance rack of clothes.  You and I would get so flustered with her for not telling us where she was going.  During many a Saturday trip to the mall we spent more time looking for her than we did actually looking at whatever it was we went to the mall to look for.  Man I miss those days.  I'd love to just have one more Saturday with the both of y'all.  But I know if I had one more, it still wouldn't be enough.  It would never be enough.

I'm typically the big girl.  I can usually keep my wits about me, pull my girl pants up and move on.  I almost always seem like I've got myself together and in full control.  But sometimes, mama, I'd just like someone to look at me and realize that it's not always true, that deep inside there's this broken place that will never mend.  That person was you for 35 years, and now you're gone.  I am doing the best I can without you, I really am.  I'm being the best wife and mom I can possibly be.  But I just feel like I need a little break right now.  Just a moment to gather myself.

Love always,
Your Daughter

Friday, January 8, 2016

Mama,

I just took my old artificial tree down to the curb for the trash truck to carry it away.  You remember the one you bought for me at Wacamaw?  Oh, we used to love that store... we'd walk all over that place just looking at the most insignificant things.  Plates, cups, candles, whatever caught our eye.  We never bought much, but that didn't matter.  Anyway, the tree... you bought it for me the Christmas I was pregnant with David.  And I used it until a couple years ago when it started to unravel in places and little pieces of the branches kept falling off.  So I finally pulled it down this year when putting all my other stuff away in the attic and hauled it down to the street.  Hate to let go of it, but it's not like you're hiding in that box waiting on the right time to pop out and walk back into my life.

That's where I am now.  Realizing I can't hold on to things just because you are connected to them.  That's hard, though.  Getting rid of items that came from you or that you purchased feels, in a way, like I am giving away bits and pieces of you.  But that's not true, and logically I know that.  I have to remind myself of the logical side of many things these days.  Emotionally, I feel a certain way, but I have to force myself to think things through with logic, hard facts.  And that's a difficult place to be, one in which I recognize my emotional pull or feeling but also embrace the logical side.  I am trying.

There's so much going on right now that I would love to talk to you about.  So much.  I find myself talking to myself in my head a lot these days.  I have to mull things over, to think about what you would say and how those words would make me feel.  I have to think about that.  I miss it so much, there are no words to describe it.  In a way, the issues I am dealing with are ironically forcing me to accept you're not here.  But the thing about being forced is that it's not your idea or desire.  Cause that's the truth; I don't really want to accept that you're gone.  I am still waiting on you to pop out of that fake Christmas tree box or a dark corner somewhere or out from behind the shelf where all your old Willow Trees are displayed in my home as say, "I'm back!"  Tell me it was all just a cruel joke.  That you were never really gone.  I just keep waiting.

Emotionally, it all makes sense.  I am holding on to you, your things, your voice in my mind, your laughter, to the very way you made me feel safe and secure and loved all at once without even trying.  I am holding on for dear life, hoping and wanting to pick up the phone one day and it be you, to walk inside the home where you used to live and find you lying on the couch with that blanket over your legs and a glass of water on the table beside you.  But logic is slapping me in the face these days.  Reality, ugly and unbending, is simply what it is.  And I am aware that it's this time in my life you prepared me for, the time in which you knew I would have to stand tall and move on, a time in which I would walk without the safety net of you.  All those times you said to me, "You already know what you need to do..." echo in my mind.  And now I understand.  I know what to do because you taught me what to do.

So funny... I can remember when David and Madalyn first started walking and playing outside and riding their bikes.  I was so scared they would fall, afraid of them getting hurt.  Telling them don't do this and don't do that.  When they're little, we're so afraid they will make a bad choice and hurt themselves.  And now I am seeing that what we're really afraid of as mothers is not that they will make a bad choice and be hurt but that they won't know how to make the right decision.  But that's one thing you taught me, how to make the right one, how to listen to the small voice inside of me directing me.  And I am so thankful for that.  So very thankful.

I have said it before, and I will say it again... I had more in 35 years from my mother than what most people have in an entire lifetime.

Love you always...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mama,

I just put a batch of forgotten cookies in the oven.  I remember the first time you made them.  I think we were on Robert Street in Zachary.  They are so good and light and crackly in your mouth.  This year, I've decided to make goodies and share with some people in the neighborhood.  I am trying to keep myself busy and my mind off the fact that this is yet another Christmas without you.

