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I know I promised Canada, and will deliver on said promise, but today the Front Range was so lovely, I just had to share. I worked late last night, not getting home until 1:00 a.m., and only falling into a fitful sleep between 4:15 and 7:15. Throughout the night, I heard rain, which was a becalming sound. Being a woman who takes short 45-second private tropical vacations because of my internal magma, I continue to have the bedroom window open a few inches, even in the sub-zero nights, so last night, I listened to the comfort of rain falling on the dead leaves of the evil Chinese elm tree, and the long slow soothe of a freight train whistle a few miles up the road. I tried to remember what the whistle signals meant, as my father gave me a document long ago that explained the whistle “morse code” that engineers used. The grey of the morning wore off, MKL arrived, we bought a lovely little Christmas tree, saw some llamas, sheep, goats, and BMWs, braved the weirdness of WalMart, went out for coffee and listened to the bluegrass jam session at the East Simpson Coffee Shop.

I changed the sheets, cleaned the bathroom (not enough), watched an episode of “Sherlock” on PBS. I had a baked potato, having decided (in a rather numb-nut fashion) to stop eating sugar and flour now, just before Christmas celebrations. After all, it’s 10 weeks to Costa Rica.

Now, I am cuddled with Mr. Man, trying to adjust to how my body has  been today, how my spirit has been today, on the 10th anniversary of my Mother’s death. As I have said before, I can instantly place myself  back in each moment of the nine days that I was with her up to her passing – and the terrible days afterwards. I physically hurt, and have shed tears a few times when talking to MKL, who is extra adorable, because he never fails to have a handkerchief handy for me to dry my tears.

While I only occasionally have visitation dreams from people who have passed on, it is clear when they occur. I would love to have my Mother visit me, and it has happened only twice in all these years, except for this year, when she stopped by every night for about four days, as she was poised to assist a friend to the next place. No matter how much I want her to come to me in my dreams, she doesn’t. It’s a hard thing for me to understand, but I know it’s in both of our best interests. Still, it adds a caul to the sadness that I feel for the loss of her, which is there daily, but more potent on anniversaries. I cried through the parent/child dance at the wedding I catered last night. I haven’t done that in many years.

But today was a good day, a beautiful day, and I know that would make her happy, as it made me happy, even with the ache throbbing in my heart to the beat of the bluegrass.

20161211_124006-cropBoulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “There is something about losing your mother that is permanent and inexpressable – a wound that will never quite heal.” — Susan Wiggs

Daily gratitude:
The smell of the little Christmas tree lot
Today’s clouds
Siting a bald eagle in flight
Clean sheets
The seasonal reappearance of the Santa Hat

 

 

 

December 11, 2006:

You had slept.  I had only dozed, for the ninth night in a row.  I had gotten up a dozen times from the bed next to yours to check on you, to be sure you were still breathing, like a new nervous new mother does with an infant.  You would moan every so often.  When you awoke in the morning, you looked over at me.  “Am I still here?” you asked.  “Yep,” I replied, “unless I’m dead too.”  “Damn,” you said.

We talked then, about the pain, about how you wanted to go and were unsure why you were still here.  You asked me then, if I would help you go if you did not go by yourself today.  Which told me how much you were hurting.  We talked about how I would do it, with the morphine.  I would have done anything for you.  But I could not commit to killing you.  I said, “Let’s see how it goes today.”  I couldn’t say yes – but I couldn’t say no.

The quality of the day changed after that talk.  It felt like when you’re getting ready for a journey – which you were.  We were down to just the orange sherbet now.  I would slip a little between your dry lips  (no amount of lip balm seemed to keep them moist for long) and you would smile this blissful little smile.  We talked about the little blonde daughter that you had never had, that one time when you had an early miscarriage, and how she had always haunted you, and not in a nice way.  How you had longed for her (I tried not to be jealous, not to feel like somehow I hadn’t been daughter enough for you.)  How you could see her hovering around now, still being mean and angry.  We had banished her together, you and I, me finding the words to help you forgive yourself for not having her (as if you had had any control over that) and us finding the words for you to use in talking to that spirit, to tell her that her behavior was unacceptable, just as a mother would talk to a obdurant child.  That seemed to ease you greatly.

