Friday, March 25, 2016

Mama,

Today is Good Friday.  The day of the crucifixion.  The beginning of the Easter story.  I am overwhelmingly thankful for those events that occurred so very long ago.  Because of the death and resurrection of Christ, you are alive with Him in heaven.  But there's this part of me that's so resentful of this weekend since you're gone.  Not of the real Easter story, the saving truth of it all, but rather of the modern version.  The church service, the egg hunts, the family lunches and matching families in pastels with smiling faces.  None of that exists in my life.

I've only been to church maybe three times since your death.  It's beyond difficult.  I can't even explain it.  It's past my normal not-so-fond-of-organized-religion thing and more toward a physically painful experience.  I grew up sitting next to you in church.  In fact, I probably sat beside you in 95% of the church services I've attended in my entire life.  I listened to you sing.  I watched you fill out your sermon notes in that distinctive penmanship that is gone forever.  And, now, when I go, I want to weep the moment I walk in the door.  I don't know if that will ever pass.  I don't know if something that deeply woven into your spirit can ever fade away.  Perhaps with time it eases, but like grief, I doubt it ever goes away.

And the Easter Sunday thing, the lovely pictures of lovely families and lovely experiences... well, there's none of that here.  There's no family gathering.  There's no pulling together on either side of our families.  If you were alive, you would pull us together.  But you're gone.  I've tried having Easter Sunday here, but it just doesn't feel right.  I feel like I am only doing it to have something to do, to fill the void.  So I've decided not to fool with it.

I'm in this transition phase, Mama.  I spent some of the past four years trying to recreate what you would do, and I found that it doesn't fill the void.  Doing something totally different doesn't do the trick either.  So where I am now is trying to accept that you're gone, that things will never be the same nor will they ever be the way I would like them to be.  I didn't realize how many expectations I had for what my family life would look like until you were gone.  I'm constantly comparing what my holidays look like compared to the holidays of my childhood, and I am disappointed every single time.  I'm trying so hard to let go of those ideals, but it's proving to be difficult.  I want my kids to have what I had, grandparents that were involved in everything, holiday dinners, back to school shopping, and just having those extra hands to love on them.  But it's like we're starting from scratch here... a brand new family with no extensions on either side.  We are on our own.

This acceptance part feels lonely and sad, but I feel stronger than I have in a long time.  I applied to the University of Montevallo and was accepted for the fall semester.  I haven't been this excited about anything so long!  I still have no idea how it will all work out, how the financing aspect will play out, and how my brain will open back up wide enough to handle all the information that I will need to absorb.  And it's been so long since I've written a paper or cited works or researched anything.  I picture myself sitting in some classroom surrounded by a bunch of young people with their laptops sipping lattes and staring at me as I jot notes with a #2 pencil in legal pad.  So when I start getting nervous about all the logistics, I just stop myself and think about the fact that I am finally going back to school!  That I want to be there!  That I will be learning again and finding a place for me.  It's all for me.  I haven't done anything for myself like this ever.  The first time I went to college, I think it was more about making you happy than it was about me.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  But now... now I am convinced there's a place for me out there.  That I can use my brain and my natural gifts to help other people.  And that is exciting to me.

When I opened the acceptance letter, you were the first person that came to my mind.  You always wanted me to finish.  You always encouraged me.  You believed in me more than I believed in myself. But now I am learning to step into the fear of this whole thing, the fear of sitting in that classroom and not understanding what's going on, the fear of feeling lost among a sea of kids young enough to come from my womb, the fear of falling short.  If I don't step into it, I will never succeed.  If I don't start believing in myself the way you did, then I won't ever find out what lies ahead for me.

I've missed you being that person who could ground me, talk my fears and insecurities down.  Living without that has been the biggest hurdle.  I kept looking to other people to replace what you were to me.  But what I'm finally figuring out is that no one can and no one ever will.  I have to find it within myself.  And it's there because you built it within me.  Your words are forever in my mind echoing your faith and belief in me.  Instead of expecting others to be you for me, I have to stand on my own feet and be the woman you raised me to be.

I'm so thankful that I had you as a mom.  Sure do wish I had you longer, but I will have to be grateful for what I did have.

I miss you, Mama.  And I will forever.

I love you.