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.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mama,

Fall is here.  Leaves are everywhere, and the temperatures are finally beginning to regulate.  This weekend promises to be absolutely lovely, so I plan on finding some things to do outside to enjoy the weather.  Tomorrow Madalyn has powder puff football practice... yes, you read that right.  So our normal riding plans have been thwarted (well, at least for me and her), so I will not be getting my normal dose of nature in the woods.  Funny how much I have come to enjoy it and look forward to it.  It's so interesting to watch the scenery change.  In the past few weeks I have noticed how the Kudzoo begins to fade away.  Little holes form in the broad leaves, and the vines retreat back into the woods.  I always thought freezing temperatures killed it off, but apparently it's more the fading hours of sunlight.  The leaves are coming down pretty quickly, but we haven't had the brilliant color change we normally experience.  I guess the past couple of months have been so dry that the leaves are falling before they reach their peak color.

The world really is a beautiful place.  In all seasons there is beauty.  Even if you have to squint or turn your head to see it, the beauty is there.  I didn't realize that until a few years ago.  I am not sure if it's from maturing or if it's from going through the whole experience of losing you.  It's probably more a combination of both.  But now, I stop to see things, to really see, and I find that it calms me deep inside my soul.

You came up in my Timehop again this morning.  Four years ago you gave me my copy of Jesus Calling.  I will never forget the day.  It was such a nice little surprise.  You were always good at that.  You listened to things I said in passing and remembered.  And then you would surprise me with it.  No one else has ever done that for me, so I miss it.  I miss having a person who just paid attention to the little things and thought about little ways to make me happy.  That sounds so selfish, doesn't it?  It's kind of embarrassing to admit, but it's so true.  Life is a different experience without that.  It's not even something I was conscious of until it was gone.  And I get it because I am a mother and try to do the same for my kids.  It's just part of it.  We listen to the little things and are constantly thinking about ways to make our kids smile and feel special.  And, on the inside, I think we all feel like little kids who just want to be appreciated and loved.  So I miss my mama making me feel special.  I miss it deeply.

It's that time of year... I visited our new makeup store here in Alabaster yesterday, and when I checked out, the lady asked, "Would you like to donate a dollar to breast cancer research?"  Of course I said yes.  I wanted to tell her I would donate all that I had if it meant no one would ever have to know the pain of losing their mother, grandmother, sister, friend from breast cancer.  Instead, I took my little bag and cried in my car.  Not an ugly cry, but just little tears that could easily be wiped away.  Three years ago, it probably would have been a very ugly cry.  But now it usually doesn't go that far.  It takes major things to put me into the sobbing, snotting kind of reaction.  But I did decide to just go home from there.  I had planned to go to Belk to look for Madalyn a jacket, but every time I go to Belk I miss you so terribly that I thought it best to just call it a day.

The kids got their report cards yesterday.  David got two Cs, an A, and two Bs.  Madalyn got all As and one B.  Of course I am completely satisfied with both of them.  Madalyn is completely independent, which is such a breath of fresh air after having to breathe fire down David's back for him to complete homework and assignments for so many years.  She is in charge of her work and studying and needs very little help.  I have really let David be this year, not checking his grades on a daily basis and not harping on him.  He has done well.  I guess some parents would be disappointed with his grades, but I am satisfied.  He is taking care of what he needs to do on his very own, and this means more to me than the actual grades.  He's maturing and taking pride in his work, which is something I was doubtful he would ever do.  They are both really good kids.  They make me proud.  Yes, they make mistakes, but they both have such warm hearts and good intentions.  I adore them both, in totally different but equal ways.

Not much else going on.  Things are quiet.  We are sort of in a season of change.  Friendships have shifted.  Life is just different, much more so than I could have imagined.  But that's okay.  It's just life I guess.  And I am certainly used to adapting to change.  Makes me wonder what things will look like three years from now.  I guess there's no way to tell.  No way to know what relationships sustain and what new ones will emerge.  It will just have to be a surprise.

Love you always...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mama,

The past few days have been busy, busy.  I don't particularly like busy, but oh well... I will deal with it. Madalyn is cheering this fall, so that means we have a lovely practice and game schedule.  The practice part isn't bad, but most of our games don't kick off until 7:45 (well, in theory... it's been later than that both games we've played so far) so that makes for late nights.  Late nights tend to make me grumpy.  Grumpy isn't good for anyone.  It's a short season, though, so we will make it through.

