Forty Years…

I would not be me if dates didn’t hold a special place in my heart. We had plans, or maybe just I did, about the celebration we’d have today. The guest list, the food, the decorations, the sharing of stories, the photos. But sometimes things change. Something happens and we have to set a new course, or change our goal. And so the magical dream in my head of celebrating my parents’ 40th anniversary went away. I packed up the ideas and the imaginings and put them in deep storage where they’ve remained untouched, until today.

It seems strange to celebrate without her here, and so I’ve held myself from wishing my dad “happy anniversary”. But in actuality I am sad for the years they have been cheated; it’s a strange sensation because it’s not even emotions about me.

I am thankful for my parents, their relationship , and how they raised me. And I am thankful for the realness, for the beautiful, and for the messy and difficult that comes with any marriage.

So here is to my parents on their 40th wedding anniversary. Thank you for your wisdom, your love, and your endless support. I am proud to have both of you to guide and teach me along the way. You may not be perfect, but you have proved to me that with the right person you can work through anything. And that love, true love, is everlasting.

Things Remembered

My mom and I shared a special bond, each of my sisters and I had our own special bonds with her. But in the time she was in hospice our relationship changed in ways I’ll never fully be able to articulate to anyone. It was precious time, difficult time but still very dear to my heart. Our conversations varied, her moods varied, and my ability to just enjoy the time varied.

But one afternoon as we were having a serious conversation she asked me what I would remember about her when she was no longer here on earth. I came up with a few things, but before I came back the next time I had a list of about 20 that I typed up and printed out for her. I have this list saved on my computer, I also have a copy of it in my wallet, and my dad has the copy I gave to my mom. By no means was the list exhaustive, but it was comprised of the items that immediately came to mind when asked.

I’ve found over the last year that many things could be added to the list:

  • New books by favorite authors
  • Sewing projects
  • Carrie Newcomer events
  • Silly moments
  • Butterflies
  • Math problems

The list could go on and on. It’s hard to get through those moments I see her, or feel her, or something makes her come to mind. It’s hard but I am thankful for those glimpses. Sometimes when faced with remembering, it feels like waves are crashing against me harder and harder until I go under. Sometimes the remembering just makes me feel adrift at sea, as if I’m weightless without direction–caught in the mist. And sometimes I can feel the warmth and joy of the memories as if they have just happened, fresh and new.

I’ve learned that all of those rememberings are important. They are a part of my grieving, and a part of rediscovering myself, because this experience has changed me. That’s not good or bad, it just is. Every event in our lives gives us a new layer of ourselves because we are molded by the situations and people that surround and interact with us. I am thankful for change, and growth, and the opportunity to see things differently.

A few short days and the anniversary will be here. And I am bound and determined to make it a day of sweet memories: not those wrapped up in a bow, but those that are examples of her strength, her beauty, her stubbornness, her intelligence, her grace, her tenacity, her kindness, her diligence. Those are the memories I choose for this anniversary. The memories that aren’t sugar coated but are the best examples for who she was and how she raised me.

I miss you, mama, everyday. But thank you for making me strong. Thank you for making me stubborn. Thank you for teaching me to not silence myself when I need help, have questions, or disagree. Thank you for continuing to remind me of the importance of love and compassion. Thank you for being my inspiration, now and always.