You needed the morphine – just small amounts – more often.  More people came and went.  We talked about your excitement about whatever came next.  And we talked about your biggest fear – fear that my Father would be mad at you when you saw him on the other side, that he wouldn’t have forgiven you for something that you blamed yourself for, something that I know he never blamed you for, no matter what words I used to try to convince you otherwise.

More people came and went.  I remember the quality of the light of the day, just as I remembered the quality of light on the day the Kelsea was born.  It was a slow, gentle light, lingering and warm, but clear in its waning, fading in beauty, dipping and deepening into dusk, then darkness.

We talked and talked.  You were getting…frisky? Cocky?  Rambunctious?  You were talking about getting up to the Pearly Gates and kicking St. Peter’s ass.  I never did know where that came from, but more power to you.

You wanted to see one person in particular, but he had had surgery that morning and couldn’t come.  You had something she wanted to tell him, but you finally decided that he already knew.  And you let it go.

[As I was writing this, I noticed my reference’s to my Mother changed from “you” to “she” about this time, a sign of letting go, perhaps.]

The hospice chaplain came.  I spoke to her out in the hallway, and couldn’t help but cry.  I didn’t cry much the last few days.  Mother didn’t want me to cry and so I didn’t.  But Jodi, the chaplain was so genuine, it was impossible not to let some tears flow.  I told her that she needed to talk, that there was something she needed to find peace around, before she could let go.  After Jodi left, she was calmer – she had found a certain peace.  I never knew what was spoken between them.  It didn’t matter.  It only mattered that she had released that last burden.

Things felt like they happened quickly after that, and then slowly.  Jackie, her home care nurse, came to visit.  It made her so happy.  “It’s my angel,” she said.  She always thought that way about Jackie.  Jackie too took me into the other room and told me that it was her time.  “Have you noticed that smell?  It’s the smell of death,” she said.  “I know that smell.”  Jackie was a big, beautiful, joyful, compassionate woman.  She told me that she’d tell the night nurse what to do, about preparing the body, that I shouldn’t worry.  She hugged me.

As the afternoon faded, she started to fade.  She became less lucid. She wasn’t talking so much.  She was hurting more.  I was slipping the small dropper of morphine between her lips more often.  I was the only one who could give it to her. I felt like her pain was in my hands.  It was getting late.  We sat with her, my uncle and brother on one side, me on the other.  She had stopped talking long ago, her eyes were closed now, her breathing slowing and labored. She would groan and twist sometimes, and I would give her another taste of the morphine.  I did not know if she was hurting, but I could not stand to think she might be, and couldn’t tell me, and I was doing nothing to ease her pain.

The waitress at their favorite restaurant called, and told me to light a white candle in front of her, and encourage her to go toward the light.  We did.  We sat and talked quietly.  We sat in silence.  We sat through the night.  E-Bro went to rest of a while.  It was calm.  I could feel her struggling to leave her body, as if her very spirit was working hard to let go, to get out, to be free.  Finally, somehow, we could tell her something had changed.  Maybe it was her breathing.  Something.  My uncle went to get my brother from the couch.  We sat again, the three of us, encouraging her to go.  I stroked her hair, whispered to her, kept my hand on her heart.  It slowed.  Her breaths came farther and farther apart, more and more shallow.

Until they stopped all together.

December 11, 2006:

You had slept.  I had only dozed, for the ninth night in a row.  I had gotten up a dozen times from the bed next to yours to check on you, to be sure you were still breathing, like a new nervous new mother does with an infant.  You would moan every so often.  When you awoke in the morning, you looked over at me.  “Am I still here?” you asked.  “Yep,” I replied, “unless I’m dead too.”  “Damn,” you said.

We talked then, about the pain, about how you wanted to go and were unsure why you were still here.  You asked me then, if I would help you go if you did not go by yourself today.  Which told me how much you were hurting.  We talked about how I would do it, with the morphine.  I would have done anything for you.  But I could not commit to killing you.  I said, “Let’s see how it goes today.”  I couldn’t say yes – but I couldn’t say no.

