Monday, December 29, 2014

Mama,

Saturday night, I drove down to Montgomery to spend the night with my sole remaining grandparent in the hospital.  Marzee is 92 now and is more than ready to join y'all in the Great Beyond.  She's so tiny now, only 91 pounds, just like Grandma Norris did in her final days.  It's so sad to see someone I've grown up loving decline so drastically.

So I made my way to the 6th floor, and immediately I remembered being there with my other grandmother a few years before and you, as well, when you had to stay there overnight with the brain tumor incident.  So I was already flooded with emotions, and when I was helping my grandmother in and out of the bed, I started crying hysterically.  Thank goodness she is 92, because she had no idea I was having an emotional breakdown right in front of her.  But the poor hospital tech walked in as I was standing there trying to force the tears to stop.  She probably thought I was losing it.  On second thought, though, I'm sure it's not the first time she's walked into a hospital room to find a family member wiping their face with a grainy paper towel.

I got my grandmother settled into bed, and she was out for the night.  So I lay there on the tiny vinyl love seat dozing in and out of sleep all night.  Around 4:00, I woke up (I think that's when they came in to do a vitals check) and was having a hard time dozing back off.  Random thoughts were popping in and out of my head like they usually do in the wee hours.  And then it hit me, though I had to go over it again and again in my mind.  We were in the very same room you stayed in that night almost three years ago.  The very same room.

So my emotional breakdown became more understandable.  Funny how the body and the brain work subconscious together all the time behind the scenes, ever more aware at the primal level than we are in the moment.  It's both amazing and frightening that even when I don't want to be aware, I am, and my body will react accordingly all outside of my control.

Anyway.  When I was standing there crying, I had this urge to run.  I just wanted to get out of there.  But that's not the most adult reaction.  So I thought about who I could call that could talk me down from this heightened emotional state, and my first thought was my bestie.  But she was in the mountains with her family.  So I realized there wasn't a person, so I prayed.  Eventually the tears stopped and my heart rate slowed and I felt in control of myself.  If you weren't dead, I wouldn't have had to stop to think about who to call.  But then again, if you weren't dead, I wouldn't have freaked out the way I did.

I'm raw right now, Mama.  Just plain raw.  Like someone has removed every square inch of skin from my body.  Everywhere I go, I feel like people can see inside me, and I don't like it.  I don't know where to turn or which way to go, really.  Lost and raw.  I guess I am missing the stability of you in my life more so than ever.  My grandmother is dying, which is a natural thing at 92 years old, but with her will fly away yet another piece of my history, of who I am.  I sat there watching her sleeping the other night thinking about who she has been in my life.  She taught me how to tie my shoes and cut paper snow flakes.  She took me and the cousins on nature walks and could name every single tree by its leaves.  She showed me how to use a typewriter and how to draw a proper stick man.  She wasn't a lovey dovey grandmother, but that was okay because she was spunky and active.  And now she's someone I don't recognize.  Sure, it's been a slow process, but this last part has come on all the sudden.

It's harder having lost you amidst all my grandparents.  You were such a huge chunk of who I have always been that the little pieces my grandparents have made up all these years feels that much bigger with your loss added to them.  It really sucks.

Anyway.  They are admitting grandmother to Crowne nursing home today, same place where you took your parents.  And I am glad they got her in quickly.  It's so hard to care for someone around the clock. It's physically and emotionally trying, and being at home without all the proper equipment and tools makes it more challenging.  I know they will take good care of her there even though a nursing home is never the ideal situation.  And now the family can focus on visiting her instead of caring for her.  It's been hard on them all.

As usual, I miss you much.  Just can't put into words how much different things are without you here, Mama.  Love always.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mama,

Today is Christmas Eve.  I woke with a heaviness in my chest as though the weight of your death is trapped inside my rib cage.  Funny how the body does this to me from time to time, and there's simply no preventing or controlling it.  I can plan and prepare and think I will be just fine, but then I wake up at 7:30 and my first thought is, "It's here."  That pressure and sinking feeling, the burning in my stomach, the physical manifestation of Christmastime grief.

I started thinking about Christmas when I was little on Croydon Road.  Back when Grandma and Granddaddy Tew would come on Christmas Eve, and we would open gifts with them.  I remember one year sitting right by the tree and Grandmother had given me Little House on the Prairie books.  I remember the add-a-bead and Barbie Corvette year.  I remember going to Grandma Norris's house on Christmas Eve night and eating all the fixings with your side of the family.  I remember laying in bed even after I knew the truth about Santa and thinking that maybe, just maybe, it was still possible.  Maybe there was magic after all.  I miss the days when I believed that magic was still possible.

I ran out to Target this morning and picked up a couple more things.  I just didn't feel like what I had for the kids was enough.  Sad to feel that way.  To think that my kids, who live in a nice house and have most everything they want, might look disappointed with what awaited them tomorrow morning.  But I have set the bar high, so it's my fault.  But I feel pleased now, and I am hoping they will be, too.  I'm sure they will.  I don't know why I fret about this from year to year, but it is a lot of pressure.

I'm just weary today, Mama.  Plain weary.  I feel so empty and lonesome.  And I know that this feeling will pass after Christmas is over, but I wish it would go away and never come back.  When will it leave forever I wonder?  Probably years from now, but I am ready for it.  Very much ready.

I'm about to put on makeup.  And then Madalyn and I will bake some cookies.  And I will go on with the day.  And I will try to play my part as best I can.  But you will be spinning in my mind all day.  All day.