I do believe I've broken my left pinky finger.  I slipped a few weeks ago on a rock in the Cahaba River (words I never dreamed I would ever type) and came down on my left trying to break myself with my hand.  It bruised pretty badly and has hurt ever since, but now it's actually hurting more than it was when it first happened.  I was hoping I had just jammed my finger, but now I am leaning toward a fracture.  So I have an appointment next Tuesday to have it checked out.  Good times.  I can't imagine them doing anything other than giving me a brace or splint to wear so it will heal.  A couple of people have told me just to buy a splint at Walmart, but I just don't feel comfortable self-treating this injury.  I would prefer having a professional opinion.  And I think that's what you would tell me to do, too.  In fact, I'm sure of it.

Last Friday night, Erika and I went to the Homecoming game at ACA.  It's been 20 years since we graduated which is completely insane.  We never could get a good plan for a formal reunion, so we finally just decided that anyone who could make it should come to the game.  Ten of us showed up.  Of course, that doesn't sound like a lot, but we only graduated 50 in our class, so ten is not so bad.  We had a good time.  One of our classmates showed us around the school so we could see how much the building has changed.  We laughed and told old stories.  I got to see my favorite teachers.  And I walked up on the stage where I had so much joy through my years there.

It seemed so small.  The stage that felt so large and intimidating in my teen years felt half the size to me as an adult.  I guess our perspective changes so much once we age.  Things and experiences that seemed so large years ago now seem minuscule.  No doubt that stage was intimidating and challenging, but it's nothing in comparison to being a wife or mom.  It's nothing in comparison to the things I have lived through, like losing you.  I wonder if I had known that back then if I would have savored things more.  I don't know that it's possible when you're young to understand that what is big now will one day seem so small.

I drove home the next morning thinking about that stage.  How I stood there with great pride way back when.  Yes, I was nervous, but I was never scared of failure back then.  I thought about where my fear had come from... how did the seed get planted?  And I realized it was Tom that put it there, his voice continually ringing in my ear, "You're not good enough... you'll never amount to anything... you're plain and average... you will never be enough."  And thinking about that made that hate well up inside me again for him.  I am still angry at myself for ever allowing him that deep inside my mind, for ever believing the crap that spewed from his mouth.  And then I questioned myself... Have I ever really taken back the power?  Or do I still hear that same old tape of his asinine thoughts about me?

I am still afraid to fail.  Afraid to rise up.  Afraid to go back to school.  Afraid to take the next step.  Afraid to put myself out there.  All because a part of me still hears, "You will never be enough."  It's not the dominant voice in my head anymore, but it still comes through loud and clear when I am facing a big decision.  It paralyzes me.  Well, I allow it to paralyze me.

If you were still alive, I would talk to you about this, and you would say something like, "But you are already enough.  You just have to do what you want to do and push your fears out of the way."  How I would love to hear you encourage me.  Because, honestly, your opinion of me was always the most important to me.  Always.  Maybe it still is.  Maybe that's why it is still so hard to be here without you.  I'm still looking for that reinforcement, and I just don't ever find it anywhere.  Funny how grown up I am now but I still find myself needing my mother's voice to tell me that I am doing okay.  Well maybe I don't really need it but rather long for it.

Life moves on.  Time is flying by, and it won't wait for me.  And it really doesn't matter if I am feeling confident or insecure, it does not stop.  Finding a way to fully step into who I am and what I am worth to this world proves to be a bigger challenge than I ever dreamed it would be.  Wouldn't it be easier to just stay in my house and live out my days being wife and mom?  Most definitely.  But I have to find the courage to move forward with what I feel is the next step for me.

Oh how I wish you could visit for just one day so you could just sit down with me the simple way we did before.  But that's selfish wish, you know, to want to pull you away from the perfection of where you are.  And so I will keep on remembering the words you said when you were still here.  And, of course, I will love you forever...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mama,

It's been a while since I've written.  The summer has come and nearly gone in a blur, much like all the seasons in my life here lately.  What is that old saying... time doesn't stop for me.  Or is it wait for me?  Either way, it's true.  Everything keeps going, and it seems like it speeds up when you want it to slow down.