The quality of the day changed after that talk.  It felt like when you’re getting ready for a journey – which you were.  We were down to just the orange sherbet now.  I would slip a little between your dry lips  (no amount of lip balm seemed to keep them moist for long) and you would smile this blissful little smile.  We talked about the little blonde daughter that you had never had, that one time when you had an early miscarriage, and how she had always haunted you, and not in a nice way.  How you had longed for her (I tried not to be jealous, not to feel like somehow I hadn’t been daughter enough for you.)  How you could see her hovering around now, still being mean and angry.  We had banished her together, you and I, me finding the words to help you forgive yourself for not having her (as if you had had any control over that) and us finding the words for you to use in talking to that spirit, to tell her that her behavior was unacceptable, just as a mother would talk to a obdurant child.  That seemed to ease you greatly.

You needed the morphine – just small amounts – more often.  More people came and went.  We talked about your excitement about whatever came next.  And we talked about your biggest fear – fear that my Father would be mad at you when you saw him on the other side, that he wouldn’t have forgiven you for something that you blamed yourself for, something that I know he never blamed you for, no matter what words I used to try to convince you otherwise.

More people came and went.  I remember the quality of the light of the day, just as I remembered the quality of light on the day the Kelsea was born.  It was a slow, gentle light, lingering and warm, but clear in its waning, fading in beauty, dipping and deepening into dusk, then darkness.

We talked and talked.  You were getting…frisky? Cocky?  Rambunctious?  You were talking about getting up to the Pearly Gates and kicking St. Peter’s ass.  I never did know where that came from, but more power to you.

You wanted to see one person in particular, but he had had surgery that morning and couldn’t come.  You had something she wanted to tell him, but you finally decided that he already knew.  And you let it go.

[As I was writing this, I noticed my reference’s to my Mother changed from “you” to “she” about this time, a sign of letting go, perhaps.]

The hospice chaplain came.  I spoke to her out in the hallway, and couldn’t help but cry.  I didn’t cry much the last few days.  Mother didn’t want me to cry and so I didn’t.  But Jodi, the chaplain was so genuine, it was impossible not to let some tears flow.  I told her that she needed to talk, that there was something she needed to find peace around, before she could let go.  After Jodi left, she was calmer – she had found a certain peace.  I never knew what was spoken between them.  It didn’t matter.  It only mattered that she had released that last burden.

Things felt like they happened quickly after that, and then slowly.  Jackie, her home care nurse, came to visit.  It made her so happy.  “It’s my angel,” she said.  She always thought that way about Jackie.  Jackie too took me into the other room and told me that it was her time.  “Have you noticed that smell?  It’s the smell of death,” she said.  “I know that smell.”  Jackie was a big, beautiful, joyful, compassionate woman.  She told me that she’d tell the night nurse what to do, about preparing the body, that I shouldn’t worry.  She hugged me.

As the afternoon faded, she started to fade.  She became less lucid. She wasn’t talking so much.  She was hurting more.  I was slipping the small dropper of morphine between her lips more often.  I was the only one who could give it to her. I felt like her pain was in my hands.  It was getting late.  We sat with her, my uncle and brother on one side, me on the other.  She had stopped talking long ago, her eyes were closed now, her breathing slowing and labored. She would groan and twist sometimes, and I would give her another taste of the morphine.  I did not know if she was hurting, but I could not stand to think she might be, and couldn’t tell me, and I was doing nothing to ease her pain.

The waitress at their favorite restaurant called, and told me to light a white candle in front of her, and encourage her to go toward the light.  We did.  We sat and talked quietly.  We sat in silence.  We sat through the night.  E-Bro went to rest of a while.  It was calm.  I could feel her struggling to leave her body, as if her very spirit was working hard to let go, to get out, to be free.  Finally, somehow, we could tell her something had changed.  Maybe it was her breathing.  Something.  My uncle went to get my brother from the couch.  We sat again, the three of us, encouraging her to go.  I stroked her hair, whispered to her, kept my hand on her heart.  It slowed.  Her breaths came farther and farther apart, more and more shallow.

Until they stopped all together.

December 11, 2006:

You had slept.  I had only dozed, for the ninth night in a row.  I had gotten up a dozen times from the bed next to yours to check on you, to be sure you were still breathing, like a new nervous new mother does with an infant.  You would moan every so often.  When you awoke in the morning, you looked over at me.  “Am I still here?” you asked.  “Yep,” I replied, “unless I’m dead too.”  “Damn,” you said.

