Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A time to reflect

Dear Mama,
Three years ago today I had the worse day of my entire life.
Three years ago today I awoke to the news that you were in the emergency room.
Three years ago today I started my day to a dreaded cell phone call that you had tumors on your brain and I was to "be strong".
Three years ago today I told my husband to get me out of that house and I never felt comfortable living there again.
Three years ago today was the first Christmas Eve I didn't get to spend with you. And we didn't even get to talk.
Three years ago I was expecting the arrival of my baby girl at any moment and I didn't even want her to come.
Three years ago today I couldn't eat and I sat in a daze as everyone opened their gifts.
Three years ago today I knew that the next Christmas I wouldn't spend with you either.
Three years ago today I began a two year long downward journey into insanity, depression, and fear unlike any I'd ever experienced in the past.
Three years ago today I no longer had hope and I felt like my life was over.
Three years ago today I wanted to be at the hospital, climb into bed with you and hold you as much as I couldn't stand the thought of hearing your voice or seeing your face ever again.
Three years ago today I kept waiting to wake up from the nightmare.

Today I awoke to the terror of a nightmare involving you (and my asking you to not be so grumpy), a next door explosion and open windows that needed to be closed due to the giant smoke cloud, puppies, strange poetry (about taking a "sit" instead of taking a "stand"), and letters from high school friends.
Today I awoke to thunder, loud rain, and wind chimes. Only not the wind chimes that dad made because, despite what he says, they do dry rot and fall apart over time. Heh.
Today I went back to bed with my two precious angels, listened to their highly creative stories about pink fairies and giant robots and started my day over again.
Today I started my day sandwiched between a special boy and a special girl, giving many thanks to the Lord for giving me the strength to land myself here, amidst emotional stability.
Today I didn't cry, didn't feel hopeless, but I still missed you.
Today I realized that my journey out of depression was difficult but worth it in the long run.
Today I feel focused on the important aspects of the holiday and not so much on what happened three years ago. But I still need to write this.
Today I don't feel alone now that my kids are older and able to talk to me and give me support.
Today I will go to church and start another new tradition with my kids... one that is very important to me.

Today I would imagine that you are celebrating in heaven and that makes me happy, even though I feel really distant from you now that I'm a new person. You wouldn't even know me.

Merry Christmas, Mama.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Dear Mama,
I know it might seem to many that I've abandoned this blog but I have simply not felt like writing. But today, I do. Of course I miss you like crazy and I wish more than anything that the kids and I were driving to Gallatin today to spend your special day with you. We'd pick you up and take you to eat somewhere nice and then maybe we'd go do some shopping. The children would enjoy picking out a gift for you and you would simply enjoy them.

Oh, how you would enjoy them, Mama. Your grandson is going on 5 years old. He has a huge heart. He enjoys hosting gatherings of his friends, planning special days, and he thinks that I am the best thing on earth. He tells me all of the time that he misses you and while I wonder if he even remembers you in the least, I believe that he does miss you down in his heart. Because you are a presence that is forever removed and your being gone has left me forever changed. He is such a sweet boy and a delight to be around. I just know that he would be the light of your world.

And this little girl we have. Mama, she is something else. A real piece of work. She is strong-willed, loud, hilarious, and fascinating. She is my worst enemy and my very best friend all rolled into one. I never imagined that having a little girl would be so much fun. And while I feel she could easily beat the living day lights out of me, she could just as easily get dressed in a princess costume and have a tea party. She's going to be three soon and I feel that I'm just now getting to know her. Now that I'm out of that dark hole of despair.

I can't wait to meet this new baby. That's right. A new baby. Another boy. Our peaceful serene child who is going to sleep really well at night. Because we deserve one of those. I wish that you were here to welcome him into this world. It's been really painful to imagine having another that doesn't know either of his grandparents... even a little bit.

I try my best to keep you alive. Your memory at least. The kids know what you liked and how you were so kind. I keep your senior picture in a frame on my desk. It is a constant reminder of your beauty and your kindness. There is a look of peace in your eyes in that picture... one that I only saw in person when you were on your death bed. That look helps me to not be scared of where I'm going one day. Because you already had one foot there and it must have been glorious.

Things are hard right now. It seems that after you died, things started to go down hill and we are still trying to get our feet planted firmly on the ground again. I know that ultimately our every need will be provided but I'm having to learn to truly do without for the first time in my life. I never realized until recently just how spoiled I truly was. But I never really had to want for anything. Now I want for so much that my head swims. Worst, I want for things for my children. To worry about needing a bed for a child is foreign to me. This type of want has helped me to put things into perspective though. I now realize that a child can sleep on the floor or on the couch... there is no rule saying that they have to be in a bed. More specifically, their own bed!

I feel proud of what we have here. I am proud of our children. I am proud of homeschooling. I'm proud of running a non-profit organization that I created from scratch. And I feel proud of how I relied on God to pull me out of a hell that I cannot even describe with words. Mostly I am proud of my marriage and how my relationship with my husband has improved dramatically and I feel secure in knowing that he is not going anywhere. Took me nearly ten years to get there, but finally I believe it.

