Posts Tagged With: saying goodbye

saying goodbye to Nana

Family and friends gathered together in Georgia on a hot Saturday in August to say goodbye to Husband N’s precious mother.

In the front of the church, a gorgeous spray of roses (Husband N’s fave) carnations (Nana’s fave) and white daisies (Baby K’s birth month flower) around the urn. An American flag folded into a perfect triangle white stars on blue. (Nana served in the US Navy) Photos lined up along the communion rail, one of which was Nana with Donny Osmond. She loved the Osmonds, especially Donny and Marie, and meeting him was one of her happiest moments.

Friends and family spoke, telling stories through laughter and tears, sharing love, taking us on the journey of her life. My own daughter saying she didn’t simply get a mother in law, she got another momma.

Baby K sat mostly between me and her Aunt Gaga, but did walk across the aisle to her parents a couple of times.
The Navy color guard struggled a bit with the flag, but in the end got it done properly and presented it to Husband N.
Apparently during the extended flag folding situation Baby K wanted to come back to me, but her mom wouldn’t let her so she bit her! Thing 1 had a big Baby K mouth-shaped bruise on her forearm.
She was fascinated by the hymnals. “Books with words AND music!” brought her much excitement. She was keen to stack them up on her lap and then share them with Thing 2 and me. It shook out that Aunt Gaga and Baby K had the hymnals and I got the bible. Thing 2 whispered that Baby K knew what was up and the books ended up in the right place.

We celebrated her life with music from Spirit in the Sky to Butterfly Kisses, songs specifically requested by Nana, to Elvis singing In the Garden and Peace in the Valley (a song I’ve always wanted for my own funeral)
During Butterfly Kissses, Baby K got up and danced. That girl was vibing so! I watched her and wept, knowing her Nana would have loved that!

So many tears shed.
So much laughter.
Unbelievable amount of love.
We celebrated the life of Baby K’s grandmother with everything we had.
It was a mighty find shindig.

Categories: death, loss, love | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

standing in the rain, and waiting for the stream to settle

Today would have been my dad’s sixty-ninth birthday and I stood in the rain scattering his ashes in a place he loved to be.
I did this because his oldest and dearest friend came from Colorado to perform this act and he is the one who chose the date. He felt it was a good way to honor my dad, the anniversary of his birth. I’m not sure how I feel about this.
I did it because it was what my dad wanted, and he wanted his friend involved. I’d known this for years so I had plenty of time to prepare for it. They were cops together, I’ve know him since I was a teeny little thing, but you know how that goes, he’s close with my dad and I grow up and move on.
My heart wasn’t in it really, I was just going through the motions. But I’m OK with that because it wasn’t about me it was about my dad’s friend…and my dad. I am a good daughter.
I’m tired now it’s all over. It was cold and rainy which wasn’t physically comfy and it was emotionally exhausting. I want to get in the bathtub with my ipad for a bit of soaking and Netflix.

On the Thing 2 front, I finally had a good long conversation with my friend and mentor last night. She asked what my heart was telling me to do. I told her my gut said, make her come back, my heart is tired of fighting and my head pretty much wants the other two to get it together. She laughed. She reminded me I’m a “gut truster”. I agreed.
We talked a bit more and she told me I had been tromping back and forth in the stream and it was muddy and unclear, that perhaps I should sit by the stream and let the sediment fall to the bottom and wait for the water to clear. (Oh how I love this analogy!)
We talked a bit longer and she just wondered aloud where I was. I took a deep breath and said: I’m going to let it go and leave her where she is.
I feel good about that decision because instead of focusing on her, I decided to focus on me. I’m going crazy trying to decide what to do what’s best for her life and completely ignoring what’s best for my own.

This morning I had the most freeing thought.
I’m so worried about Thing 2’s future but I didn’t take into consideration that teenagers live in the now. So if she’s sad, lonely and uncomfortable here in this home, how successful can her future be?
I know her dad won’t hold her accountable, but perhaps she really can live happily in the now and STILL have a relatively successful future.
And that might be as positive as I’ll ever feel about it.
I lived in that horrible situation for years, trapped, scared and feeling unsafe. It hurt me physically and emotionally. If she FEELS safe, etc. then isn’t that actually “what’s best” for her?
I believe she stands a better chance here but I’m only going to focus on me and my future.
She’ll sort it out eventually. I believe I’ve done a good enough job raising her to have that faith.

And that’s how this portion of the story ends.
She will be responsible for ‘cleaning up her own mess’ and building her future and I’ll focus on my own future and just love her.

