Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mama,

The house is quiet today.  Scott and the kids decided on a whim to go to Six Flags with some friends, and I stayed behind since I had so much to do to prepare for tomorrow.  Scott's mom, grandmother, and his brother and his family will be here for Easter lunch.  I've already got my mashed potatoes ready, and put together the banana pudding poke cake and popped it in the fridge to sit overnight.  You would love that cake.  It's all the goodness of banana pudding, but better.  So now I just need to clean the bathrooms and run the vacuum.

I didn't buy any Easter outfits this year since we won't be doing the church thing in the morning.  I'm just not in the perfectly-coordinated-pastel mood this year at all.  I do have a bunch of eggs to hide for the kids, and David is so excited to have family coming.  You know how he always loves having people in his house.  He always has.

Every thing just feels so strange right now.  I saw a man walking down the street yesterday dressed like Jesus carrying a cross on his back.  People were waving to him from inside their cars, and I did the same.  And I thought it crazy how numb I am to the meaning of anything here lately.  The sight of a pretend Jesus didn't bring up any emotion in my heart.  All I could think to myself is that you are dead.  And then I started to cry, not about the pretend Jesus with the cross but more about the fact that you are still dead.

Still dead, aren't you?

It's funny how I still have to question that.  I would think by now I'd have accepted it, but I guess there's still some tiny little speck inside of me that thinks I will pick up the phone and hear your voice, that we will go to Belk again and look for Madalyn an Easter dress, that we will go have lunch at Olive Garden.  But you're still dead, so we can't.

So I will cook a big lunch tomorrow.  Ham and mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese and green beans and purple hull peas.  I will butter store bought rolls.  I will try not to eat too much of the kids candy from their baskets.  I will try not to cry in front of anyone.  And I will just get through another day without you.

Tuesday will mark two years since you've been gone.  I can't believe it.  It just doesn't seem real.  I think it feels less real to me now than it did when I touched your cool body.  How is that possible, Mama?  How have I not gotten used to this yet?  And when will I know what to do?  When will this new life become more like normal?

So today, I've got some music playing as I cook and clean.  And I think when I am all done with my household chores, I will run to Lowe's and get some flowers for my pots.  And I will think of you in nearly every second of what I do this weekend, remembering our last Easter together, remembering you and all you were to me.

I miss you so...
Tamara

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dogwoods...

I found myself in the middle of the woods despite the threat of rain.  They are beginning to fill in with new life, above my head and below my feet.  Green bursting forth, changing the bleak grey of winter into the brilliance of spring.  And there I saw them, white and lacy, as though someone hand-painted them into the scene.

And suddenly I am back at the kitchen table.  It's the wee hours of a Sunday morning, but one unlike any I've experienced before.  My whole family is there, but it is awkwardly quiet.  She is there, still, but not the way we wanted her to be.  She was in another room with two strangers, with each passing moment her earthly body losing its natural heat.  I sit with a pamphlet in front of me.  My father had passed it to me and asked me to fill as much of it out for him as possible.  I filled in the blank spots.  Date of birth.  Names of parents and siblings.  Name of spouse, children, grandchildren.  I looked over options for head stones, some more plain, some a little feminine, one perfect.

Dogwood.  A simple design in bronze.  A few delicate dogwood flowers at each corner.  She always loved dogwoods.

I remember the one in our front yard on Croydon Road in Montgomery.  At the time, her sons were younger, more rambunctious, still enjoying an intense game of wiffle ball or football in the front yard with friends.  And she was so protective of that dogwood tree she had planted.  I remember when I moved into my home I live in now and she first noticed the budding tree line behind my house.  She pointed out the dogwoods.  I think she even joked about digging one up for herself.

So there they were, white and lacy.  The dogwoods littered the woods in the same magnificent way my memories of her permeate each day.  And suddenly the weird blend of sadness and peace rushed over me.  Only those that have grieved deeply can understand this specific blend, one occurring only upon seeing or hearing something that reminds you so much of someone who is no longer alive that it brings about an equal amount of connection and sadness.  The bitter reminder of love and loss.  It's the most bizarre experience.

And it's in the simplest things.  Dogwoods and Cadbury Eggs and Christmas ornaments and recipes.  It's not limited to the traditional holidays and the birthdays and the anniversary days.  And now that I have lived it and felt it and grief has breathed its ugly hot breath in my face for so long that I want to scream every single day of my life, I will love differently because of it.  It's all different from that one point forward in a way I wasn't prepared for, in a way I could never be prepared for.

Dear Lord, I thank you for the mother I mourn, as I know she was a gift You gave to me, one in which some are not blessed to have in their lives.  I pray for those around me every day who are hurting in this quiet lonely way I have come to understand, for those that see the dogwoods and fight back the tears, for those who carry on with the bandages over their open wounds so no one can see.  I pray for them though I know not who they are.  I pray Your peace and comfort and patience rain down on them, sustain them.  In Your Son's Holy and Precious Name, may it BE Lord.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mama,

It hit me today in the seasonal aisle at Walmart as I walked among the pastel colored M&Ms and little bunny shaped chocolates.  I saw them, the Cadbury eggs, and the tears welled up inside my eyes unexpectedly.  All I wanted to do was pick up a few things for the kids Easter basket, a holiday that, for some reason, this year I would just rather skip over all together.  But I thought if I went ahead and got the things I need it would just be out of the way.

So I stood there looking at the Cadbury eggs remembering how we used to call each other at the first sighting.  How you or me, whichever saw them first, would buy a pack and share them with each other.  How we both loved chocolate so dearly.  York peppermint patties, Snicker bars, Three Muskateers, and Butterfingers.  And it's like all these memories come flooding in all at once.  And suddenly I am 18 again, and we are sitting at the counter at our old house eating together.  Or we are at the Dairy Queen eating a Blizzard.  It's nothing all that special really, but the fact that it was you and me, mom and daughter, enjoying one another so much... that's what made it so unique.

Damn, I miss that.

Easter is two days before the second anniversary of your death this year.  And, to be honest, Mama, I don't even know if I can handle going to church this year.  I just don't thing I can bear it.  There will be music, and I will lose my composure.  And I just don't want to feel anything right now.  I just want to let it all pass.  To buy the candy for the baskets, to fill them up for the big fake bunny, and to move on.  Just move on.

Someone told me that after the second year mark of losing their dad, things seemed to get easier.  I hope that's true for me, too.  I have tried so hard to keep my head above water, to honor your strength and integrity while you were fighting cancer, but the past several months, it's just been harder.  I miss the way things should be.  Even though I am all grown up with kids of my own, I still feel like I need your wisdom and support.

I bought two Cadbury eggs today.  I ate one on the way home.  It was so good.  And I can't help but think you're enjoying lots of tasty sweets without this stupid worldly worry of gaining weight.  And I can't wait to be there with you some day enjoying a perfect place with no grief or sorrow.

I love you still even though you're gone.

Always,
Your baby girl