Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wet paper towel...

There were things that amazed me, contorted my brain in funky ways.  Things she could do that I thought were strange and impossible.  One of which involved sweeping.

We had no dust pan.  In fact, I have never owned one in my adult life, either.  I honestly don't know how to operate the simplest household contraption made.  Why?  Because I learned another technique, one far more easy than a plastic tray with an odd angle at the end.

I watched her sweep, starting at the outside corners of the room.  Sweeping in from the wall, she created a pile consisting usually of tiny blades of brown grass, bits of leaves, potato chip crumbs, and whatever other random things litter the kitchen floor.  Shaping the pile patiently and gently, she would move it toward the center of the room adding bit by bit until the floor was clean.  She took a single paper towel and ran it through a flow of water at the sink, wringing out the excess and opening it back up into a perfect square.

This is where the magic began.  She'd take that square and use it with the palm of her hand to pick up the contents of her sweeping pile.  One sweep of her hand, and most of it was gone, attaching itself to the dampness of that paper towel.  Another brush over the floor, and it was clean.

As a child, I was amazed.  When I swept a floor of my own, I quickly realized it wasn't as easy to do as it looked.  It took me years to master the art.  For a few years, I had to use two paper towels.  Now I have it down to just one.  Just like her.

May not seem so magical to you, but it is to me.  I can still see her young hands performing the task.  I can still feel my sense of wonder and pure delight in her.  She was awesome to me then, and even more now. Even though she's gone, she has left these little pieces of her instilled in me that I never knew would mean so much.

I swept the floor yesterday and thought of you, Mama, especially when I wet that paper towel.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Four weeks...

Four weeks.  Four weeks without her.  In some ways, it feels like four forevers since I have seen my Mama.  So much of her feels so far away.  I find myself between two places every single day... either reminding myself that she's gone or trying to remember what it was like when she was here.

Funny how the world keeps on moving.  Baseball parks are still full of boys in pants and cleats and mud stains and hot dogs.  The school buses run their normal routes.  Dogs still bark at strangers passing by their fences.  Flowers still bloom.  The rain showers come and go.  My bills are still due on the same day as always.  The laundry piles up at the same rapid speed.  That nasty black stuff still grows in the crevices of the shower door.

Everything is the same, but nothing is the same.  It's so strange.

Things that mattered to me before don't matter anymore.  Conversations with friends that were interesting before have lost their luster.  I don't care about what so-and-so is doing with whom, who is talking about who, what the latest word is across town.  The things that used to stress me out have become minuscule.  Life without my mother is bigger than anything I have ever experienced, and dealing with it has become all that my heart can handle.

In a way, the past few months have sent me to a place I had only heard of.  A place of utter dependence on God to get me through.  A place where you have no other choice but to cling to God.  Between the shock and awe of the brain tumor and surgery to the week of hospice care to the actual loss... between all of that, I have felt the Lord pull me closer, and I have given way to Him.  I won't lie and say that I haven't turned to my old stand-bys for a little comfort as well (chocolate, carbs, and alcohol), though I wish I could say that I have grieved in the purest most Godly way.  But every day, all day long, I talk to Him.  And I have come to a relationship with Him where I can tell Him how I really feel and I am certain that He really cares.

Now I feel like a stranger in a foreign world, and I have to relearn how to navigate the streets, how to speak the language, how to be who I am without that one person who made me who I am today.  Like I keep telling my dad, we just have to put one foot in front of the other over and over and over again.  I think one day, I will wake up and it will be a tiny bit easier.  A tiny bit less sad.  A tiny bit less painful.  But until then, I will just keep moving.

My status on Facebook a couple of weeks ago says it all:  One thing I have learned in the past couple of weeks is that sadness isn't necessarily an overwhelming emotion. Sometimes it's simply ever present, just beneath the surface of every thought and moment. Sure am missing her today.

Just because I am moving, doing what I always do, doesn't mean the sadness isn't there.  It will always be there.  I will miss her forever.  

I can't believe it's been four weeks.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

For Mama...

I look for you in everything.
In the flight of the bird,
The music in the wind,
The trees as they rustle,
In the flower as it spins.
I look for you in everything.

I look for you in everything.
In the fluffy of the clouds,
The color of the sky,
In the softness of the grass,
The gentle flutter of the butterfly.
I look for you in everything.

I wait to find you once again.
To hear you voice,
To see your face,
To share an eternal
Warm embrace.
I wait to find you once again.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I popped in the Mercy Me CD this morning as I headed down 65 south to see my dad.  We were picking up my grandmother to visit the graveside and then eat lunch.  What a day out, huh?