Categories: death, loss, love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

hearth-fires and holocausts

Thing 2 is here!
It’s been really positive and she’s enthusiastic about starting over. She decided she was ready to go back to proper brick and mortar high school. (This was a difficult choice for her as she has to be a junior again instead of being a senior. But she made it and she’s feeling strongly about it.)
We went back to school clothes shopping and got everything she needed from skivvies to sweaters. Shopping is interesting with Thing 2, I always learn something new about her and we have hilarious dressing room conversations!
She got a job today and a brand new do. Things are certainly going her way.
We go tomorrow to register her for classes. She’s picked out what she’s going to wear and has a notebook and pens in her new school bags.
It has been VERY positive. I overheard her tell someone she was so glad she was here and it was a good choice.

And then…
She just came downstairs with tears in her eyes and told me she was going to bed. I asked if she was OK and she just shook her head. I asked if I could help and she shook her head. She headed back up the steps and I asked if she needed to talk about it. She called back, “It won’t help.”

My initial inclination is to rush to her and work my ass off to make it better for her. But something strange is happening. It occurred to me that she needed to feel whatever it is she’s feeling. She needs to mourn the loss of her friends. She needs to shed that old layer in order to feel at home in her new environment.
She can cope with sadness. She can cope with feeling stressed about all the change. She can even cope, albeit not really well, with the anxiety of starting a new school.
It is extremely difficult for me to “sit this one out”, but I can’t fix this for her, I can only be available when she needs me.

She’s anxious about meeting people. “Cool people, not because they’re popular, but because they look like cool people I’d like to hang out with.”
She’s a bit of a hipster, that Thing 2 of mine. She wants to hang out with quirky people like her, but not end up in social Siberia. She doesn’t want to be popular, she wants to be real. She likes to play D & D. She likes eclectic music. She’s got a sassy personal fashion style. She wants to be engaged while functioning through her own special brand of awkward.

I want to go up and get all snuggly in her bed with her and feel as though I’m helping her feel better. I think that’s about me.
I trust her to sort it.
On the other hand, she’s been left to sort it for the last year all by herself.
So, I can offer love. I can listen. I can encourage.

When I think of my baby, I am reminded of Jimmy Stewart’s beautiful words in The Philadelphia Story: “You’re lit from within. You’ve got fires banked down in you, hearth-fires and holocausts. You’re made out of flesh and blood. That’s the blank, unholy surprise of it. You’re the golden girl. Full of life and warmth and delight.
I believe there is a part of her that realizes this about herself.
I aim to make sure of that.

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saying goodbye

I survived the twenty two days between the death of my dad and his memorial service.
I celebrated YBW’s birthday two days after he died, the arrival of Thing 2 on Mother’s Day, my own birthday the following day, Thing G’s confirmation the end of the same week, his birthday the very next day, the arrival of my estranged brother from the west coast, the arrival of Thing 1 and her fiancé two days later, and finally the memorial service yesterday.

Sundance says I’m a big brave girl and need new shoes…I got new shoes for the service, but I don’t think that’s what she had in mind…shoe shopping is on the agenda.

Yesterday was a very difficult day and the love I received truly held me up when I needed it most. Friends and family who came to grieve the absence of my dad from their lives were there because of the love they had for him. Friends and family came to support me in my grief because they love me. Family I have because of YBW, his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew, who are mine now too, Things C and G’s mom and her husband, they all came because we are family now. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of my dearest friends from my ‘old’ preschool teaching days sneak into the back of the church, she came because she loves me…that’s the moment my tears began to flow.

The service was actually quite lovely, when I spoke of my dad, there was laughter and tears and love in that room. I hope I made him proud.
The pastor mentioned Daddie told him he was going to be disco dancing up the aisle after his hip healed…that will never happen, but I feel sure he’s dancing his ass off wherever he is.

I am exhausted but peaceful.
I am lifted up by love.
I am glad it’s over.


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what I’ve decided to say about my dad

Even though we call him something different, we’re here to celebrate his life and the impact he had on us. I’m going to celebrate my version of him by telling stories.

