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Posts Tagged ‘Mother’s Day’

… I’m not asking you to move on or forget it, but these are better days

… to be loved like a song you remember even when you’ve changed. ~~ Brandi Carlile

When I answered the phone that morning, I already knew she was dead. Nothing good ever comes from a phone call at 5:28 in the morning. When I left the night before, she was near death… always “near death”. I guess in a hospice facility that describes everyone — “near death”.
But still, that morning the phone rang, and I already knew. I answered it anyway, my sister said, “she’s gone”. I don’t think I said anything, maybe I just hung up, maybe I said okay, maybe I said I’m on my way. It wasn’t a shock and yet — it was, it was a shock.
I collapsed under the weight of the knowledge of forever being without a mother. I collapsed under the weight of all the things I needed her to tell me, all the things I needed her to listen to, all the things that wound my mind and my stomach in knots. But that was it… time was up. No deathbed revelations, no deathbed confessions, no deathbed secrets revealed — she was gone.

I’m sure my mother isn’t the only mother who could make ice water run through your veins with her glance. I’m sure she isn’t the only mother whose perfectly placed sigh could bring an abrupt end to any conversation. I’m sure she isn’t the only mother who could make you question your decisions as a competent 40-year-old as if you were 10 again — I’m sure of these things.

I’ve often wondered if people who get the news of someone dying in a sudden car wreck or a massive heart attack can process the news easier — probably not. But, waiting 15 months for the inevitable to happen is tiring… yes, I’d say it’s tiring. You think you’ll wait for the perfect time to say the words and to hear the words and you screw your courage and decide tomorrow will be a better time. There’s always tomorrow.

I drove to the hospice facility immediately — I was already showered and dressed, it’s not like I was sleeping that year she lived with me. A baby monitor in her room allowed me to hear every creak of the bed, every cough and nose blow, every turn of the page, every trip to the bathroom, every quiet calling out of my name for help — for a year, so… why sleep? I was always waiting for something to happen… waiting, always waiting for something.

I felt relieved to not be the caregiver and, of course, guilty at my relief.
I felt a new disconnect from things holding me back, not that my mother was consciously holding me back from things I needed to do, but her care was always fully on my mind.
Or maybe, she was holding me back.

The months, the years since her death have been a confusing time.
My body still fights sleep, it still wakes at the slightest creak, it still listens for my name.

My mind wandered and did backwards flips and tangled itself into tight knots of questions and confusion. My therapist must have been one hell of a girl scout because she has untied some horrendous knots in me.
The friend I looked up to more than any other person — my knots crept into her life… those knots, they weave their way around everything near like kudzu taking over a once manicured backyard. You cut one away and another grows twice as big… a noxious weed invading every crevasse.

It was a confusing time.
A time when it seemed the knots would stay forever — the knots of my mother, the knots of my friend, the knots of my failures, the knots of motherhood and womanhood and becoming a better me… the knots of another Mother’s Day.
Seems like a perfect day to help untie each others knots.

Mothers are a confusing lot, aren’t we?
We learn from our mothers, we attempt to recreate that amazing strawberry cake, that enchilada casserole we had at Christmas all the while cursing ourselves under our breath because we even try. We vow to be our own person. We learn to control the sighs and the icy glances, the all too familiar judgements.

Motherhood should be a collective. We have a much better chance of figuring it out together than we ever would alone.

This Mother’s Day, my children and I will eat out and go for a walk and I’m sure there will be a trip to the bookstore and we’ll go to the lake and feed the ducks and we’ll laugh and we’ll enjoy that time and when we get home… we’ll all retreat to our own corners and a few of my knots will untangle and a few more will loosen.
I don’t plan on being on my deathbed wondering if I was a good mother — I am always becoming a better me… these are better days. The stories I take with me won’t be worth confessing and the confessions I make will be well worth a listen. I won’t look at my kids and wonder if I sighed too much or judged too many outfits and boyfriends and girlfriends or used my icy stare too often. They won’t tell me anyway, of course. Who tells their mother things like that on her deathbed? They’ll wait and they’ll tell it to a therapist and the therapist will untie those knots… (maybe that’s how we can tell, the number of knots that our children have in them and the time it takes to untie them… maybe that’s how we’ll know) then they’ll write a post in their blogs about motherhood and its perils and its triumphs and how the bond between mother and child endures many things and maybe they’ll even post it on Mother’s Day… but, I know I am loved like a song they remember. Still… I wonder what it will reveal about me and my knots.

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I’m flooded but not drowning,

shifting my weight from side to side,

keeping my head steady so the small waves don’t pull me under.

The flood is fast approaching but me…

I stay level,

controlled,

bobbing and weaving.

But don’t look too close,

you’ll see the signs of the rising waters.

I’m flooded,

with these thoughts of hope.

These thoughts…

They live here, inside, all along.

Waiting for the right time to ease out from behind the levee.

But they never ease…

I’m flooded,

with these heart breaks that start small.

So small…

Then they grow and split and open wide up,

releasing the power of the still rising current.

But,

I’m not drowning.

I don’t need to be rescued,

Just a small piece of hope to cling to,

just a small piece of debris that broke free from the muck,

waiting for me to grab hold.

