When the U Haul pulled up to the house I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I only knew it was a sign that Mom was with me, telling me to "go on now, do what you have to do. I am with you and I am with your sister. I always will be." I am in the middle of nowhere and my husband just picked up a U-Haul that contains a city where we had many good times together as a family. Mom always said "there is no such thing as a coincidence." I'll take the sign. I'll take it and carry it with me in my heart. I'll take anything I can get right now. Because we have no choice but to keep living. Keep moving forward with the rest of the world as they move, move, move too quick for my taste.
As I walked around the property I could feel the life that once filled this space. The life of a family. The fullness. The laughter, the tears, the friends, the anger, the sadness. All the smallness that really equals the hugeness of life. Of a life shared. Of a life well lived. Too short. Not enough time. But if she lived to be 99 would my pain be any less? Would my tears not flow as freely? I feel gutted. How can it be expected of me to live, to go on, to occupy this earth without my mother? My mother who made absolutely everything better. I cried on the phone for a good 30 minutes with my sister today. We both determined that a trip to Costco was better with mom. But that is only one thing on a list of a million.
In some way I feel like I'm mourning Dad all over again. I'm missing him and remembering him. His quiet grace. His dedication to most everything that mattered in life. All the lessons that remain inside me that I hand out as simple gifts to my children daily. Concrete was poured and I picked up a stick and carved my name. These are my cousin Robb's initials. The FOR SALE sign was pushed into the lawn in the front yard and on this concrete our initials remain.
I get up every morning and go to bed every night. And in between I fluctuate between small bits of normalcy. I look normal to you. I act normal to you. But I really just want to scream "She's gone!" How can I be expected to move through these spaces of my life in the same fashion? I cannot be. I will never be the same. I just want to lie down with my sister and feel her close. To be connected to the only family member that has the same genetic make up as my own. She knows the smell of mom's perfume. She knows the funny inside jokes of our family. She knows the way mom loved us. Whole and pure and true and good.
Grief is a lonely road. It is an ache deep inside your heart and your gut. It's a moment of pure clarity. It's a feeling of sickness, of exhaustion. It's a road only I can take. I can't detour. I must go straight through. I think of all the sympathy messages I have written to others. Not that they weren't without heart. Not that people don't mean well. But unless you have traveled this path I'm not sure you can really understand. After my Dad died and I needed to send a sympathy card I would go to the store and pick out a special card. Not just any old card in the drawer would do.
I don't want to be cynical. I don't want to lose the joy in my heart for the simple things in life. Mom used to say all the time, "Not everyday is fun. But that is okay. It's the little things that matter."
The seasons are changing. The weather is just a little bit colder everyday. I will not let my heart grow cold. I will channel my amazing mother and be kind. Put on a brave face. Do what is right. Do as she taught. Teach her lessons to my children. Carry on her legacy.
Weeks ago I was listening to a song on my iPod by Miranda Lambert called "The House that Built Me". This was most certainly the house that built me. As painful as it feels right now, this space will be filled with more love and laughter again. It's how the world works. Life goes on. And if the new inhabitants have even a smidge of what we had here, they will be blessed.
I can still laugh. I can still feel joy. I found a journal entry from mom that said "Don't feel bad for feeling good." Just know it's a roller coaster. Some days I may be funny and happy and on a dime I will want to go home and lie down.
I intend to hold on.
I intend to rise above.
I will continue to love and laugh and live this life of mine.
Two amazing people taught me everything I know.
I must use the gifts they gave me.