The first real memory I have of my Daddie is sitting in his lap at Great-Grandma’s funeral, we sat behind a kind of sheer green curtain separated from the non-family who were at the service. I remember sitting in his lap and playing with his fingers. When I think of his hands, I think of how big his fingers were. His hands were strong and capable and built so many things, but they were also gentle, I remember him holding my hand when I was a little girl, also as a grown up woman, oh how I loved seeing those hands hold my babies.
Sometimes those hands would bust our butts…
I remember a particular incident involving my cousins, C and L, my brother E, and me. We were in the basement at Grandma’s house and the boys had the sword (Why four children under the age of 12 were allowed to play with a sword is still beyond me.) but the boys had the sword and were hitting the metal pole that supported the I beam, the cool part was that it was making an awesome clanking sound. I distinctly remember watching them and thinking we were going to get in trouble. L begged for a turn and they just kept ignoring her. But then I heard feet rapidly crossing the house above us heading for the stairs and that was the moment the boys decided to give the sword to L. And as Daddie burst through the door there was L, sword raised above her head making a huge battle cry and attacking the pole.
They boys thought they were clever, but L was the only one of us who didn’t get her ass beat that day. (I’m not sure why I got it, I just sat there…perhaps it’s because I didn’t stop them.)

When I was a teenager, Daddie was the “cool” dad and friends liked to hang out over our house. I never got that…but does any kid ever? Some friends and I were downstairs watching a movie and I realized one of the angel fish was floating in the aquarium so I shouted upstairs for Daddie to come get it, he came down, reached into the aquarium grabbed the dead fish and waved it around as though it was saying goodbye to all the other fish. My friends though he was hilarious, but I was just mortified.
Another time I came home and he was standing there with my bra in his hand: so I found this under the couch cushion downstairs.
Thinking quickly on my feet I replied: I took it off watching tv last night.
I suspected he knew I was lying, but was relieved when he went with me on it.
It was hard being the teenage daughter of a police officer…there wasn’t much I could get away with…and boys knew he had a gun…

When he taught me to drive stick he was convinced I was capable, but shouted at me the entire time until I finally gave up, stopped the truck in the middle of the street, pulled the emergency break, got out, slammed the door and walked back down the hill to home. We laughed about that as soon as he got home, I laughed as I wrote this. The stubborn apple didn’t fall far from the stubborn tree.

My Daddie loved being a grandfather. He loved spending time with his granddaughters, and when he couldn’t spend time with them he loved hearing about their exploits. He always asked about the girls, and was excited to hear what was going on in their lives. I found a note Thing 2 wrote to him four years ago when she was in the eighth grade, taped to the wall beside his desk. She decorated the card with tons of animal stickers because she and her grandfather both love animals. She actually wrote the card because she got new address labels and was excited to use them. When I brought the card home to her she was flooded with the memory of making and sending it to him, and she was so touched he kept it right near him where he could see it for so long.

Y’all know how much my dad loved his dogs.
Together, the six of them who went before him welcomed their daddy home when he left this world for the next. Three others were left behind but I have faith they will be reunited in time.
I’ve heard all kinds of stories of their walks and driving around and people looking forward to seeing them in the back of the truck. He loved taking them places and showing them off, they loved the attention they got in return. He was a spectacular dog dad and those dogs were so spoiled with love, but never to the point of rotten. He wouldn’t have had that. They were so well behaved, he oftentimes mused he would have liked for E and me to have been so well behaved.

Daddie adored his neighbors, and loved his community. I recently learned he was referred to as the Mayor of Reva.
Oh how that fits him! He was the first to make sure everyone was well sorted and had what they needed and he didn’t hesitate to offer a hand when someone he cared about needed help. He was proud to live there on the corner where he could keep watch over his neighbors and friends.
Weren’t we all so lucky to have such a man looking out for us?

My dad had so much love in him. He didn’t know exactly how to show it sometimes, but he loved each of us the best way he knew how.
His fear of being unloved was so great that he kept a secret for most of his life, when he finally told that secret, the way he loved changed. He was finally able to give and receive love with his entire self, and what a joy that was to behold!
When he told me he was gay, I told him I wasn’t surprised and if he was happy and had love in his life that was all I wanted for him.
When I told the girls, Thing 2 expressed she knew something was different, the last time she saw him, but didn’t realize what it was. She was glad he trusted us enough to share such an important truth. Thing 1 told me she was so proud of him, and she asked if it was bad if she said she thought she actually loved him even more after she knew. My response to her was how could it be bad to love someone more than you already did.
I was proud of Daddie for telling his biggest truth and embracing the love that came at him because of it. He was so frightened that he would be judged and become suddenly unloved I don’t think he could believe how much love and support was offered him.