I liked the first song, skipped through a few more that didn't do much for me, and landed on track number 6.  I've heard the song before, but the first line of the song stuck straight through my heart like a dagger.

To understand it even more deeply, I must tell you that the CD came from my mother's car.  

There are pieces of her everywhere, but the pieces still aren't enough.  I miss her so deeply.  I long to hear her voice.  Just to talk to her.  Nothing fancy.  Just to be in her presence and have a moment.  I hope one day, once the grief thins out a little, that these pieces she left behind will sustain me.  Until then, this song really says it all.  And I can't help but think God left it behind for me to hear.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Seeing the Good...

When my kids hear me coughing, they both ask me the same question.  "Are you okay, Mama?"

My husband hears the bark, and he asks, "Are you getting sick?"

If my mom ever heard me congested in my nose over the phone, long before the first cough, she would say, "You know that always goes straight to your chest... what are you taking for it?  You need to rest.  Your bathrooms can wait."

See, that's the difference.  Not that my kids and husband aren't concerned about me being under the weather, because they obviously are.  But my Mama, well, she knew the pattern.  She watched the pattern develop.

I remember standing in our red kitchen on Croydon Road in Montgomery, Alabama in what had to have been the early 80's.  Oh, if you could have seen our red kitchen!  Red laminate counter tops, and this funky wall paper with little 70's inspired flowers (if my memory serves me right) complete with brown tile floor and cabinets.  Fantastic!  She would pull that little glass prescription bottle out of the cabinet beside the refrigerator... that was back when everything came in a glass bottle.  Apple juice, cokes in the machine, and cough syrup.  She would retrieve a metal spoon from the drawer and pour the bright yellow syrup out, and I could taste it in my mouth before my tongue ever touched it.  Still can today.  "This is the only thing we've found that really helps your cough, so let's take it," she would reply when I asked why oh why I had to take that nasty stuff!

And she was right.  She was always right.  Like when she would put those nasty nose drops in my nostrils to open up my sinuses.  And when she warmed the olive oil over the stove, poured it in the canal of a very sore ear, and stuffed it with cotton.  Like when she would give me a cold rag to lay over my forehead when I had a high fever.  She always knew what would make me feel better from the very time I was born.  If she was ever unsure, I never knew it.

Just a matter of years ago, I would laugh at her concern for me when I was sick.  "Mama, I am fine... I know what to do.  I've got two of my own now, and I know how to take care of a sick person, even if it's me."  Oh to go back and tell myself to shut up.  To drink it in.  To bathe in her concern and love and knowledge without trying to prove my independence.

I have been sick since Friday.  Really down for the count since Sunday, the day that marked my first full week without her presence here on earth.  All these images have been flashing in my mind of her, of that last week, of the parts of death that I never knew existed, the things that seem so unfair and cruel.  They just flash in the most uncontrollable way at any given moment of the day.  And it's not the way I want to remember her.  And so I have been a little blue, wondering when they day those last not so pleasant experiences would fade and I would have the sweet memories.

On Tuesday, I cried out to God in total and complete fatigue, with muscles so sore from coughing I didn't want to move, "I know you promise all things work for the good, but how is this gonna work for the good?  I just want to feel better!"  Yesterday, as I sat in the little grey room of the doctor's office alone, all these memories began to flood my mind... of the cough syrup, the cold rags, the calamine lotion when I had the nastiest case of chicken pox, the way she knew I had strep by my weird throwing up I would do, the way she took care of me when I needed her.  And I sat there and cried.  I miss her so deeply.  I miss her in a way that can never be undone.  I hear all the suggestions, I understand that she's in a better place, but I still miss my Mama, and I think I will until the day I join her in heaven.

Just now, as I have typed these words, I see the good from the bronchitis.  I feel the good.  I have these beautiful memories flooding my brain of her taking care of me instead of me taking care of her.  These precious times when I was her daughter, and she simply did what she always did so well... take care of me.

Thank you, Jesus, for promises that are always true.  Thank You for not giving up on me in my stubbornness and years of running from You.  Thank You for pulling me back in Your perfect timing.  Thank You for dying for me, for her, for all of us, so that I am assured to see her again in a place where neither one us will have to take care of each other.  In You Precious Name, I pray... Amen.

And we know that all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  {Romans 8:28}

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.  You know the way to the place I am going.  {John 14:1-4}

"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity.  I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."  {Jeremiah 29:12-14}