Madalyn's birthday has come and gone. She is now eleven. I've been thinking a lot lately about how little she was when you died. Seven. First grade. Little, little. I remember that around that age she had a fear well up inside of her that hadn't been there before. Afraid to be upstairs by herself. Afraid to leave the house without her beloved blanket and piggy. Afraid of every single slightly scary Halloween costume. Truly afraid. I liken it to the fact that at the tiny age of seven she learned that not every story has a happy ending. People die. Bad stuff happens. She has slowly moved past that and barely even crawls in bed with us during a bad storm anymore. She's growing up so quickly.
This year, for her birthday, she wanted to upgrade from a twin to a full sized bed. Now that she doesn't have nearly as many toys in her room, I finally agreed. She's been wanting me to repaint her hot pink walls, but I just painted them three years ago, and I have absolutely no desire to paint those high walls ever again. And right now I am not paying someone to do it for me because there are so many other things that need to be done in this house than changing the color of Madalyn's walls. Then the thought occurred that I could paint her shorter walls a different color and leave the tall ones the same, and so we did. I did one wall this beautiful grey and the wall around her closet became a chalk board wall. I would have given all my earthly possessions to have a chalk board wall when I was little!!! It's so neat! I could still, even at my age, stay in there for hours doodling and erasing. So cool.
She picked out a cute (more mature) quilt set for her bed and we found cute sheets. We changed the whole look of the room with minimal effort and not much money. Next step is painting your old TV cabinet. I wanted to paint it when she first got it, but she wouldn't hear it. Now she's okay with it, so I will paint it the same grey as her wall and either brush over it lightly with white or antique with some glaze I already have. Just have to decide which way to go with that. I'm leaning toward the antiquing glaze.
I am working on a lot of little things in the house. All the trim needs to be painted. I am planning on painting the ugly oak banister. The kitchen needs painting again. So many things need to be done. I'd love to have all this nasty carpet ripped up, but that will be a major project that will need major money to be done. So it will have to wait. One thing at a time. At least paint is immediately gratifying.
The other day I felt this urge to call you. I think I even literally thought for a second, "I need to call mom." I hadn't thought that in so long. I feel a little lost right now, like I'm just wandering and wandering with no place to sit and rest. There's no soft place right now. No place that doesn't require work and effort. I would just like to lie down and sleep for a while, but that's not an option for me.
My mind keeps going back to the days after your brain surgery. You sort of hit the wall, had a little breakdown, which was incredibly unusual for you. In the midst of your tears, you told me that you missed your mama. I can hear your voice in my head right now, can recall every single word. You were going through perhaps the most difficult process of your entire life, and you just wanted your mama, even at your age of 64. I will never forget that moment as long as I live. And I can completely relate.
I just want my mama. The place where anything can be said and not judged at all. The place I could go to simply unload and let things go, release my emotions and fears without any worry of judgement or commentary. The person who looked at me as their child no matter how old I had become. That safe place where the comfort and love never changed even though everything else morphed around it. I miss that. I had that with you, and now it's gone.
Any good Southern Christian would say, "Well turn to God..." And that's fine and good. I can pray and pray and pray and read devotionals and the Scriptures, but I have certainly discovered in the last almost four years that nothing replaces a conversation with my mama. Nothing. And I keep looking for something that can maybe come close, but no such luck. Sometimes I can float on through life with minimal need, but other times I find myself longing for you. The latter is where I am now.
I've got this memory that keeps popping up for me, though, and it's hysterical. And maybe it's been forefront in my mind because I need a funny memory every now and again. Remember when we'd go shopping with Grandma Norris and she'd wander off in the store? We would search high and low to find her, and usually she'd be at the furtherest point in the store from where we originally started perusing a clearance rack of clothes. You and I would get so flustered with her for not telling us where she was going. During many a Saturday trip to the mall we spent more time looking for her than we did actually looking at whatever it was we went to the mall to look for. Man I miss those days. I'd love to just have one more Saturday with the both of y'all. But I know if I had one more, it still wouldn't be enough. It would never be enough.
I'm typically the big girl. I can usually keep my wits about me, pull my girl pants up and move on. I almost always seem like I've got myself together and in full control. But sometimes, mama, I'd just like someone to look at me and realize that it's not always true, that deep inside there's this broken place that will never mend. That person was you for 35 years, and now you're gone. I am doing the best I can without you, I really am. I'm being the best wife and mom I can possibly be. But I just feel like I need a little break right now. Just a moment to gather myself.