A few months after dad passed away, you purchased a carved stone that now sits by the stairway he built outside our family home. I often times recite the words of the poem in my head, but today the words speak to me more poignantly than usual.
I thought of you today
But that is nothing new
I thought of you yesterday
And days before that too.
I think of you in silence
I often speak your name
All I have are memories
and your picture in a frame.
Your memory is my keepsake
With which I’ll never part
God has you in his keeping
I have you in my heart.
Oh Mama. My heart aches today, but like the poem says, that is nothing new. I have felt your loss every day since you’ve been gone. There are so many times I’ve longed to pick up the phone and call you. I’ve wanted to hear your voice more times than I can count.
Truth be told, there are some days when I need you more than others. There have been times when I have felt feel hurt and I needed to hear your love and words of comfort. There have been many, many times when I have doubted myself and I needed your reassurance and words of encouragement. I’ve had some wonderful things happen to me in the last several months, and I’ve longed to share them with you and hear your excitement.
It is in the brief seconds between when I think of calling you and when I realize I can’t my heart breaks, my throat swells, the tears fall and I feel your absence the most.
Springtime has been hard, especially this year. I’ve always loved the spring, but since you and dad became sick it hasn’t felt the same. Springtime brings your birthday, March 23rd. What a beautiful day to celebrate! Springtime brings Easter, and Easter lilies. Oh how you loved Easter lilies, the beauty and the smell. Every spring an Easter lily sat in the center of your kitchen table on one of your Corelle dishes. Easter also reminds me of the Jell-O eggs you always made. Do you remember those?
Spring time brings my birthday. You had always done so much to celebrate your kid’s birthdays. The parties, the cakes, the friends. Every year you were the first person to call and wish me happy birthday and say you loved me.
Spring time brings memories of you and dad in the hospital. It’s not your fault, but spring reminds me of all the drives back and forth over the bridge to visit you and dad at Swedish. It was hard not to recognize the beautiful city in which we live as I drove over the 520 bridge, but every drive brought anxiety because I wasn’t sure the state you and dad would be in when I arrived. It’s so hard to explain my feelings during that time. In many ways those days were the worst days of my life, and yet I can also recall the depth of love I felt for you, dad, Debbie, Jeff and Kimmy during those same times. Those were the moments the strength of our family was tested and proven. How can I reconcile the painful memories of the hospital against the immeasurable amount of love I felt for my family during our darkest days?
I don’t mean for it to sound like I don’t love my siblings now as much as I did then. It’s actually quite the opposite. I love them more. It’s impossible to go through what we went through and not feel a deeper connection than we did before. I don’t know how you and dad did it, but you created strength and an incredible amount of love between us. As a mother myself, I want to emulate this for my own family.
Springtime brings baseball. I can’t sit in the stands of Austin’s games without thinking of you and dad. Dad with his humor and jokes about wearing leather underwear. You and some of your embarrassing commentary. Yes, sometimes you embarrassed me as you sat in the stands. You were always so enthusiastic about the game and the player’s performance, so sometimes this meant you would make comments about our pitcher who was struggling on the mound. The problem is, you didn’t realize the parents were sitting nearby. Yeah, I was embarrassed at the time, but what I wouldn’t give to have you there at Austin’s game today.
So yes, springtime is hard. It’s been hard for several months.
Spring also bring Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is a joyous occasion for many and a day of sorrow for others. Just as I have trouble reconciling my feelings during those days spent at the hospital, I have trouble reconciling my emotions on Mother’s Day.
I celebrate my children. I was blessed with one of the most important jobs in the world, and I'm finally realizing I’ve done a pretty good job. The other day Ryanne said to me, “I appreciate you.” Mom, I don’t know if I ever said the same to you. They are such simple words, and yet the impact I felt when my daughter said them to me had the most profound effect. If I never told you the same, I want to tell you now. Mom, I appreciate you. I appreciate you and what you did for us in more ways than I can adequately express.
Mom, I love you. I know we said this to each other quite frequently. You loved me, just as I loved you. I believe it was because you and dad freely expressed your love for us, my kids and I exchange these same three words often. In fact, Austin gives me a hug me every night before bed and tells me he loves me.
So you see, Mother’s Day brings a mix of emotions. My heart aches you are not here with me today, but I have so much to celebrate on Mother’s Day.
I have two beautiful kids.
I had you.