The Written Word

Today on the 10th anniversary of Mom’s death, I was initially planning on going to the cemetery like last year, talking to her and hoping for some kind of response, a feeling or a sense of her presence… but I didn’t go. She’d said, she actually didn’t want us hanging out there, as if that’s where she was there, and that must be true, because I don’t feel any closer to her when I’m there. I can talk to her anywhere, and I do, but it still makes me sad not to hear her answer back. You’d think after 10 years I’d have gotten use to our one sided conversations… I haven’t.

A few years ago it was suggested to me that I start journaling, but I didn’t care for it at all, it felt like talking to myself. But today it occurred to me… maybe I should write to mom! I still love reading her old emails, the longer the better. I’ve saved pretty much everything she ever wrote me. So today, I started writing to mom. It didn’t feel like talking to myself and there’s no expectation of hearing her respond. It just seems so fitting, writing to some one who loved to write and loved to read! I still have so much to say to her and I expect that will always be true. I wish I thought of this 10 years ago, I feel like I have a novel to write now. A novel… I think she’ll like that.

Conversations with Mom

ltj2016cemeteryToday on the 9th anniversary of Her death, I went to the cemetery with the intent of planting myself next to Mom, for the entire day if need be, until she spoke to me. I keep trying to have conversations with her, silently, out loud and sometimes through tears, begging her to talk to me.

I thought how in Her last months, several times she said…  “you can ask me anything, tell me anything.” Funny how as much as she was such a wonderful conversationalist… some of the most memorable, poignant and touching things she said were but a few words. For example… after my third or fourth miscarriage she sent me flowers. The card simply said “There, there.”

Today was kinda like that.

A smile and a laugh like Her’s never fades

On the 17th, I was in Big Bear, for the second time in a month, for what started as a cleaning and redecorating project to prepare the cabin for sale. After 4 trips to the dump, it was clutter free and actually comfortable to be there. Alone at the cabin, while Gary and Trevor made the final trip to the dump to make room for the new furniture and beds… memories of the time Mom & Dad came up to play in the snow with nearly all of their grandchildren. As if it had been days ago (rather than 25 years) I could hear Mom laughing and talking to the kids as they made snowmen. I’m know I have photos of that day. hopefully I’ll be able to find them and add them to this post. I remember one photo in particular where they posed with the picaso-esque figure… Mom smiling like she was caught mid-laugh.

Gosh… come to think of it… i’m pretty sure every picture of her she’s caught smiling not posing with a smile. It was just naturally there whenever she was with family or friends, in fact think anyone would be hard press to remember a time when she wasn’t smiling, to her… life was beautiful and there was always a reason to smile.

In her last year, there were many time we had conversations that lead to tears… let me rephrase that… I WOULD BE IN TEARS. Come to think of it… i don’t recall even one single time seeing her cry… i would be crying and she, SHE WOULD BE SMILING!!!! Remember, that consoling comforting way she had? Not trying to stop you from crying, not making light of your sadness. I remember one time crying uncontrollably, wanting to stop, wanting to be brave but just not able to. I remember her holding me and talking (you could hear her smiling in her voice) I could feel the love and calm flowing from her. Man, didn’t everything about her just exude calm, love and happiness?

I miss that so much.

I had a particularly rough week this week with work, which is why I’m days late writing. Couple of jobs driving me crazy and the client constantly wanting to talk on the phone, sending text after text pushing the limits of the work I was already doing for free, to help land a big job. Anyway, was on a conference call at 7:30pm when I missed a call from Henry. When I didn’t answer, he texted me… I responded, telling him I’d call him at 9 when I expected to be done. When 9 came and went and the client was still pushing for more…. i wasn’t in the best of moods and warned Henry by text. We didn’t end up talking that night but yesterday Henry sent me a text, reminding me about something what Mom use to say… “don’t sweat the small stuff, and… it’s ALL small stuff.”

She even said that about cancer! She said… “I can do cancer standing on my head.”

So… I suppose I can handle a rough week. I just wish I didn’t have to do it without her. Everything was easier when she was here.

I miss HER so much. <3

Today at 11:45am, I sat in her chair and remembered this…

Years ago, at St. Jude’s hospital the night before Mom was to have open heart surgery, I said something to her when I kissed her goodnight that I shouldn’t have said. It was true and I meant it, but still I shouldn’t have said it. I don’t think she answered me when I said “Don’t leave me, YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE ME.” Later I was ashamed of myself, what a selfish thing it was for me to say. Even though I felt that way, I thought it many many times again but I never said it out loud to her again. At least I don’t think I did.

Last summer, as I sat snuggled up on the couch with Mom, I found myself saying it over and over again in my head and I started to cry. Mom wanted to know what I was thinking about. At first I wasn’t going to tell her but then I thought it might be a good time to apologize for what I had said. I’m surprised she could even understand me, I barely got a few words out before I was crying so hard I could barely breathe.