I’m flooded but not drowning,

I am my own hero,

There’s got to be some hero in me,

screaming to be heard above the rising of the waters,

“Bring my courage back!”

I’m tired of just clinging,

I want to swim in the churning waters,

I want to be swept away,

Because I know…

I’m not drowning.

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Mother’s Day approaches. I think about my mother and the gifts she gave me. Not the physical gifts, not the monetary gifts — there were plenty of those over the years. But the pieces of herself that she left in me. Like pieces of a puzzle waiting to be assembled — waiting for all the other pieces to arrive.

My mother and I were quite different, I’ve talked about this in some previous posts. But, she still left me some lasting gifts. Gifts I find when I’m not really looking. Maybe the gift of insight. My mother was a marvelous mental health therapist. She had a gift of insight for others. She could talk to them and calm them and help them. Maybe I have a little of that — maybe. But, I think, it has manifested in me as a way for me to look at my own short-comings…as way to improve on those short-comings. Sometimes I can hear her voice, sometimes I can smell her perfume, sometimes she’s still very close.

I think, as women, we glean more from the women in our lives — the good and maybe the bad. I have had some women in my life that left a piece of themselves with me. My mother, of course, but also my grandmother had a very strong influence on me. I spent three months every year with her until I was in college. She was calm and organized and giving and not afraid to tell you what she thought about any subject. My father had a sister that I adore still to this day. She was always fun and giving and thoughtful…and fun. My grandmother’s youngest sister is soft-spoken and calming and loving and has the best smile. I have two cousins who are easy to give a hug and easy to share a laugh and easy to love. Many women have given a piece of themselves to me — I try to assemble the pieces together. Trying to make it all fit so that the puzzle is whole.

There are others, some I’m not related to — some I’ve never actually met. But they are leaving a mark on me, they are helping me become whole. They are leaving their gifts for me. They give me their time and their thoughts and their words. They give me tough love when I need it. They help me understand that anger doesn’t always mean an end and that love doesn’t always need to be spoken.

Mother’s Day approaches. My mother and grandmother are gone, but the gifts they left in me are here — surfacing sometimes, trying to fit into the puzzle of my life. They mesh with the gifts I’m still receiving from others. I think that’s what we can do as women — we can give the best of ourselves to those who need it. As women, we give the best of ourselves to those we love. We can help assemble the puzzle in each of us. We can be mothers and sisters and friends.

Happy Mother’s Day to the women in my life. You give yourselves to me, you influence me, you love me — you hold my hand when I need it and you make me walk alone when I need to. You listen, you talk, you hear, you laugh, you scorn, you care… you care.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all.

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Stop and stare

I think I’m moving but I go no where

Yeah, I know that everyone gets scared

But I’ve become what I can’t be

Stop and stare

You start to wonder why you’re here, not there

And you’d give anything to get what’s fair

But fair ain’t what you really need

Oh, can you see what I see?

I like listening to music. Actually, I like trying to figure out the lyrics and what they mean — what they mean to me anyway. I like this song by One Republic — “Stop and Stare.”

I was thinking about the week I’ve had. It’s been one of those weeks where you can’t wait for it to end — filled with emotion, only the open sunroof and an occasional favorite song on the radio helps you remember that each day eventually ends which of course leaves an opening for a new beginning — that’s when I heard this song. On a day that seemed to drain me emotionally. We all have days like that don’t we? When you long for it to start over — a re-do.

I wrote a post about rage not too long ago — this post isn’t necessarily about rage. Maybe just about the need to get pissed off every once in a while. I think being mad is good for you every now and then. We all get mad. We all have a need to let it out — to sing a favorite song at the top of your lungs, not caring about the people driving by.

I was scheduled to make a trip to Montana next weekend — a trip I’ve been planning for a while. A much-needed trip to spend time with the one person in this world that knows me and my history better than anyone (who didn’t have to share a bedroom with me growing up). She emailed Sunday night to say that the volcano erupting over Iceland was going to delay her arrival back in the states and therefore, wreak havoc on my meticulously planned trip. This was how my week started — a volcano… over Iceland.

I hurriedly changed weekends so that I was delaying my arrival to the following weekend — Mother’s Day. It didn’t dawn on me that this particular weekend was Mother’s Day, until today.

Last Mother’s Day was a blur to me. My mother had passed away shortly before the occasion. I always got her flowers and a card and we all usually gathered with her to celebrate. I went to her grave that day to check it and make sure the weeds weren’t taking over yet. I remember how hard it was to read her name and my father’s name on the marker — I turned my eyes away from the names so I didn’t have to see. It helped me pretend for a few minutes.

I had a slight tinge of guilt today when I realized I would be gone during the day on Mother’s Day. But then I decided it was ok. It’s Mother’s Day and I need to have time with my friend, I need to have time to be a person and not just a mother.

I’ve decided going to Montana to spend time with my friend is a great Mother’s Day present. I’ve decided that getting a little pissed off when you think you’re standing still instead of moving forward is ok. I’ve decided I’m not standing still. I’ve decided that doing something for yourself is good. I’ve decided that risking being mocked because you have a need to “breathe” is ok. I’ve decided…this is all worth it.

I’m playing around with some new looks for First Pages. Feel free to let me know what you think — good or bad. I love input!

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