The last time YBW and Daddie and I had lunch together, he was teasing us because we’re “so cute” together, that we’re so good for each other, that he hoped to find a love like we have discovered. He talked about how I was the truest me with YBW, that he hadn’t seen this Robynbird since I was a little girl, and he was sure that I was as wonderful for YBW as he is for me.
But then, he leaned across the table and told YBW: you know, I’m an ex-cop and if you hurt her, I can make it so your body is never found.
I said: DADDIE!
But YBW looked at him and smiled: you don’t scare me.
And my dad laughed, because he knew they had that moment of perfect understanding, where they both loved me and it was good.
I wished so much for him to find that special person to love him for who he was and help him be the best him he could be.
Perhaps for him that truest love is between him and his God.

I’ve experienced so many feelings in the last twenty two days. The initial shock and disbelief, and then the beautiful agony of seeing his body before they took it from his home, a blessing for which I will be eternally grateful. The pressure in my chest when the realization hit me, the pain of having to share this news with the people I love most, as well as people I hardly know. The love and support that has come to me and my family is overwhelming. Moments of remembering which cause wild cackling laughter, and those that bring the flood of tears. Helping my babies grieve the loss of their grandfather, and allowing them to help me grieve my own loss. The joy of reconnecting with my brother and feeling awful that this is the reason why. I have cried silent tears and huge gut wrenching sobs. I am an orphan now. It doesn’t seem fair. I’m selfish, I want my Daddie and he’s never coming back. My sadness has created physical pain, the exhaustion seems never ending…
All these feelings churning inside me as I grieve the loss of my dad, but one feeling has come up more than any. One feeling surrounds all the others.
I feel peaceful.
I am peaceful in my grief.

My dad lived his life. He loved and learned and lost.
He went from this life so quickly, just the way he would have wanted.
He wanted nothing but love and peace. And that’s what he has now.
We will continue to grieve, we are selfish, I am selfish, I want to have him here with me.
But he will always be with me. Because we loved each other and that love will always be ours.
That love brings me peace.
I wish each of you the peace I feel.

Categories: death, loss, love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

this sucks

This has quite possibly been the longest week of my life, and I am absolutely exhausted.

The business of death is peculiar. I did all that business this week and now I’m in a holding pattern. They haven’t been able to cremate the body because the PCP hasn’t signed the death certificate. We can’t have the memorial service until May 24 because the church is booked both this weekend and next. Hurry up and wait…me no likey.

Thing 2 was supposed to arrive yesterday afternoon but was violently ill in the car on the way to the train station yesterday morning. (Is it wrong I got a bit of sick pleasure she barfed in her dad’s car?) Her dad and I are meeting at the half way point on Sunday. At least she and I will be together on a crazy road trip for mother’s day and she’ll be here for my birthday the next day. She and Girlie Thing and Sundance and I are going to get pedicures and out to lunch on my birthday, I’m very happy about that.

Sundance and I ate lunch at the delicious Greek place yesterday instead of going together to the train station to get Thing 2. When she left me at home, I thanked her for babysitting me. I feel like she and YBW have been babysitting me quite a bit.

YBW has been so patient with me and so kind and loving, he went with me to sign the autopsy and cremation papers Monday, he chose not to see Daddie’s body, that was something I did all by myself.
We went to get things we needed from the safety deposit box at the bank and then to my dad’s house to try and find his wallet. I packed up perishable foodstuff and YBW said: It feels like we’re stealing.
I said: It all belongs to me now so we’re not stealing, but it sucks.

I’ve said that so much this past week. It sucks. Those words cannot begin to convey the meaning of the way I feel, but they’re the words that seem most appropriate.

There are moments I feel numb and moments I feel sad and moments I feel almost normal. Today is a numb and sad all mixed together kind of day.

Normal will come back to roost. In the meantime it really just sucks.

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a good daughter

I’ve been sitting in hospital all day waiting…waiting…waiting…
(Perhaps I’ve mentioned patience is not my most marked characteristic?)

I’m waiting because that’s what good daughters do. A good daughter waits while her dad has his hip replaced.
I am a good daughter.

A good daughter also identifies her dad’s body for the sheriff’s department before they can remove it from his home.
I am a good daughter.

I started this post on Tuesday while sitting in hospital…I came back to it Sunday after the entire world changed.

My dad was found dead in his bed Friday morning by the home health physical therapist that came to do his initial intake after he came home from hospital. When I got there, she was long gone but the sheriff deputies were waiting for me.
When I asked if I could see him the first response was to ask if I really wanted to see him and then they told me I wasn’t allowed to touch anything.
(My hackles immediately go up, I’m thinking: that’s my Daddie I’ll touch him if I damn well please.)
They tell me they have to stand in the doorway and watch me to make sure I don’t disturb anything. (Oh, I’m going to punch somebody in their mouth before this is over.)
The older sheriff’s deputy, who actually knew my dad, says: it’s OK sweetie, you can touch him.