We had a great trip to the beach.  We went to the Ft. Walton area this year, and the beaches were absolutely gorgeous.  The water was crystal clear, and I do believe the sand was even more like powder there than it is in Orange Beach.  David is actually gone now with his friend.  Gone for an entire week. It has been a little weird letting him go, both literally and figuratively.  He's getting so much older and more independent.  In a couple of years, he will be driving out of the driveway by himself.  It just seems so strange.

I'm taking advantage of him being gone by painting his room.  It's LONG overdue.  I think he was seven when I painted his room last, so you can imagine the condition of his walls.  Yesterday, I took my wall spackle and filled in nail holes and gouges all over the room.  I even found a metal BB lodged in the wall.  Have mercy.  I shot him a quick text that we won't have metal BBs in the wall after I get done painting.  We are going with a medium shade of grey, which promises to be a challenge considering I'm painting over orange.  I guess any color over orange would be a challenge.  I invested in a good primer, so hopefully that will help.  And I have to repaint his ceiling since there are little toe and foot prints above his bunk bed.  So we are taking down the bunk bed, and I bought him a metal bed frame.  It's a dark grey, so that will go nicely.  I will paint his dresser navy blue, and we found a navy and grey and cream striped comforter.  I think it will look really sharp, very grownish.

Of course Madalyn is freaking out.  She said to me yesterday, "Ok, I will admit it... I'm a little jealous." She's still got a twin bed, and she's mad as fire that David already has a full size.  She's already tired of her pink walls (that I just painted 18 months ago) and ready to change that.  She wants a new comforter (even though her comforter is not that old and she picked it out herself).  It's been very dramatic around here lately.  I can't reason with her.  Or, maybe, it's just that she throws the logic out the window that David's room hasn't been painted in seven years and hers was recently done.  Madalyn is really good at throwing logic out the window.  I have assured her that she doesn't get the short end of the stick around here.  Truth is, we are waiting to get her a larger bed until she's older.  She still plays in her room.  And her room is laid out differently than David's, so there aren't many options for bed placement.  But it's drama, high drama!  She'll get over it.

She started cheer practice last night.  The last time she cheered was first grade, and you were alive.  Remember when I picked you up and took you to the game so you could see her cheer?  You smiled the whole time even though your mouth was covered in sores from that experimental drug you were taking at the time, the one that didn't fight your cancer the way it was expected to.  Seems so long ago.  I ran across a picture the other day of the kids from 2012, and I was shocked to see how little they were when you died.  I hate that.  I hate it that they missed out on you, and I hate it that you missed out on being their Gammie.  That sucks.  I was in Cracker Barrel with Madalyn one day last week, and we were walking around the shopping area looking at all the stuff (which automatically reminds me of you).  I saw this little sign that said "I love that you're my mom."  I almost cried right there in the middle of overpriced gifts and nostalgic candy.  I loved that you were my mom.  It's hard when you've lost something that big, something that so many people have but take for granted.

I'm at this weird place right now.  I notice older women every where I go lately, and I wonder to myself what you would have been like if you had lived.  How you would have aged.  What we would do together.  I imagine birthdays and milestones.  I imagine shopping with you.  Would you wander off the way Grandma Norris always did?  Would you drive me nuts?  I don't know, never will.  And that's hard.  I see older women, and I feel compelled to go up to them and hug them and tell them that seeing them makes me miss my Mama even more than I did when I woke up that morning.  But then people would think I had lost my mind, so I hold myself back.  Oh these little things that haunt me all the time.

I've decided I am going back to school.  Well, I am like 90% sure.  It's time.  I am sure you're doing cartwheels in heaven at the thought of it!  You always wanted me to go back.  I am thinking social work.  I just feel pulled that way.  Truth is, what in the world am I going to do once these kids are out of high school and beginning their own life?  And Scott... Lord have mercy, he's worked his butt off all these years and can't realistically continue pulling 70 hour work weeks into his 60s.  I can finish out a degree and start working.  Even though I will never bring in the money Scott makes, I can bring in some, and that will hopefully give him the chance to step back a little when he's ready to do that.  I have no idea if I want to work with the elderly or children or in a hospital setting, but I am guessing I will feel led to a certain place once I get in there and get my feet wet.  I'm just ready to do it.  I feel this excitement bubbling up inside me that I haven't felt in a very long time.  I'm ready to plug my brain back in and use it.  I'm terrified, but excited.

