Tomorrow marks four years without you.
I wonder, had you not died, how many phone calls, shopping trips, hugs, kisses on the cheek, moments just sitting on the couch, lunches at places we like to go (not the kids or the men in lives), and deep belly laughs there would have been jammed into that clump of time. We will never know. If they would have been as often as fond memories, moments of gut stabbing grief, and silent tears, they would have been plentiful.
I think ten years ago, if someone had told me that I would soon learn to live without you, without having your voice to pick me up and cheer me on comfort me, I wouldn't have believed I could do it. There are still moments that stun me and leave me with the gnawing feeling that I need you. I had one just this past Sunday evening, random and unexpected, and all I could think was that I just needed a hug from my mama. I didn't want it (because I want one every single day), but rather I felt that I needed it in that moment. I felt empty in the pit of my stomach, cold from my head to my toes. Thankfully those moments don't come often anymore. But when they do, they are just as strong as the moment I received the call that you had taken your last breath. The emptiness will follow me through life, and that I have finally accepted. When it comes, I just acknowledge it, feel it, cry if I need to, and I try to move through it to the other side. I'm getting better at that.
I look back at pictures of the kids from four years ago and realize how little they were when we lost you. They don't have a clue how much they're missing out on without you in their life. I do because I had two wonderful grandmothers growing up. In fact, if I could combine the two of them into one woman, they would make the perfect grandmother. One was sassy and adventurous, while the other was more nurturing and domestic. My kids will never know that. They won't have a grandmother to call when they're 20 years old and have an issue in their life they would rather not discuss with me. They won't have a grandmother to call to ask how to make cornbread or which flour to use in the pound cake recipe they have. They just don't have that. I have to try to be all of it, and that's impossible. Because there's just something about a grandmother that's so different from a Mama. It's a different love. It's a different feeling of comfort that I simply can't replicate. So I don't just mourn my Mama but the Gammie that's gone as well.
The past few weeks have been a little crazy. We've had our first family crisis since your death. Todd was very sick. Very, very sick. In the hospital for nearly two weeks and had to have lung surgery. Robotic surgery, if you can believe that. Just saying it sounds like science fiction. It completely sucked being so far away from him that I couldn't just run over for the day to sit with him a little and get back in time for my duties as a golf mom. My heart ached as though he were one of my own children instead of my brother. I feel the need to be the mama to all now, even cousins and friends. I don't want anyone to suffer or hurt, but I guess that's completely unrealistic! Anyway, Todd is home now and healing well. And you'll be so excited to know that he has quit smoking! So this year, two of your dreams for your children have come true... I am going back to school, and Todd has quit smoking. Oh if you were here to relish in both of those things. Well, I can just see you in my mind beaming with pride.
And daddy, well, he's moving forward. It's taken a while, and it hasn't at all been a smooth process, but he's starting a life of his own. He's doing just as you wished for him. Do you remember the conversation we had in the car that day so very long ago? I recall you saying, "When I'm gone, he will need to remarry. I don't want him to sit in that house all by himself. Promise me you won't let him." I remember telling you I didn't want to talk about it, but you said it was something we needed to discuss. So I promised you, mainly just to shut down the conversation and move on to a lighter subject. At times, it's been challenging to hold onto my promise. He's a hermit by nature, and pushing someone to leave their comfort zone is not an easy task. I fully believe you've been in cahoots with the Holy Spirit Himself setting things up along the way, laying out a path before him that he could not deny as divine. He and his bride-to-be close on a home tomorrow, a place where he can begin anew. Fresh start. She couldn't be a more perfect match for your John Hubert. She's loving and warm, nurturing down to her bones. She loves him. She thinks his quirkiness is cute and wants to share life with him. I don't know her well yet, but I know without a doubt that she will take care of my daddy, and I am honestly thankful for that gift. It's taken me a little while to process it all, to be comfortable with this different life we are all starting, but I accept it now and see the goodness in it all. Goodness.
All things work for the good for those that love the Lord. I've embraced that promise for so long now, not knowing what good would come from such loss. But there have been lots of good things. I have a stronger relationship with and understanding of my father. I parent differently. I treat people around me more empathetically. I have grown so very close to my baby cousin, Katie. I am stronger. But greater than any of these, my faith in my God is bigger than I dreamed possible at my age. I know, without a doubt, that He will give me every single thing I need to get me through each day. He always has. I've also learned that the list of things I need is way shorter than I thought.
Four years, Mama. Still not a day goes by that I don't wish you were still alive. But if I could bring you back, I honestly wouldn't want to do that to you. You are where you should be. I don't want you back here in this crazy place. I hold on to my belief that we are exactly where we're meant to be, that things are always as they should be. And I have learned to say, in the words of your favorite hymn, it is well with my soul.
I will love you forever and miss you always. So blessed to be your daughter.