Mama, I hope that the angels are throwing you a big gigantic birthday party right now. I hope that you are sitting on that Appalachian front porch, alternating between playing a jug and dancin' a jig. And you have thick, glorious long hair and you are wearing a long patchwork skirt. And maybe I'll be there to celebrate your 100th birthday with you.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dear Mama,
Ever since I got some of your things, I've felt further away from you. I've felt like you weren't with me as much. Or maybe that I didn't need you with me as much. I don't really know. And I don't have the extra money for twenty sessions with a psychologist so I guess it will have to remain a mystery. What I do know is that I've felt like maybe you didn't love me or even like me anymore by the time you died. And who could blame you? I was irritated with you all of the time. I had a terrible attitude and I was annoyed by everything you did. I took all of your actions as a personal affront to me. So, when I was going through your things and your writing went on and on about everyone and everything other than me, or even your grandchildren, I realized that maybe that cord had been cut a long time before you died.

That is when I realized that I've been grieving for you for years. Maybe subconsciously I knew that there was something seriously wrong with you long before the diagnosis. Maybe I knew that even if you didn't end up dead, you would never be there for me ever again in any way other than as a burden. There had been a time when I could depend upon you. When we had been friends. Best friends. But that time had ended. Several years ago. Maybe the end was solidified when you didn't seem interested in helping with my wedding. When you didn't offer to take me shopping for anything. When all that you contributed was making the little bird seed bags and showing up. And I'm almost certain you wouldn't have shown up if I'd given you permission to skip it.

I'm not angry. Or at least I don't think that I'm any angrier than I was before. I'm just sad to know that I didn't have a normal mother/daughter relationship at all as an adult and I'm not sure that I have any idea how to be the mother I should be to my own daughter(s). I'm very confused. I'm very scared.

We have another baby on the way. She/He is due to arrive near H's birthday. I just keep thinking how hard it will be to have a baby that neither of my parents know at all. It's a terrible feeling. Just terrible.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day: Another excuse to be a little crazy

Dear Mama,
Today is Father's Day. It's supposed to be a day during which I dote upon my wonderful sweet husband, who is the father of my children. Instead, it has turned into another example of how my shortcomings become major black spots on the track record of my career as a wife and mother. Today was not supposed to be about me. It was supposed to be about Michael. Yet, somehow, the impending feeling of doom that lies upon any day that requires me to make the decision to call him or not to call him leaves me sleepless, mildly depressed, slightly weepy, and missing you a little bit extra.
Last night the anxiety was already seeping through. I suppose it was my fault because I brought you up. But H was playing with a toy that you got him when he was only an infant. It was that electronic book with Tigger on the front. I told him, "Your grandma got this for you at a yard sale when you were just a baby." He said, "Which grandma?" and I reminded him, "My mama". That's when the questions started.
"Do you miss your mother?" and my favorite,
"The grandpa didn't die, right?"
No, he didn't die, sweetie.
But how do you explain the reality to your child when you don't even understand it yourself? At the age of four, he could not possibly comprehend the truth. That "the grandpa" and I were never very close to begin with. We never seemed to understand each other. We've never been able to get along. I've always been terrified of his being in the room, kinda the way you are scared of that E.T. book on sister's bookshelf... never actually causing any real harm but existing there, implying imminent danger nonetheless. And that, for as long as I've known him, he was teetering on the edge of sanity and when your grandma got sick and died, he lost his flippin' mind OR he's just a total jerk. Either scenario is unpleasant and not something I'd like to rehash with a preschooler.
Mama, the worst part of this whole stupid mess is that I don't have him around to talk with about you. Sadly, though, I have a feeling that he doesn't talk about you, think about you, or even remember you. He's that much like a robot. You used to say that we were so much alike and that was why we couldn't get along. I think you were wrong. I think we are the exact opposite of one another and we lived on such opposite ends of the universe that the only experience we shared was you. What a gigantic stretch that must have been for you... to connect two such drastically different people.
So, I leave you with a thank you. A thank you for trying to fill that void in my life for 28 years. Sure, you failed miserably and I sought out the approval of males in ways that were both dangerous and inappropriate. But you sure did try, didn't you?