We talked then, about the pain, about how you wanted to go and were unsure why you were still here.  You asked me then, if I would help you go if you did not go by yourself today.  Which told me how much you were hurting.  We talked about how I would do it, with the morphine.  I would have done anything for you.  But I could not commit to killing you.  I said, “Let’s see how it goes today.”  I couldn’t say yes – but I couldn’t say no.

The quality of the day changed after that talk.  It felt like when you’re getting ready for a journey – which you were.  We were down to just the orange sherbet now.  I would slip a little between your dry lips  (no amount of lip balm seemed to keep them moist for long) and you would smile this blissful little smile.  We talked about the little blonde daughter that you had never had, that one time when you had an early miscarriage, and how she had always haunted you, and not in a nice way.  How you had longed for her (I tried not to be jealous, not to feel like somehow I hadn’t been daughter enough for you.)  How you could see her hovering around now, still being mean and angry.  We had banished her together, you and I, me finding the words to help you forgive yourself for not having her (as if you had had any control over that) and us finding the words for you to use in talking to that spirit, to tell her that her behavior was unacceptable, just as a mother would talk to a obdurant child.  That seemed to ease you greatly.

You needed the morphine – just small amounts – more often.  More people came and went.  We talked about your excitement about whatever came next.  And we talked about your biggest fear – fear that my Father would be mad at you when you saw him on the other side, that he wouldn’t have forgiven you for something that you blamed yourself for, something that I know he never blamed you for, no matter what words I used to try to convince you otherwise.

More people came and went.  I remember the quality of the light of the day, just as I remembered the quality of light on the day the Kelsea was born.  It was a slow, gentle light, lingering and warm, but clear in its waning, fading in beauty, dipping and deepening into dusk, then darkness.

We talked and talked.  You were getting…frisky? Cocky?  Rambunctious?  You were talking about getting up to the Pearly Gates and kicking St. Peter’s ass.  I never did know where that came from, but more power to you.

You wanted to see one person in particular, but he had had surgery that morning and couldn’t come.  You had something she wanted to tell him, but you finally decided that he already knew.  And you let it go.

[As I was writing this, I noticed my reference’s to my Mother changed from “you” to “she” about this time, a sign of letting go, perhaps.]

The hospice chaplain came.  I spoke to her out in the hallway, and couldn’t help but cry.  I didn’t cry much the last few days.  Mother didn’t want me to cry and so I didn’t.  But Jodi, the chaplain was so genuine, it was impossible not to let some tears flow.  I told her that she needed to talk, that there was something she needed to find peace around, before she could let go.  After Jodi left, she was calmer – she had found a certain peace.  I never knew what was spoken between them.  It didn’t matter.  It only mattered that she had released that last burden.

Things felt like they happened quickly after that, and then slowly.  Jackie, her home care nurse, came to visit.  It made her so happy.  “It’s my angel,” she said.  She always thought that way about Jackie.  Jackie too took me into the other room and told me that it was her time.  “Have you noticed that smell?  It’s the smell of death,” she said.  “I know that smell.”  Jackie was a big, beautiful, joyful, compassionate woman.  She told me that she’d tell the night nurse what to do, about preparing the body, that I shouldn’t worry.  She hugged me.

As the afternoon faded, she started to fade.  She became less lucid. She wasn’t talking so much.  She was hurting more.  I was slipping the small dropper of morphine between her lips more often.  I was the only one who could give it to her. I felt like her pain was in my hands.  It was getting late.  We sat with her, my uncle and brother on one side, me on the other.  She had stopped talking long ago, her eyes were closed now, her breathing slowing and labored. She would groan and twist sometimes, and I would give her another taste of the morphine.  I did not know if she was hurting, but I could not stand to think she might be, and couldn’t tell me, and I was doing nothing to ease her pain.

The waitress at their favorite restaurant called, and told me to light a white candle in front of her, and encourage her to go toward the light.  We did.  We sat and talked quietly.  We sat in silence.  We sat through the night.  E-Bro went to rest of a while.  It was calm.  I could feel her struggling to leave her body, as if her very spirit was working hard to let go, to get out, to be free.  Finally, somehow, we could tell her something had changed.  Maybe it was her breathing.  Something.  My uncle went to get my brother from the couch.  We sat again, the three of us, encouraging her to go.  I stroked her hair, whispered to her, kept my hand on her heart.  It slowed.  Her breaths came farther and farther apart, more and more shallow. 