Through my tears I told her how sorry I was for making her worry about me at a time like that. I told her it was the most selfish thing I’d ever done. I asked her if she remembered and if she would forgive me and you what she did? She laughed! Just kind of a soft laugh, but she laughed… and said “Oh Lenore, I’m never going to leave you.” And she meant it.

Isn’t it  interesting that Dad was thinking essentially the same thing today… It Never Ends.

For as long as it took me to write this memory, it was actually just one of so many things running through my head as I watched the DVD. I’ll share just one other, a question really. I was wondering if, in heaven, Mom’s gets to go back and actually be in some of those moments again, the ones that we long for as we watch them in movies or see them in photos… The times that feel like the happiest days of our lives and we had so many.


Six Months without Her

How strange things still are without Mom. The other day I heard that saying “life goes on.” I hate that saying, mostly I hate that it’s true.

We all go to work, the kids go to school, the weekend comes and goes and we do it all over again, week after week. Now here we are six months later. There is nothing we can do to stop the time that passes without her. It makes me so sad but it also makes me realize nothing has changed about my connection with her. I still can’t manage to make her appear no matter how much I beg her to come. But still I feel as close to her as ever.

Mimi told me something she said to Dad, about not hearing Mom or feeling her presence, and it made perfect sense to me. If Mom would come to us at home and we could see and talk to her… why would life have to go on for us? We could just sit at home and be with her. We’d never have to figure out what to do with our feelings or our lives for that matter. Think about how obsessed we’d become with Her. And we all know, that’s the last thing she wanted. Remember her prayer card “grieve for a while for me if you must, then let your grief be comforted by trust.”

I do trust Her. I know she’s with us. Not in the way we want but in a way that is appropriate, a way that let’s us go on and not be stifled by our grief.

Today Mimi, Patty and I went to the cemetery to have a picnic with Mom. After a little praying and a few tears, it was all girl talk, the four of us. I think Mom liked us just sitting around with her, having a conversation that we’d have had if she was sitting right there in circle we mad around her spot.

I really do get a sense that Mom is happy when we are together enjoying each other’s company. I remember a conversation Mom and I had sitting on the cozy little couch in the apartment. Mom talked about how important it was that the family gather together as often as we do. She said it’s not an easy task to get 30 people together. She said sure, every now and then someone can’t make it, but she was very proud of the effort that we all made to make it happen. I know she felt comforted know that tradition would continue.

I still have a hard time when the whole family gets together, because we are incomplete. Her bright loving face was never lost in the crowd. I still look for her, I feel like she could be around a corner just out of sight.

Still, for now the smaller get togethers are easier for me and I know Mom likes that too. We are so fortunate to have everyone so close by. Mimi and I have always been able to spend time together because we live so close, but we’ve made it a point (the three sisters) to spend more time together and Dad has been coming for Sunday lunches. It reminds me of Sunday lunches with Grand-pop and Nannette. I love the Sundays when Dad makes the hour drive just to have lunch with us.

It so nice to be able to laugh and enjoy the family Mom and Dad created. So, yes life does go on… and you know Mom wants it that way.

 

Three Months without Her.

Of course all I did was think of Mom today. Whenever I think of her and the things she did and said, I have to smile. It’s only when I think of the rest of us, who can’t bear to be without her, that I cry.

I cry the most for my Dad, who can’t pretend that she’s still here and just an hour away. Every moment of every day I know he feels the loss. I know, no matter how much we love him or how much we want to spend time with him, we can’t fill the space that was Hers. I think of all the times he told me “I still get weak in the knees when I see her face.” It’s something I tell my friends when I want to give them a glimpse of the love they shared. I don’t think anyone, even those of us who lived with their love can comprehend the depth of it… and now, the depth of the loss.

But as Mom made so clear to us in her words and what she had written on the back of her prayer card, it was important to Her that our memories were happy ones. She didn’t spend her life, not even in her last months, being anything but optimistic, grateful, courageous and even happy, to her last days. And what I find most amazing is that she wasn’t faking it for us. That was the real Her. Here are Her exact words from an email (9-3-06), when I had questions about her conversation with God.

Dearest Lenore –
Yes – my darling daughter – you’ve understood. When I mention talking to God to you or any of the other kids I’m hoping to open the door to whatever kind of talk you or they feel ready for. Just remember – I promise never to put on a show, to lie or be “brave” for you. On the phone, in an e-mail, when we are alone or with people. this isn’t the time for that. Ask me anything. My answers may bring tears to your beautiful eyes but I don’t think they will make you sad.
We’ll write or talk more in the coming days and weeks. Heart to heart. I just realized what a beautiful expression that is. My heart to yours.
I love you Lenora. And because you are a mother too, you know how much.
Good night.
Mom

She was happy, she is happy and she wants us to be happy.
We miss her, she misses us and still she wants us to be happy.

