Monday, April 20, 2015

Mama,

This afternoon is just the kind of afternoon you would have loved.  Low humidity.  Light breeze.  Moderate temperature.  It's lovely.  I'm currently barefoot but in sweatpants, so that tells you what it feels like.  It would make you smile.

The past few days have been hard.  It's all this build up to the day you died.  Remembering every little step along the way is painful, especially the unpleasant stuff.  Because so much of the physical act of dying is incredibly unpleasant.  I wasn't prepared for that.  I don't know that anyone could ever be prepared for that part of the death experience.  You just have to navigate it one second at a time, and then you'll have to deal with it one day at time once your loved one is gone.

So here I am, the motherless child, awaiting the 22nd.  Since you died in the wee hours of the morning, I will wake up that day and begin a new year without you.  Another year without you.  So hard to believe still.  I will begin another year of my life as a wife and mother and friend without you.  I guess I look like I am doing okay if you look at me from the outside.  But no one understands what's going on inside of me.  No one.  Not my husband.  Not my best friend.  Neither one of my kids.  Absolutely no one except the Deity knows.

Last week, Madalyn had a big field trip.  We left on Wednesday and headed down to the 4H center on the Coosa River.  It's a science/conservation center that focuses on educating children about the environment and all the animals that live in it.  We spent two nights there, and during the day we were divided into groups to attend classes.  They were all really interesting, and I was surprised at how much I learned.  At night, we had an evening program, and the first night was about birds of prey.  So they had all these cages sitting on a table.  They were solid on the back and all the way around, so we couldn't see what was inside.  They brought out the first two birds, and they were these little owls.  Have mercy, they were adorable.  And there I sat in the middle of 80 fourth graders fighting back tears cause I knew how much you would have loved to see those owls.  You would have loved it.  In all, they brought out four owls.  They were just beautiful.

Everywhere we went around the property, I thought of you.  The ferns and moss on the forest floor, the blooms on the random plants scattered around.  The peace.  The sound of the light rain hitting the newborn leaves of each tree.  It was just you.  I can't explain it.  I never enjoyed these things until you left.  I never paid attention.  Funny how losing someone so dear to you changes the way you see everything, even the trees.  Everything looks different, both good and bad.  And it can be heavy and painful, especially around these big dates like the anniversary of your death.

So Wednesday, I have this planned... pull weeds and plant some things in my pots.  It's supposed to be a nice day, so I plan to spend the majority of it outside in your memory.  It definitely won't be the same since I won't be able to call you and tell you about everything I do.

Love you always.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Mama,

It's Easter morning, and I've got a sausage pie in the oven.  The discovery of that recipe certainly sparked a long standing tradition.  You always did it for Christmas morning, and now I've added in Easter morning for my family.  It's a favorite around here.

No church this year for us.  No coordinated outfits and new shoes.  I just won't be one of those people who graces the door on Easter morning and no other to try to prove something to the Man Upstairs.  He knows me already.  Him knowing me is scary and comforting at the same time.  He knows the worst of me, the dark spots, the areas where I don't trust Him the way I should and all the ways I cope with that. But He knows why I am where I am, He knows my hurt and grief, and He understands.  That's the comforting side.  He is the only one who really knows what goes on inside my head from day to day.

You spoke to me this morning, Mama, and I heard it.  Madalyn came into the kitchen while I was browning sausage and handed me a gift.  It was wrapped in a handmade envelope of lime green duck tape and had a little bow tied around it from the roll of white curling ribbon I keep in the cabinet.  Inside was that bracelet I gave you, the one that was pink leather strapped and had the stamped metal thing on it that said hope.  So I opened it up, and the word was staring me straight in the eyes.  Hope.  HOPE.  It's something I have lost vision of here lately, Mama.  It's something way off in the distance.  Funny thing is that when you were dying and shortly after you died, I had more hope than ever before. But as time and grief have worn on me, the hope has faded into the horizon.  I know it hasn't moved; I know it's me.  I've moved.  I've drifted.  

I've fooled myself into believing that when I reach certain marks, it will get easier.  Grief will be easier. Missing you will be easier.  It's what everyone has tried to convince me, too.  After the first year, all the firsts will be gone, and it will be easier.  Not so true.  After two years, then it just hurts less and less.  Not so true.  Here I am coming up quickly to three and it hurts more today than it ever did before.

But maybe, in reality, if we're honest with ourselves, maybe that's how it's supposed to be.  With every morning that I rise, I have to accept that you're gone.  And each day presents its own challenges in which I have to hold onto my acceptance.  So that's where I am stuck.  In the acceptance part.  And as I work my way through it, all the other emotions weave themselves in and out at the same time.  Depression.  Anger.  Those are my big ones.  Truth is, you prepared me for this world without you.  You did an amazing job in raising me, counseling me along the way, setting an example for what I should be.  I can live without you in the world.  I am fully able.  But being able doesn't mean it's the way you want it to be.

I'm sad that my daughter doesn't get to pick out a tacky purse for Easter with you.  Do you remember how Grandma Norris would make me a dress and then take me shopping for shoes and a purse?  Madalyn doesn't have that.  David won't know what it's like to sit in front of his Gammie and her just naturally scratch his back the way you always did, the way your mother always did to each of her grandsons when we were growing up.  I'm already coming to grips with the fact that you won't be here for so many conversations I will want to have with you.  All of these things, and many more, make me both angry and depressed.  But every day, I have to get up and make a choice.  I don't ever want either of those emotions control my life, and I don't think I have ever given them that much power.  But it would be easy to do... to just give up and let them take over.  In writing you this letter, I am finding I have more hope than I first thought I did.

I guess it's the hope that keeps me going, that keeps me from curling up in a ball and giving up.  Because I could.  That's how bad it still hurts.  There's this sunken place in my spirit, and at any moment I really could just lie down in it and stay.  But I do believe there's more to life than that.  More than the love and grief, there's a tomorrow land where you are now.  A place where things are as they should be.  The way He intended them to be.  A place where we are safe and loved and comforted.  So sometimes I stop and think about Heaven when I am feeling my saddest, and knowing that you're there makes me feel a little better.

Last night, Madalyn and I dyed eggs.  I honestly don't think I've ever dyed eggs with my kids.  You know I'm not that mom.  I am not one of those crafty, hands on kind of mothers who can just sit back and relax while her children make a monumental mess.  As I stood there with her, I was transported back to Croydon Road.  I was at the kitchen table, eggs in front of me, kit in hand.  And you were there.  I don't remember a lot of details, but I remember enough.  I am so grateful I had you as a mother.  So eternally grateful.

Enjoy your Easter in Heaven, Mama.  I love you always!