What I wanted to do was crawl into bed with him and lie there for a little while before they took him away…but I was afraid that would make the deputies poop their pants. I touched his hand and leaned over and lay my head on his chest for a moment and then  stood up, looked at him, whispered: oh, Daddie, then I left the room and didn’t go back in until I was finally alone in the house.

I cannot express how grateful I am that I had that teeny moment with him. I was able to see that he didn’t suffer, that he looked peaceful…
I have never felt less like a grown up than I did on Friday, but I’ve never done more grown up things than I did on Friday.

I don’t know what I would have done without Sundance or YBW on Friday.
Poor YBW…I called him when I got the call and he was unavailable…my plan was to leave a message that sounded something like: Please call me when you get a chance.
When I heard his voice on the outgoing message, I completely lost it and screeched: My dad died! Please call me back!
Sundance and I were texting back and forth before I got the call…so when I couldn’t get YBW I called her, when she didn’t answer…I texted: Please answer the phone please.
Before I could call her again, she called me and what followed was chaos.

Thing 2 said: Oh Mommy, I wish I could hug you. I told her: I will get to hug you next week when you get here. (She’s coming for my birthday.)
Thing 1 was beside herself with grief and I couldn’t hold her.
Thing G was so kind to me, he never stopped touching me Friday night, with little pats on my arm or leg or back, and so many hugs. His kindness was truly overwhelming. That sweet little boy took such good care of me when I needed to hold my own babies, he’s my baby too now. Thing 1 was so happy Thing G was taking such good care of her mommy, she told me to please thank him and give him big hugs for her.

I go tomorrow to sign the papers for a private autopsy to determine cause of death and then must decide whether or not to pursue legal action…I am not that girl.
I will also be able to spend a little more time with my Daddie’s body.
My God, I’m exhausted.

I am now an orphan…but I’m still a good daughter.

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missing Mommie

I’ve been experiencing above average feelings of missing my mom the past week or so. I find it sits rather ill with me, this feeling of missing her. I had a…peculiar relationship with her to say the least…with an entire baggage carriage of unresolved issues accumulated over my lifetime. The thing I need to remind myself the most is that these bags would still be packed and loaded in the baggage carriage even if she was still living.
Mommie was not inclined to examine or converse any subject she found distasteful, which could include anything from how to apply eyeliner to why she sent me to live with my absentee dad when I was 15.
YBW always asks questions like, why didn’t you ask her about these things? I’m like, DUDE! What part of me saying she wouldn’t answer a direct question if it somehow displeased her did you not understand?
Oh did I ask questions…like when Thing 1 was in kindergarten and would come home to her mommy and baby sister every day as opposed to when I was in kindergarten and wore a key around my neck on a ribbon and came home to an empty house because I had no dad and a mom who worked fulltime to support my little brother and me.
So one day I said to her: You were really brave, that must have been really scary for you to be so far away at work when I was home by myself in kindergarten.
She replied: I did what I had to do.
Me: Was that hard for you?
Mommie: I had no choice.
Me: No, I guess you didn’t, but I can’t imagine Thing 1 coming home by herself in the middle of the day and not worrying about her. I’m not sure I could be that brave.
Mommie: I knew you were capable.
Me: But you didn’t worry, you weren’t scared for me?
Mommie: I had no choice. I knew you could handle it.
Me: Well, I think you were really brave.
Mommie: I didn’t have a choice.
(Notice anything interesting about this conversation? Like, oh I don’t know, it’s completely one sided?)

Or when I was 17, the time I got a call from a church mom whose little girl I babysat, she wondered if I was still willing to sit for her even though I lived so far away at my dad’s house now…at the end of the call, she asked me if I was excited for my mom… I replied, about what? Then she did that age old dance called the “hem-haw” and finally told me that my brother had stood up in church the week before to share a joy…the joy that his mom was to marry another church member. (I didn’t know the phrase WTF then…but I can assure you I experienced the sensation.)
So I called over Grandaddy’s (my former home) and got my brother on the phone: Anything interesting you want to share?
And for the second time that day I was treated to the “hem-haw” dance…until finally I said: E, I’m not mad just tell me what’s going on…I know what happened in church on Sunday.
He whispered: they made me swear not to tell you. Then out loud he said: Mommie just got home you want to talk to her?
His face must have told the story because she got on the phone: I wanted to tell you in person.
Me: But not before you let E tell the whole congregation. You can’t pick up the phone?
Mommie: I wanted to tell you in person.
Me: But you didn’t. Who are you even marrying?
Mommie told me and I was only vaguely aware of this human being…then she decided I should come over for that weekend and then I could meet him. And then she dropped the big bomb…she wanted me to be her maid of honor when they got married.
To her it was OK that I was in the dark, E knew…E was permitted to develop a relationship with this man…E was asked for his opinion and approval before she decided to say yes. E was to “give her away” to this man. But I was not even given the consideration of a phone call. (I suspect I sound petulant, I didn’t feel petulant or even slighted, I just didn’t understand.)