With love,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Walking in your shoes and your jackets and maybe a sweater or two

Dear Mama,
I just got back from visiting with you in a dream. I always feel as if I've been so close to you when we meet in dreams. The funny thing is that I don't even think you were actually in the dream. Just your stuff. Your stuff was in the dream. I was Gallatin at your house (only it wasn't exactly your house). Aunt Theresa was there with me. There was a huge RV in the driveway that belonged to me and Michael. I'm pretty sure he was in it. Your bathroom pretty much looked the same. Except one half of the cabinet was missing. When I peeked inside, there was a giant stack of blue tucks pads... I assumed they were from when you were sick. I have a stack of green ones in my bathroom from having a home birth. I opened up the bathroom closet. Your white sneakers sat there, all by themselves. I was in a hurry. I had to go to meet Geoffrey. We were meeting at the Discovery Center (which is actually in Murfreesboro) for a science experiment at noon. I was going to be late. But instead i walked into your bedroom which had suddenly grown. Everything was in the same place only more spread out. The ceilings had even become vaulted. I opened the closet. It was a walk-in. And it had a light. I started taking your clothes out, one by one. Placing them on the bed. The pink sweater that I got you for your last birthday was in there. I grabbed framed pictures off of your dresser and stacked them in my arms. I felt so close to you, just being in your house. I suppose that through dreams is the only way in which I'll ever be able to visit your house again. It breaks my heart. It's more than I can even imagine. It makes me feel so lonely. I'm so thankful for the power of the imagination... for it can allow me to go places that, in real life, I'll never go again.

I love you,

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Mama.

Dear Mama,
I keep thinking of all of these cool things I'd get you if you were here this Mother's Day. I'd take you to eat at Miller's. I'd drag you to have your nails done since you never did experience the pleasure of a pedicure. We'd go for a movie or maybe I'd buy you tickets to a concert. Perhaps we'd even go away over night to some town that has really awesome thrift stores and just shop til we dropped. Today I honored you by forcing myself to go to church, by not laying in the bed feeling sorry for myself, by showing true appreciation for the effort that my children and my husband made to make my day extra special, by bargain hunting for your grandson at the Goodwill Sunday Sale as you always did, like clockwork (Hunter now has three new pairs of pants and two long sleeved button down shirts that were only $6.25 total... I was ecological and economical by shopping used. I even refused a bag). Michael asked me during church if I was okay and I said yes. And, momentarily forgetting why I might be sad, he said, "Awww, what's the matter?" in a cheerful voice. I honored you by not being a bitch and snapping at him. Instead, I simply said, "It's just a hard day." With that, he put his strong arm around me and pulled me a little closer. I love that man. After the Goodwill, I honored you by spending half an hour meticulously picking out this week's library books for your grandchildren and then sharing an anecdote from my childhood with the librarian. I'm sure she didn't care that you used to lay in bed and read library books to me every night (and the funnies you read on Sundays) but she showed great kindness by acting as if she cared. Today I will continue to honor you by thanking God for the many Mother's Days we did spend with one another and for the powerful and positive impact you had upon my life each and every day you lived. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for giving this whole Motherhood thing your all. I sure do appreciate it. And, as always, I miss you like crazy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dear Mama,
The children and I are watching "The Gravy Bunch". I started to tivo some of the shows from my childhood in order to provide the kids with a bit of a peak into who I am. Since I spent so many hours watching television, I felt this was a good place to start. Of course, for the most part they watch preschooler television like "Franklin" or "Calliou" but I must admit to letting them watch lots of old sit coms. Just this morning I overheard Hunter singing, "And it takes different strokes, it takes different strokes. Different strokes to move the world". Perhaps he could be spending his time doing something more constructive but allowing him to watch the tv that I grew up serves more than just a baby-sitter purpose for me. In addition to keeping him preoccupied, it also helps us to have things in common. It is just so much easier for me to curl upand watch "Facts of Life" on demand with them than it is for me to watch "Dora the Explorer". So, he should be well versed in 80's pop culture references by the time he goes to school (if he goes to school) and I'm totally okay with that. At least we'll "get" each other.
At any rate, we are watching "The Gravy Bunch" and I swear I didn't tell him to say that. I called it by its correct name. But when he looked at me and said, "What is "The Gravy Bunch" about?" I couldn't help but say, "What did you say?". And he repeated it. Yep. Gravy. Suddenly I was swept back to lying in your arms at... Ronin's age? while you rocked me in the rocking chair and sang to me with your sweet sweet voice. First you would sing "The Gravy Bunch" and then "Jesus Loves Me" and "You Are My Sunshine" and that is all I remember. That and how great it felt. Our days were so peaceful and soothing. My time with you was so precious. I desperately long to be held in your lap while you sing to me and hold me so tightly. I also can't help but feel a little sad that Hunter is quickly becoming too old to be held and rocked. He is so tall. He is so grown up. And with the occasionally exception, he is so well-mannered, mature, responsible, polite, and likable. We are very similar. It's the girl to whom I cannot relate. Though I love her just as much and sometimes a little more... based upon her big brother's behavior. But regardless, he is the one I feel closest too. Especially now that he's over his daddy obsession and seems to like us both equally.
What I wouldn't give for them to know you. For them to have just a day to peak in on us 16 years ago, shopping and laughing and being the best of friends. It pains me to know that they will never see that, know that, feel that. But I will try my hardest to recreate it for them
. And what's even cooler than anything I can give them is the fact that they have each other. That is a priceless amazing gift. I'm often envious of what they have together.

Your daughter, your sister, your bestest friend,

PS, Look. Hunter loves puzzles like you did.