I know when I’m able to laugh at things when I talk about her, it makes her laugh too.

I hope she knows how hard I try to be happy more often than sad. I know if I don’t try, she’ll be sad.

Some days are worse than others… like today.

Don’t know why but I’ve been crying all day. I don’t want to work, I don’t want to go out, I don’t want to be cheered up… I just want my Mom.

But I have to work anyway. Luckily I don’t have to see any clients today, so I can cry. And I do, all day. As I’m working I go to my notes in Entourage to look for something and there I see a note titled “Anyway… from Mom.” Below is the email she wrote on August 5, 2006 and below that is the poem she sent. It’s sooo Mom. It doesn’t have anything to do with why I’m so sad today, but it makes me feel good anyway.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Kiddles -I NEVER forward e-mails that are sent me. I tell friends,”Please don’t ask me to forward messages to 5 (6?10?) deserving people. I DON”T forward.” But – I just had to share this one with all of you. The photos are sweet but it’s the words that – well, see what you think.

Love ya -The Mama

P. S. Dad says I say “Anyway” all the time.

~~~~~~

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Success anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of being selfish and having ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.

What you spend years building, some may try to destroy overnight; Build anyway.

If your honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you have anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it’s between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.

Looking and Listening for My Mom

Today it has been two months since I’ve seen my Mom. Never in my life have I gone this long without seeing or speaking to her. In fact, I’m sure I’ve never gone two weeks without her. I don’t know when it starts to get easier but I do know it’s not yet and since Thanksgiving I think it’s actually gotten harder. I suppose that’s not unusual for the holidays to be more difficult.

What surprises me the most is that I feel like I’m looking for her and somehow surprised when she’s not there. She wasn’t at our family Thanksgiving, she wasn’t at the baby shower for her first great grandchild and worst of all she not in my room at night when I call for her. She’s not even at the cemetery.

I do understand death and the finality of it but my heart doesn’t seem to get it. I find myself saying almost daily “how can this be, how can she be gone.” I feel like a little kid who doesn’t understand death, I say out loud to her “Mom, where are you?”

I’ve been expecting her, she told me she’d come to me, she promised. I make deals with her. I tell her, I known you can’t just appear but if I close my eyes and put out my hand let me feel your hand. I loved to hold her hand, so delicate and soft. I wait patiently… Nothing!

About a week ago I stayed in bed much too long on a Saturday morning wanting my Mom. I hadn’t done a bit of Christmas shopping or even put up my tree. When I finally came out of my room I saw boxes of Christmas decoration the family had dug out over a week ago. My first reaction was Bah Humbug, I don’t even want to have Christmas this year, not with out my Mom.

I did however want my Mom to have a tree, so I went out, bought a tree and took it to the cemetery. I stayed longer than I’m sure Mom would have wanted me to. Before I left the cemetery I asked her if she like the tree. I heard in my head “yes, now go home and put up your own tree.” Was that me??? It was my voice, but it sure wasn’t something I felt like doing. But just in case it was Mom, I thought I better get home and put up the tree.

On the way home it occurred to me that Mom might not like what I wrote on the card attached to the tree. I wrote; I don’t know how to do Christmas without you.

A few days later I talked to my dear friend Nancy, who lost both her parents. Like me, Nancy was with her Mom when she passed. I told Nancy about what I heard in my head at the cemetery and she insisted that was my Mom. I wanted to believe her, so I did. But still, it was my voice.

I told my Dad and my sister Mimi, and I’m sure like me they’d like to believe it too… but still, it was my voice. We all want to hear her voice, so very desperately want to hear her beautiful voice.

The night before last I was up alone watching a movie, not talking to myself at all, just half heartily watching a movie, when I was interrupted by a voice in my head, loud and clear! What I heard wouldn’t have made any sense expect for a conversation that was happing on the screen. It startled me and I rewound the movie to hear what they said. I don’t care if you believe me or not, my Mom answers a question that was asked by a character in that movie! I was so happy I cried and laughed… it was my Mom I know it was.

Sorry, I’m not going to tell you what it was. But I’ll tell you this, I heard it again as I began to wake the next morning. The same answer, but it felt like it was to a different question.

Today I saw Nancy again, and I told her about it. I told her this time I’m sure it was my Mom. I told her I wish it were my Mom’s voice, I want to hear her voice. And Nancy, bless her beautiful heart, said “Lenore your Mom speaks through you not to you. She has no physical being any longer, no body to see or touch and no voice to hear.” She also said something to the effect that she’s not in a form we can understand and for now this is her way to reach us.

As I think about my Mom’s words and what Nancy said today, on this the second month anniversary of her death, I know now for sure I found her, she’s here and she told me something very important…

How about this, I’ll tell you Mom’s answer but not the question. The question doesn’t matter, because what she said answers so many questions for me.

The answer is “It never ends.”

I know this is true… Mom said so.