Until they stopped all together.

The day my Mother died, my brother and I packed up all her remaining things, dividing them between us and the donation people.  We then loaded her car and I drove off to Colorado.  Most of the boxes went into the shed.  And there they’ve sat.  I’ve opened maybe two of them, and that was two years ago – it was too painful.  Now that I’m in a better headspace around losing her, I am determined to start going through the boxes.

I brought two of them home yesterday and opened them.  One contained a narrow, metal, three-sided filigree rim that looks like it might have come from a tray or a shelf.  In other words, I have no idea what it is or why I wanted to keep it.  Hmm.

When I opened the second box, a wave of my Mother’s scent wafted forth.  It was wonderful.  Everyone has their own scent, and you don’t even notice it sometimes until that person is gone, but I always loved the way my Mother smelled – it was  a combination of subtle perfume, lavender, and just mommy.  It swept me back, so far back, back to when I was a small child flopping on the laundry on my parents’ bed, back to laps and cuddles, back to looking through her closets and trying on her shoes, back to hugs when I returned as a young woman, back to the last time I cried with my head in her lap.

Back to a good place.  A sweet place.  A poignant place.

The box itself contained silver candlesticks that I don’t remember and four silver-plated goblets that I had forgotten, but that instantly transported me to standing before the fireplace looking at them on the mantel.  Amazing that a box that contained household objects and not personal things like perfume or clothes, could still hold so much of her.  But the few things she kept when she sold the house all held so much of our family, our history, our love for each other.

I am not yet ready to open another box, even though it was not a bad experience.  It did leave me doing that thing where you think, “I need Aunt Ene’s sugar cookie recipe.  I’ll call Mother.  Oh….”.  So I guess I have to take it one little step at a time.

I don’t dream often about my father.  But I did last night.  His death was devastating, but did not move into the “complicated grief” issue that I had with my mother.  In fact, this was the first year that the anniversary of his death passed without my taking note.  It was March 5th, five years ago. I feel a little guilty about that, though I know that feeling is pointless.

But last night, I dreamed that he died.  It was complex and bizarre, as all of my dreams are.  In the dream, I could feel the heartbreaking pain that his death caused me.  It was bad enough that I emerged from the depths of sleep, and as I did so, I realized that yes, he had died, he really had, years ago.  The dream was like having him die all over again, which is the only blessing about losing your parents – it can’t happen again.  I awoke sobbing.  I had been depressed anyway yesterday, and this was the final icing on the straw camel’s back.  I was devastated.  I cried through the sunrise, then went and took a bath.

My dreams sometimes make me fear sleep.  I curl into my feather bed at night, cold pillows against my cheek, snuggled under the down comforter, the Caribbean Blue fleece that my mother bought for me, and the blue and white woven blanket that I bought in Mexico with my niece.  It’s all soft and so comfortable.  I’ve never been a good sleeper, so I usually take something to help me sleep.  I think I’m going to stop doing that.  I may lose a few nights, but my body is telling me that my mind isn’t playing fair with the sleep-aids.

I cannot bear to wake feeling so alone, so destroyed.  Right now, in the light of the early afternoon, I look forward to sleeping unaided.  Even if it’s a short sleep. Perhaps the dreams will be easier.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my concern for my own mental health around the mourning of my Mother.  I did some research about the phenomenon that psychologists call “complicated grief” (which I labelled for myself “profound grief” because that’s how I felt it).

But that same day, I wrote about a dream I had.  A dream in which my Mother was hugging me.  A dream so vivid in its physical sensation that I could still feel her hugging me when I awoke.  A dream that was a visitation.  A dream that I never wanted to end.  But end it did. 

That day, the dream was on my mind quite a bit.  I felt odd.  And the next day, I felt….better.  I felt like, somehow, my Mother’s death had found its little nook in my soul, where I could tuck it and have it — and me — be comfortable, be at peace.