This year has been particularly more difficult than I was prepared for.  Funny how the grief thing is still full of surprises three and half years later.  You would think I'd be a professional by now, but nope.  Not at all.  I still choke back the tears in the line at Walmart from time to time.

We had our family get together this past Saturday.  I thought it would be neat to do breakfast for dinner.  You know how hard it is to please the finicky pallets in our family, so I thought that would be something everyone would enjoy.  I planned on doing pancakes but forgot the dang mix.  I made sausage pie but burnt the pie shell.  I did bacon which luckily is hard to do wrong.  And I made a new recipe of a smoked sausage hash brown casserole which was good but tasted like it was missing something.  I was so aggravated by the time all the food was done (on the inside, of course... can't let anyone see me sweat) that I thought I'd cry.  But all the food got eaten and there were no complaints, so I guess I was being a little hard on myself.

It was strange being there in your kitchen cooking by myself.  I didn't know where anything was, and I had to wash everything I used since it was covered in dust.  But I did it.  I confiscated your stand mixer earlier this month so I could use it for the divinity.  Wow what a difference it makes!!!  Now I know why you wanted one so badly!

The house looks so different without your tree and little Christmas stuff everywhere.  Last year, dad tried to do a little decorating, but this year the house definitely looks like a single man lives there.  Which is fine.  I am glad he's changed things around and made it his own, but sometimes I think it would be easier if he was in a different house, not the one where you lived.  It's just even more obvious that you're gone now and that you're not coming back.  I guess I could push that thought to the back of my mind for so long while things looked so much the same.  But now, it's real.  It's just so freaking real.

I used to think that the anger stage of grief was stupid, that I probably wouldn't deal with that much in my journey.  But I'm there, mama.  I'm there.  I'm pissed off.  My kids lost their grandmother.  I lost my mama, my confidant, my soft place.  And it makes me so very angry now.  And I find myself walking around day to day with this anger inside, feeling like I could scream or punch someone in the face at any second, not knowing exactly what to do with it all.  Where do I put my anger?  If I were a runner (which we both KNOW I am not), I think I could pound it out on the pavement.  I can't write it out me... writing makes me cry.  I don't know.  I need to find a good healthy outlet.  Just not sure what it is yet.

I can't even put out my Nativity set you gave me this year.  I don't even want to look at it.  I have the spot cleared but it sits empty.  I just can't do it.  I don't know how long this part will last.  I have absolutely no answers.  None.  Just get through this... just get through that.  Seems to be my mantra lately.  I know I will see it through to the other side, but I am just not enjoying this part of the trip.

Dad bought me an ornament this year.  It's a beautiful glass ball with the pink ribbon inside complete with a little led light at the bottom.  When you turn it on, it just glows.  I cried when I put it on the tree.  I never dreamed my daddy would be buying me a Christmas ornament at any point in my life, but here we are.  And I know it was you whispering in his ear when he bought it.  I know it.

I am starting something new this year... I've decided to start a box of ornaments for Madalyn.  Each year, I will buy one or two that represent something she's either done or experienced in that calendar year.  I found a beautiful glass ball with an owl painted on it.  We went to the 4H camp during the spring and got to see owls in person, and owls always make us think about you, so it has a double meaning.  And then I found a Santa on a four wheeler to represent her learning to ride her own four wheeler by herself.  I still need to buy a little journal so that I can chronicle what I pick each year and why.  I think it will be incredibly special for her once she's established a home of her own.  And it will be fun for me to find things and write down special memories from each year.  She's getting so big.  Growing up so fast.  I am sure this will be the last year she asks for anything to do with a doll for Christmas, so I am trying to relish in the last days of her girlhood.  It's fleeting.  I can sense it.

The weather outside is nasty.  It will be a warm and wet Christmas, which is so unusual.  There's a threat of bad weather today, and I do hope it doesn't get too bad anywhere.  I hate to think of any families having to deal with tornadoes this close to Christmas.  Just doesn't seem right.  But a lot doesn't seem right these days.

I love you dearly, mama.  So deeply and dearly, and miss you just the same.  Merry Christmas in heaven from here.