It hit fast and hard this morning walking through Target. I was there to get a gift for a baby shower... how much fun is that? I haven't been to a baby shower in so long that I just wanted to peruse the baby aisles and soak it all in, all the things that had changed and the ones that had stayed the same. Of course I needed a bag and a card to complete the gift, so you know where that led me. The card section.
And there they were, a college aged young woman, a middle aged man, and a 30 something mother with a young girl with her. The little girl was the only one who said a word aloud of the four bellied up to the card bar. "Look at this one.... read this one, mama.... what do you think of this one?" She had to be around five, so you can imagine her little sweet voice (most likely sweet to me who doesn't have a five year old anymore, but no doubt slightly aggravating to the mama). The man looked like any other man searching for a card, somewhat distracted but intent on completing his mission. The college aged young woman was thoughtful, holding a possibility in her hand while picking up other options and reading them to find out if they were worthy. She reminded me of myself. I assume she's pretty close to her mother (perhaps mother figure... whoever she was buying a card for) by the way she had closed her mind off to the rest of the world around her.
I wanted to tell them. Tell them that there will be a day, hopefully far away, when walking past this common scene would cause pain to well up inside them. I had no idea just five years ago it would be my last time to buy you a card. But I am sure someone passed me as I looked and had a similar thought as I did this morning. And part of me doesn't want to let people in on how much pain and grief comes with losing your mama, especially if you're as close as you and I were. Sometimes it's best to be blindsided by reality, to not know what's about to hit you, to live in the dark where loss is not even the most remote of possibilities. We're silly like that, we humans. We walk around pretending that nothing will ever change. Until it does. And then we preach about living in the moment and making the most of each day. And other silly humans look at us and think, "That won't happen to me." And the cycle continues.
This is my fourth Mother's Day without you. Scott asked me the other night what I'd like to do on Sunday, and I looked at him and battled within my mind whether to speak the truth aloud or not. I decided on the honesty and let him know I wanted to plant my chubby self in one of the pool chairs, drink a lot, and wait on Monday to come. Isn't that awful? You always taught me not to wish my life away, and I tell my kids the same thing. But there are days, so heavy and blue, that I can't help but wish them to be over.
This is a tough time of year. We just had the anniversary of your death. Now Mother's Day. I feel terrible for my brothers who have to see all the flowers and cards and commercials and know they can't get you anything. At least I am actually a mother myself, so there is a little redeeming value in the day for me. But I still wish it wasn't even a thing. And that makes me feel bad for thinking it, but it's just the truth.
The past couple of weeks, I've thought about you even more than normal. We've had a bird's nest under our deck. The mama bird built it right on top of our outdoor speaker, which thankfully we don't use much this year or the poor baby birds may grow up hearing impaired. Anyway... I watched her sit atop her eggs for a couple of weeks. I've been reading this book that happens to be forever long, so I got in the pattern of coming out to sit and read in the late afternoon. I could tell when they had hatched, of course, because poor mama bird couldn't even perch still for longer than five seconds. She was in and out, in and out. A few days in, I could finally see the tiny beaks peeking up and hear the screeching sounds they made. They seemed to literally double in size almost every day. Maybe that's a stretch, but I could tell from day to day that they were growing quite rapidly. I listened one afternoon to the biggest one learn to chirp, and by the next day, the others had learned, too. I watched mama swoop around showing them how the whole flying thing worked. And I honestly prayed I could see them fly, as stupid of a prayer request that is and though I never pray for silly things like that. I felt like they were my little baby birds, and I just wanted to have the experience of seeing it all, from start to finish. And so I was lucky enough to see it on Wednesday afternoon. I had come out to read a little earlier than normal, but once it happened, I knew why.
It happened so fast. The one I thought was the biggest, definitely the leader of the nest, the one who learned to chirp first, started fluttering his wings and moved out of the clump of birdies and perched by himself. I muted the TV to take a video, and the next thing I knew, he flew (as clumsily as it looked, it was flying) and bumped into the the gutter downspout. I don't think he ever hit the ground, but he started flailing in midair this way and that way, and I was so afraid he'd fall. But he pulled it together and made it to the top of our umbrella on the pool deck. The other three just took off together seemingly effortlessly landing on the top of the fence. I have no idea if that was the very first time they flew, but they haven't been back to to nest since. Of course, I cried. And every afternoon, watching them just made me want to talk to you. Oh you would have enjoyed watching those birds even more than I did.
The whole process reminded me so much of the period of time around your death. It reminded me of the greatest blessing that has come from your loss. It was during those hardest times that I learned God would give me everything I need for every single day, no matter what I faced. He provided strength in some of the most difficult moments, peace in the darkest of hours, comfort that I never knew was possible this side of heaven. He gave me every little thing I needed to get through every day while you were sick, while you were dying, and after you were gone. And He continues to shower me with His Grace four years later. It's something that some people never figure out, especially not before they hit the age of 40. But I have that. I have that confidence, and no one can take it from me. And if that's the only thing I gained from such a terrible loss, I can live with that. I would rather live with you beside me, but since that's not possible, I will take the gifts that God has given me and relish in them.
I miss you dearly but in different ways here lately than I did even a year ago. I'd like to talk to you about raising these kids in this crazy world. I'd like to just laugh with you and simply be your daughter. But these letters will have to do for now.
Happy Mother's Day in heaven. I hope you're surrounded by beautiful flowers and the laughter of your own mama and sister. I love you dearly. I always will.