I’ve checked in since – it’s been over a week – and the sense of a weight being lifted is still there.  The darkness that has shifted in me like fine black sand since her passing is gone, faded, lightened.  I keep waiting for it to come back, waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I don’t believe that’s going to happen.  It – or maybe I – just feel different.

When I was contemplating my complicated grief earlier, it was feeling unbearable.  I told a friend that I was concerned, that I felt stuck in it, and I didn’t want it anymore, but I didn’t know how to fix it.  That I was thinking about going back to a therapist to discuss it, even though that’s the last thing I can afford now.  We had that conversation the night before I had the dream.  Perhaps my Mother, or my subconscious, needed me to get to the point where I could say “I want this to stop.  I want to let this go,” before the universe could spin things around to a resolution.

I have not dreamed about her since, which is soothing and surprising, because I would dream about her most nights.  But Kelsea, my daughter with the shine, had a dream last night.  She dreamed I was standing in the doorway of her bedroom, and that my Mother was standing behind me.  And I didn’t notice my Mother.  And she was smiling at Kelsea.  She said it felt like a visitation, not a dream.  It made me feel like it was a sign that all is right in this cross-section of our spirits now.

It made me smile.  I think we have both found some peace.

It’s a vegetable day.  Did a little work, but mostly felt like an asparagus stalk.  Guess that’s better than feeling like a cabbage. Though an old boyfriend who used to live in Paris did call me “ma petite chou-chou”, which I think means “my little cabbage.”

Channel-surfing, I came across a reality show called “Little Miss Perfect”, about a child’s beauty pageant by that name. Unbelievable stuff.  One mom said that she started her daughter in pageants at five months old.  Seriously?  So I guess your baby told you that’s what she wanted to do?  It’s nothing to do with YOU, right?  One of the moms was so bummed out when her daughter forgot her “Wow” routine that she just sat up against a wall and wept.  Poor little girl.  It’s hard enough to be a kid and want to please your parents without having that pressure on you.  And of course, my head goes to JonBenet Ramsey.  It just seems so wrong.

The Atkins Diet is going pretty well.  I had a day off yesterday though, and that was very nice.

I am getting very edgy about my job ending.  And yet, I am doing nothing.  What’s up with that?

Tulips for Valentine’s Day were lovely.

I dreamed about my Mom last night.  As I woke up, I could feel her ams around me in a hug.  I didn’t want to wake up.  I am wondering if I am suffering from Prolonged Grief.  I cannot seem to accept her death and it’s been over three years now.

Kelsea and I have become addicted to San Pellegrino sparkling mineral water. Maybe it’s the lithium in it that perks us up.

So with this quiet, contemplative day, I think I’m feeling depressed.  I’m not sure why.

How can I have a full brain and yet not one interesting thought?  Oh, well…perhaps tomorrow.  TIme to go workout.

I’m not a morning person, as I think I’ve hinted at before.  Neither is Kelsea, though interestingly, she used to be.  As a baby, she would wake up early and happy, and I recall saying that I was so thankful for that, because her life would have been shortened significantly had she woken up early and grumpy.  Now, as a teenager, waking her up is harder than waking myself up, and that’s saying something.

Nevertheless, I DO get up (and so does she).  This morning, as I was puttering around the kitchen making breakfast (gasp! yes, it’s true) and doing dishes (gasp gasp!), I found myself singing.  Now, let’s get one thing straight.  I don’t sing.  Nope.  I don’t. 

It’s not that I don’t have a nice singing voice.  It’s actually okay, if I say so myself.  I sing when I’m by myself in the car – along to the radio, or, back in the days when I didn’t have a car radio, as a radio substitute. 

So I know my voice isn’t ghastly.  It’s just that singing around other people makes me feel incredibly self-conscious.  I could take this to the Red Couch and try to analyze why my voice makes me shy (always hated participating in class, you can’t get me drunk enough to do karaoke, etc.) but I always loved dancing on stage.  We’ll just save that for another time.

Back to this morning.  I was singing.  I am not self-conscious about singing around Kelsea.  (And Kelsea likes to sing – she’s been in choir at school for two or three years now.)  I used to sing her lullabies when she was little – she used to ask for them.  I think I am almost unconscious of singing around her.  So, I was doing my own rendition of “The Lumberjack Song”,

 

and then launched into “Dancing Cheek to Cheek”,

when I realized that I was being like my Mother. 