Well, I need to get up and get to work.  I have a bunk bed to take apart and get out of my way.  And lots and lots of painting to do.  Wish you were here to help!  I bet you're not one bit jealous!

Love you always...

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mama,

Summer is here.  School is officially out, and I now have a 5th grader and 9th grader in my house.  Seriously?!?!  I can't believe how big they are getting, and it's happening right here underneath my nose every day.  David was in 5th grade when you died, so I think that's why it's so hard to comprehend that now Madalyn is going into the 5th grade.  It's been so long since I last saw you and talked to you.  You wouldn't recognize the kids... well, I'm sure you would, but you would be shocked.  David is maturing, and Madalyn is shooting up tall as a sunflower.

I was so ready for summer this year, more than usual, I will admit.  4th grade got the better of me.  It's the first teacher that I just could not connect with.  Could not.  I guess because as Madalyn shifted to the intermediate school, there comes along with it a greater divide between parent and school.  They expect them to be a little more independent, and I get that.  But I only got to attend one class party, the one at Christmas.  And I got tired of signing every single sheet of paper that came home.  And I'm just glad 4th grade is over.

8th grade was no less challenging, just in different ways.  David started the year off well, and then after Christmas break just struggled with some test grades.  And in the middle of that was golf, which was so difficult this season for him.  He was trying new techniques, he messed up his back, and then he just never got the zeal for it again once he could return.  I don't know if it was pure discouragement or if it was fear he would hurt himself again.  Whatever it was, he just stepped back from it.  We had him set up for weekly lessons, but he wasn't showing any desire to practice or put in the time, so we called it off.  We'll see what his future holds.  Right now, he's all into his four wheeler and learning how to do different things to it.  He's good with his hands when he wants to be.

I picked up reading my Jesus Calling again.  It's been months since I sat down with it.  When I get in a funk, it's hard to read it because it just reminds me of you and all of our struggles as you fought cancer. It's amazing, though, how much better I feel when I read it and focus my mind on the things that matter.  I've been a bit of a mess lately, I will be honest.  It's like I keep looking and waiting for someone, something that can fill your spot, desperately wanting someone to love me the way you did.  In the past few months, I've started to realize that I will never have that again.  No one will ever love me the way you did... it's just not possible.  You were my Mama, but you were so much more because you were you.  I'm even more convinced now than ever that our souls knew from the minute we met that we would not have an entire life span together, and that is what helped create our unusual bond.  It's not that our relationship was perfect... I drove you crazy, and you got on my nerves, and we had the normal ups and downs any parent/child relationship has.  But we didn't have the big issues, the screaming and fighting and other things like that which bring about deep regret.  I don't have any regrets, and I am confident to say you didn't either.  And that's a gift.  I think it eases my plight with grief a little, and then it adds in something that not many others can understand.  My hole is larger than most in daughters that have lost their mothers because our relationship was so much broader and deeper than the typical mother and daughter relationship.  It's something to be grateful for, and yet it is what makes me ache ever more.

I'm getting this.  I'm recognizing that I can't look to anyone else to take your place.  I can't put that pressure on anyone because it is an impossible task.  But to think about it and realize makes me so angry.  So very angry.  I've got to stop expecting people around me to nurture me like my Mama once did and get back in the Word.  That's all there is to it.  And it makes me mad to admit that, because inside I feel like a five year old little girl that wants to crawl into her mother's lap and read a book.

I remember sitting in your lap one Saturday morning.  You had your coffee cup beside you.  I don't think anyone else was awake yet, and you sang your original musical masterpiece, The Saturday Song. It's just a little snippet of a memory, like a clip of a movie immortalized in one of my brain cells.  That's where I would like to be.  In a Saturday, a safe Saturday, in a world where you still exist.  But that is not to be, is it?  So, here I am.  Learning to live without you is more painful than I ever dreamed it would be.  Learning to let my assuredness bubble up from the inside.  Learning to love myself.  Learning to stand on my own two feet without you beside me or behind me or wherever I need you to be.  But I am learning, Mama.  I am trying.  And that's the best I can do.

I love you dearly.  Always will.