And the time I dared to ask the most important question…seeking the answer to the event that changed my entire life. (I asked this as an adult.)
Why did you send me to Daddy’s?
And she said: I thought you needed your father.
Me: The father who left me when I was five?
To which she said: NOTHING.
So I went on: What about Grandaddy? What about E? Did they have a say? Why didn’t you talk to me? Did you even talk to Daddy about it or did you just decree it? How do you just kick someone to the curb like that?
To which she said: NOTHING.
Me: Mommie, don’t you think I should finally be allowed to understand what happened?
Mommie: No. It’s over now so there’s no need to bring it up.

All I know is how it happened, after spending a week of so at my dad’s the summer after my freshman year, I called my mom and said, I’m ready to come home, will you get me on your way home from work?
All she said was: you’re not coming home.
She unceremoniously packed up by belongings in big black garbage bags and had them waiting on the front porch for me to pick up. I wasn’t even allowed to go into the house. I never got to hug my Grandaddy or E.

Daddy has since told me that she called him and said: if you don’t take her I’m sending her to a home.
There is a part of me that considers this could be the truth, but my dad has an affinity towards exaggeration so I’m not sure I’ll ever know.

My mom was sick for a long time before she told anyone. She was hospitalized for 18 days with pneumonia before she would “let” her husband call me to tell me they found cancerous cells in her lungs because “she didn’t want to tell me unless they knew what it was”. She died seventeen days later. Seventeen days.
I was able to go see her, to be with her for a few precious days between the two phone calls. I was shocked to see her so sick, it was the first time in my life that her body was not bigger than mine, the first time in my life that I held her and she didn’t hold me. The first time in my life I realized how stupid I’d been thinking things would always be one way and never considering they would be a completely different way. I was desperately clinging to my concept of myself as child even though I am a parent, thinking that 40 simply wasn’t old enough to not have a mom anymore.
I was blessed with that time with her, none of our baggage was unpacked but I got to love her in an entirely new way. I was blessed because she was still her, I made a snide remark and she shot me her ‘mom look’ the one that used to frighten me so, but this time I laughed and said, you don’t scare me, you’re dying and you’re still trying to scare me into submission. She intensified the look and I smiled, at her leaned over and kissed her emaciated face and said softly, OK, maybe you scared me a little. She nodded her head and made a little “hmph” noise. She was Mommie even though she was sick and frail and could hardly breathe she was that terrible, tyrannical admiral who was the irrefutable boss of us all. She told me to go home and be a mommy.
(Things 1 and 2 had three nights of play at school, and their dad was going to his Goddaughter’s wedding out of state, and even though Thing 1 could cook and drive, nobody was comfortable with them being home alone.)

When I left my Mommie, I knew it was for the last time and I hugged and kissed her and laid in her bed all snuggled up to her and I said: I’m going to come back next week but if you’re not here, that’s OK. You go where you need to go because you’ll always be my Mommie and I’ll always love you. (And that was when the tears finally came even though I’d promised myself I wouldn’t cry in front of her.)
She put her hand on my face and said: Don’t cry, baby.
I took a big breath and held it for a moment before I said: You go where you’re going and when you get there you tell my Grandaddy I miss him.
She smiled and nodded and for the last time she said: I love you, baby.

That was Tuesday, I was planning to go back down on Sunday after the show closed and the Things dad came back from the wedding, but I got the call at 8 that morning from her husband who was so broken up I almost didn’t understand him. I was all ready to get in the car and go when he requested he be able to be with her alone when she died. I respected their love and did as he asked. This is the one thing in my life I regret. I know now I should have been there when she died. Not really for her, though partly, but for myself. I needed to do that for both of us, but didn’t because I was trying to be kind to him.

