The best words that resonate with me to explain grief describe it in terms of waves. You never quite know when the tide is coming in, when you will get sucked down in the undercurrent, or have the tiniest ripple throw you off balance. And so I keep moving forward despite the flash flood warnings. I do allow myself to cry because she deserves those tears. Her life was cut short, cut fast and it left us all a bit thrown to the wind.
Soon we will be travelling home to put my mom's ashes to rest. I knew this day was coming, my dad took his time with the design of the tombstone, he asked us our opinion and adjusted; making sure we were all happy. When it was ready we then had to find the time, rather make the time, to gather back together and do this. It seems odd, she didn't seem like the type to want to be put in the ground, but then she did buy up the entire section where her parents and brother and sister in law lay at rest. If you believe in spirits at least they got each other to hang out with. And I never quite got the whole ashes thing until I gave birth to my fourth child three months later and this tiny mini urn my dad brought to the hospital was my beacon, my something still to focus on. I wrote about that experience here. It still does calm me.
I remember the week our lives derailed like it was yesterday. Being in upstate New York for a wedding where the twins were the sweetest flower girl and escort you ever did see, my parents on a mini vacation to Nashville for their anniversary. I came home that weekend sore (I was 8 months pregnant with my third) and tired, but happy. Getting the phone call that something was happening to mom was scary and even though I googled every last option, I didn't let myself think the worst. Gathering our lives to travel to Michigan a few days later to be by her side. Calling my oldest friend to tell her, it was the first time I spoke the words out loud; my voice breaking from heartache because even without the diagnosis yet I knew it was bad. Sitting with my dad, sister, and brother those moments getting the news that it was stage 4 brain cancer. Walking out to fall into my husbands arms. The look of scared anticipation and then sorrow as we broke the news. These moments flash in my head; sometimes enraging a hurricane and other times its just gets me - a twinge right in my heart and takes my breath away. I never know which way the storm will turn until I am safely on the other side.
I have felt quite removed lately. Not from my grief, but from being so raw and open. The feelings are still there but there is an understanding between us now. When you lose one of your persons it alters you but I have found some clarity in who I am because of her. I miss her daily, I am angry she's missing out on the life she sacrificed so much to cultivate, but I feel loved. I actually feel her love so completely and it warms me from the inside. I feel the love from the amazing family, friends, and the incredible village of extraordinary mothers I have around me. I feel the love of my soulmate and best friend and our 4 minions. My dad is gearing up to sell our childhood home and I should be sad about it but I'm not. I am excited for him to start a new chapter in his life. When the house is gone I wonder I how I will feel then.
So gearing up for this trip I was a bit surprised that it has been a roller coaster of emotions. I am going a million miles a minute with my husband while we grow our business; exhausted from being mother, maid and servant to the house; and fearing the tsunami that we are driving directly into. To say I've been on edge is a bit of an understatement. Normally this would send me into a tornado destroying everything in its path, but this time it's different. I am more aware, I am trying new approaches, and I hope I am handling this crazy thing called life with just a little better perspective. When I had to talk to my young children about going to the cemetery I was worried I would get zapped, but again to my surprise it was an amazing little conversation. They miss Mimi too and talking about that sadness and embracing our feelings made them so accepting and calm. Instead of being scared they hugged me and referred to Ash Wednesday and the body of Christ (Thank you PSR). Making the connection all on their own and they were not freaked out but totally got it. We hugged for awhile and then talked about being with our family we don't get to see nearly enough and not a tear was shed. I'm guessing there will be more questions after, but I'm not worried. If anything I welcome it. Let's talk about what it means to love fiercely, without judgement, and why we squeeze a little harder when we hug our loved ones. I used to think they were for her, but I know better now. It is in my saddest moments the feeling of her amazing hugs linger around me. I am so grateful to feel to my core that I was loved, that I am loved. I hope my dad feels that and everyone that has ever felt her love feels it too. It's a pretty incredible feeling. My focus now is to shower my beautiful family with that kind of power so that there is never a doubt in their hearts, souls, or minds. My greatest gift I hope to give is for them to always be able to feel my love - long after my physical presence is gone.
"Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back, and reasons to stay." -- Dalai Lama XIV