Merry Christmas to you in heaven.  Love always...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mama,

For the past two days, I've wanted to talk to you more than ever.  We are having some middle school issues, and I never dreamed that middle school would be much more difficult the second time around.  It's harder to be the parent than to be the kid.  That's something they don't tell you when you embark on the parenting adventure.  It's something I never dreamed possible as I remember middle school and most of high school being pretty terrible.

So we've had these issues, and I find myself talking to a lot of people about it, mulling over details and exploring ways to handle things.  And every time I finished talking with someone about it, I found myself thinking the same thing:  Mama would know exactly what to do.  

And you would.  You would have listened, absorbed the information, talked it through with me, and helped me figure out what to do.  And even though I'm positive I came up with the same conclusion that we would have come to together, I desperately miss the process with you.  On top of that, you always had a way of making me feel sure of myself and my decision.  Now that you're gone, I second guess myself way more than before.

This is going to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.  Just like parenting, grief has proven to be way more difficult than I expected.  No one prepares you for the tears that hit at the most inconvenient moments or for the loneliness that wells up inside you when you're in a crowded room.  But no one can.  Just like parenting, if it's something you haven't experienced, then you just have no clue.  And it's almost better not knowing before hand just how hard it will be, just going into it completely blind and clueless.

It hit me in the shower yesterday afternoon as the hot water rinsed away the grime of a day's worth of living that parenting will be harder now that you're not here.  You were my sounding board, my confidant.  You always gave me the best advice and helped me find the answers I needed.  And there are so many parenting experiences ahead of me in which I will find myself thinking Mama would know what to do.  They will drive, and I will fret.  They will fall in love, and my heart will ache.  They will start out on their own, and I will have a hollow in my soul.  And I always thought you would be there helping me sort it all out.  But you won't.

I know I can do this.  That's not at question at all.  But it's hard, and I wish I had your voice in my ear just helping me through.  That's the way it should be.  Daughters should have their mothers much longer than I had you.  But we can't change that.

So I am thankful I have enough of your spirit inside me, enough words stored up to know pretty much what you would have said or suggested.  That's what keeps me sane these days.  And I can hear you tell me that I am doing just fine.  I can still hear it sometimes.

Miss you much.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mama,

I've hit that harried spot of December, the one where my head never stops spinning and I am constantly counting gifts and making lists in my mind.  Oh and calculating how much money I have left to survive until next paycheck.  Oh and thinking about what to cook to take where.  Oh and then there's laundry and housework to stay on top of.  My stream of thoughts is always followed with, "Why does it have to be this way?  I don't think this is what Christmas is about..."

This world is so strange, isn't it?  We've taken the birth of Jesus and turned it into turkey and dressing and Santa and presents.  And though I don't want to fall into it, I already have.  And though I promise myself I won't let myself get stressed out this year, I already am.  And so I will try to take a deep breath and stay calm.

Did you feel that way?  Cause I don't know if you did or not.  You never seemed to feel that way.  So if you did, I was never aware.  But then again, maybe my kids aren't aware of the constant tornado of thoughts spinning in my head.  I hope they aren't.  I hope I don't appear to be as stressed on the outside as I am on the inside.  I do hope.

We are doing our Christmas tomorrow at your house.  I made divinity yesterday, and I will make the cake today.  I texted dad and told him that if he ever doubted your love for him, he should know that if you made divinity for him every year, you loved him more than can be expressed in words.  It's a challenge.  And I think I will be cleaning splatters of white off everything in my kitchen for months to come.  Of course, I got it everywhere!  And this time, I think I cooked the syrup too long during that last part, but it still tastes good.  It's definitely not for the faint at heart in the kitchen, but once it's done, the feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming.

We are doing a traditional dinner tomorrow, and I am so glad.  I'm doing the dressing and some veggies, and dad got a ham and turkey breast.  I like going back to a traditional Christmas.  It will be weird cooking in your kitchen without you being there, but I think we will enjoy the meal so much better than takeout from somewhere.  There's love in cooking, you know.  That's something that I learned early in life from Grandma Norris.  She loved it so much, and now I understand why.  To sit back and watch people filling their plates and bellies with food you've prepared is so heartwarming and gratifying.  To be able to do it is an honor.

On Sunday, we go to be with Scott's family, so this weekend is busy, busy.  And maybe that's why my head is spinning at warp speed.  I've never had two back to back Christmases, so hopefully once I get through this weekend, my mind will simmer down a bit.  I think it will.  I hope.  One day next week, I've got to get all the kids' stuff out a have a look.  I don't feel like I have much of anything for them, but yet I've spent plenty of money.  Nothing is cheap these days.  I think Madalyn is on to us about the whole Santa thing.  She lost the magic sprinkles to her little elves, and she hasn't even freaked out about it.  And I think it's because she's figured it all out... if Mama and Daddy are behind the whole Santa thing, then they must be the magic behind the elves, too.  In a way, it's a relief.  But in a way, it's sad.  It's a feeling that we will never have back.  The magic.  The excitement.  The innocence.  But they are growing up, oh so quickly growing up, which has its perks, too.  Somedays, I wish I could freeze time with them.

Tomorrow just won't be the same without you.  I am starting to realize that it will take several years for anything to feel normal.  It feels weird to think that one day it will feel normal for you to not be here.  So we are just kinda stuck here in the middle, in between what used to be and what will be in the future.  We are stuck here in the I'm trying to accept this phase.  And it's hard and emotional and exhausting.  But it's reality.  I hope we can all make the best of it.  No matter what, we will never have this year back.  And who knows what tomorrow holds in store for us.  I'm trying, Mama.  I'm trying to enjoy each day even without you.  Some days are easier than others.  But we will make it through somehow.  We will make it through.

With Love,
Your Daughter