The one thing that comforts me about those two phone calls is YBW. I was up here for the weekend when I got the first call, and though I left messages for Sundance and the Things dad, YBW was the first person I told live. I was here for a few hours before he got home and already in bed, when he got into be he hugged me and kissed my hair, and I said: my mom has cancer. I can’t talk about it right now but I had to say it out loud.
He held me close and let me fall asleep.
He was down there with me the weekend the second call came, he had come to see the play and we were just waking up when the phone rang. He was helpless and I was manic, but he was there and I will always remember the importance of that.

My “Mommie” baggage carriage will never be unloaded but I’ve parked it in a siding so I don’t have to haul it around with me every single day. Sometimes I allow myself to go into it and rifle through the bags, because there is good stuff packed in there along with the not so good.
I miss her because I want to tell her things only she will find amusing, like how Good Guys is closed and the building is up for lease…Sundance and I are the only ones left who understand the humor in that. I want to tell her things about the Things. I want to share how wonderful my life with YBW is…she never even met him.
My two year old friends at school always reassure each other that mommies and daddies ALWAYS come back when they’re suffering separation anxiety. I agree with them saying: yes, mommies always come back. But I always think: except mine. (Perhaps you’re never too old to experience separation anxiety.)

I’m much older than my mom was when her mother died and I’m older than my beloved sister-in-law was when hers died. I guess I really miss the idea of having a mom.
That concept of comfort a mom provides. It’s funny because I would experience moments of “I want my Mommie” when she was still living even though I knew full well she wouldn’t bring me any comfort.
She was critical and bitter and she was closed off and she fought for constant control, but she loved me. I’d stake anything on that. She loved me and I felt and continue to feel it. I didn’t know her, I surely don’t understand her…but I love her.

I have worked to show my girls who I am, so they never experience the same feelings about me that I have about her.
Thing 1 was probably her favorite of her three granddaughters. Thing 1 was her first grandbaby and I believe the most precious, she loved Thing 2 and my niece Thing D, but I’ve never thought she loved them the way she loved Thing 1. One day, years ago while riding in the car Thing 1 asked me a biblical question which I could partially answer, then I suggested she call Grandmommy and ask her. She did right there in the car, got the rest of her answer and when she hung up she said: Grandmommy is awesome. I’m sorry you don’t really like her.
I said: I love Grandmommy very much it’s just a complicated relationship. I don’t really know her very well so it feels kind of hard to like her. She doesn’t really comfort me like I hope a mommy would comfort her child which is hard, but I know she loves me and I love her.
Thing 1 was quiet for a moment and then she said: I’m sorry Grandmommy doesn’t comfort you Mommy, because I can’t imagine how awful it would be if you didn’t comfort me. You always make me feel better when anything is bad. You’re very good at comforting.
Then almost under her breath she said: Thing 2 and I are really lucky you’re our mommy.

I realize this has been kind of chaotic jumping all over the place but that’s how it goes when I think about my mom. The feelings of love are inexplicably linked to the feelings of pain and disappointment. I have worked to raise my girls in a more authentic environment…one where they see that I’m a real person I’m not a dictator, though I’ve held ultimate veto power, I’m a real woman who was a real girl who made mistakes and good choices and tried to learn from each. I’m flawed and that doesn’t matter because I’ve worked to be the best mom I can be, to give them the best of me but not keep the worst from them. I have been more intimate with them than my mom probably ever was with anyone in her life. They know me…at least I hope they do, I’ve tried to help them learn why and how I’m me. Perhaps they have baggage carriages labeled with my name, but they know we can unpack them together or they’ve been given the tools to unpack them by alone. Perhaps.

I’d like to miss my mom in a less painful way. I’d like to just miss her because I’m selfish and no longer have her in my life. But that isn’t how it is for me. I miss her for every opportunity we lost to become close, I miss her for every time she chose to “protect me” instead of trust me.
I miss her for all the silliness we experienced together, dancing to Elvis records when I was a tiny girl, the crazy ER doctor when I broke my fingers, the infamous road trip involving cows, changing clothes while driving, and Lucy Ricardo’s saxafifatronaphonovich, or the penis shaped popsicle mold she just had to have because she was amused by it.
I miss her for the moment she actually did comfort me, when she held me in her lap in the rocking chair when my beloved kitty of 16 years died.
I miss her for the relationship she didn’t let us have…and for the one we did have.