Usually my Mother was alone in the kitchen when she was cooking (lazy, unhelpful slugs that her children were).  And so she would sing.  I discovered, upon reflection this morning, that that’s how I learned and came to love so many old tunes from the ’40s and earlier – because she used to sing them in the kitchen.  It was a lovely, warm feeling to know that somehow I had this part of her embedded in my soul.

Mother had a beautiful singing voice.  She sang lullabies to us, just as I did to Kelsea, and just as E-Bro does to his kids.  I was so homesick after I moved to Colorado, that she made a cassette of herself singing all of my old favorite lullabies.  I have only played it once.  It was entirely too poignant.  But I have it.  (Actually, I really need to rescue it from Pat’s house.) 

Because I never sang around her, she never really knew what my singing voice was like.  But I remember as vividly as if it were yesterday, one Christmas Eve.  I was about 17 and I’d been in tears in the early part of the evening.  I had been working my ass off at the restaurant over Christmas break, and just hadn’t been able to get in the Christmas spirit.  That had never happened to me before, and I just didn’t know what to do.  So I cried on my Mother’s shoulder.  She was her usual sympathetic and encouraging self, and took her treasured little Nativity set and put it up in my bedroom to see if that would help.  It did, a little. 

Our family went, as we always did, to the late Christmas Eve service at Duke Chapel, and while we were there, the spirit came upon me.  

I was singing “Angels We Have Heard On High” (or whatever the name of that carol is) and putting my whole soul into it (easy to do when you’re in a crowd).  Standing next to my Mother, I looked over at her, and she was looking at me with this expression of love in her eyes that was absolutely indescribable.  It brings tears to my own when I think of it now.  And she smiled at me as she was singing, with her beautiful voice, and her smile reached her eyes and made them even more radiant.

On the way to school today (yes, we were late again, ) I told Kelsea that although she didn’t know it now, she would discover that she’s unconsciously listening to me sing and picking up on all these old songs, which are the ones my Mother sang in her kitchen. 

When she’s in college, hanging out with her friends, someday, somewhere, she’ll hear one of those old, seldom-heard tunes, and it will strike a chord of amazement within her, and she’ll remember that her Mother used to sing that song in the mornings in the kitchen.

And the cycle of love will continue.

Not a new year, no, but another anniversary.  Three years ago, in the coming small hours of the morning, my Mother died.  I just read my blog from last year, dated a year ago tomorrow, talking about my feelings and actions around this day. 

I am not as emotional this year.  I had a mini-meltdown after a glass of wine on Tuesday, which made me want to drive my truck into the frozen lake that night on the way home from work.  I had a little teariness just now when talking to Mr. GF, who called just as I was reading last year’s post. 

I recall going to a grief seminar put on by Hospice about a year after my dad died.  As I was sitting there, among a roomful of people, listening, I had the most intense urge just to put my head down on the table and go to sleep.  It was remarkable.  I realized then that that feeling, that intense exhaustion, is one way that your core expresses grief.  It doesn’t know what else to do with such a powerful, painful feeling.

That incredible tiredness is what I am feeling today, have been feeling since I got home from dropping Kelsea off at school.  Now, I watch the clock, count ahead two hours for North Carolina time, and remember what I was doing three years ago at this hour.  She was very close to fading for the last time.  I had asked the Hospice chaplin to speak with her, to help her resolve something that was keeping her from letting go, and I think just around now, they were talking.  I was never privy to that conversation, but whatever Jodi said worked.

I could so have used my Mother’s support this past year.  It has been a year of loss, sorrow, confusion, self-doubt, with some moments of bliss and hope.  She would have been there for me every step of the way and talked me through some of my own muddlements.  I know people say “Oh, she’s still with you. She’s always with you.”  It’s true, she is, in a way, but she has moved on, as she was so excited about doing, and she knows I need to stand on my own without her.  So I can feel her watching, but not helping.  She trusts me to rely on my own strength, as she always did.  That strength was one of her finest legacies.  She had it.  She taught me to have it.

But tonight, I am as tired as she was this night three years ago.

November 2018
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