I’m indulging myself by feeling sad, by missing her.
She wouldn’t have the patience for this. She would yank me up and hiss in my ear: stop this! Be strong. Keep your head down and just go.
I fight the impulse to say those words to myself. I’ve learned I need to be talked to differently. I’ve learned it’s acceptable to indulge myself. I keep my emotions under constantly tight control because that’s what I was taught. But I asked why one time too many and learned only I could answer that.
So occasionally I indulge myself and open the baggage carriage and spend time unpacking…I let the tears come. I allow myself to feel every little thing I feel I accept these feelings and honor them. Then I pack everything back up in what I image are beautiful antique steamer trunks and gorgeous old traveling bags then lock the baggage carriage behind me and just go.
(It is not lost on me she would be horrified I’ve written all this, but she would enjoy the train carriage analogy and it makes me smile.)

Categories: death, loss, love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

lunch at El Pobs

Went to lunch with my former husband today, it was fun and bittersweet all in one fell swoop.
We ate Mexican food (I drank a margarita) and talked about random day to day things…job stuff and practical stuff, but mostly we talked about Thing 1 and Thing 2 and what it’s like to be their parents. We discussed how it will be as we move forward and parent from two entirely different physical places. We discussed faults (without any real blame) for behaviors and actions specific to Thing 1, and he apologized. We talked about how it will be to trade Thing 2 back and forth over 500 miles and that it will most likely be a very good experience for her.

We’ve been lucky to remain close even though we’re no longer a couple, but I believe it’s because we were friends before we were a couple to begin with…and actually, we were more best friends who raised kids together than anything else and that’s just fine with me.
Now this is not to say we didn’t have bad times, because did we ever! And he is manipulative and passive aggressive and I am selfish, stubborn, and controlling…honestly I’m not sure how either one of us stood the other for as long as we did.
But the love is real and it won’t ever go away.

I’ve known him since I was seventeen years old, he knows all my history and I know all his. I’ve known him for over a quarter century, had his name for more than half my life. We have been through the good, the bad, the indifferent…it was hellish and it was lovely. I broke his heart when I chose to end our marriage, I’ll always be sorry for that but I will never be sorry for deciding to do what was best for both of us.

I’m glad he and I made those two Things. I’m glad I got to be a stay at home mommy for so long, to play and learn and love those awe inspiring girls. They are my babies, my heart, and I wouldn’t have them if it wasn’t for him.

I feel overjoyed knowing in four short days I’m going to be in my new life, with the man I love. I deserve every bit of the happiness I’m about to experience.
I wish the Things daddy his every heart’s happiness too, I hope he chooses to embrace it, whatever it may be.

Categories: divorce, love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

But where are the feels?

Everyone keeps asking if I’m “so excited”. Of course, I say I am but I’m sitting here this morning and I’m feeling pretty much anything but excited.
This morning I’m pouting because (I am not really a grown up) I can’t swing a visit with my friend and mentor before I leave next week.
I’m pouting, but I don’t feel petulant, I’m sad, I’m disappointed. My heart is heavy. But I had to make a responsible choice…a responsible financial choice. (Huh! Maybe I really am a grown up after all.)

I don’t feel excited. I don’t feel anything. (Well, obviously I feel pouty, I just said that.) But I want to feel excited! I want to be jumping up and down “pants peeing” excited!!
Am I so displaced at the moment I just can’t feel anything?
OR (this just occurred to me as I’m writing) is it that I’m suppressing my feelings, good and bad, so as not become overwhelmed by them? This actually seems more like me…so I’m not excited because I’m not feeling grief for the life I’m leaving, sadness at not being with Thing 2, anxiety about having to assimilate into YBW’s life, my new job, and how that might be.
(This is one of those moments I want to “Gibbs-slap” myself.) Instead, I’ll treat myself with kindness and love, and take the time to allow myself to feel all these things so I can begin to feel excited.
OH! WAIT! It’s because I don’t feel safe! I’m not settled! I’m struggling to write, I’m struggling to feel because I’m displaced…to quote Elvis Costello, “a man out of time”. (Except, of course I’m a girl and I’m not really out of time, I’m out of “home”…that song seemed applicable in my head so I went with it.)

And why am I judging how I “should” be feeling? Why don’t I just accept how it is?
I’m going to have to let myself feel or not feel as is natural!
I’m processing. I’m on the journey. I’m going to let go of the wheel for a split second and let it take me…
(Did I mention I’m a destination girl? The journey makes my ass twitch.)
I’m processing…I’ll feel what I feel when I feel it.
I think I’m excited somewhere in there…I know I’m ready for the next week to hurry up and go so I can get in my car with my precious Thing 2 and go home.
Yall get to come with me.

Categories: loss, love, me, peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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