Sitting here in a tea house, enjoying a pot of black tea on this cold, rainy, winter morning. While it’s not Early Gray – I inherited the dislike of that from my Mom – it’s gray outside. The river water is rushing on the other side of the window, and the sidewalk is a little more vacant than usual. It’s a good day to be where I am. It’s also a day of remembrance and reflection.
Ten years ago today my Mom took the journey up to Heaven. I waver on my emotions around that fact. Some years I’m a wreck, others I’m happy in celebration of the amazing woman she was. The amazing life she had. The amazing Mom she was to my sister and me – the kind of Mom that inspired me to be just like her. She is a high image to live up to.
Sure, we had our moments where I told her I hated her (what teenage girl doesn’t scream that at her mother???). Then there was the time I kicked her straight in the eye as she was trying to put my shoes on so we could go pick up Dad from the airport. She ended up going to the hospital while our neighbor went to the airport. I was sorry, eventually.
I remember nights when our Dad would wrap my sister and I up in our sleeping bags, cozied up in the back seat of the car, so we could pick Mom up from work. She was a nurse and worked nights when we were really little.
I remember the smell of her Jean Nate perfume, the way her hair looked just perfect after her weekly Friday appointment, and the way she laughed after too much “giggle juice.” Maybe that’s where my love of bubbly champagne comes from?
I remember all too well the moment she left, her transition. I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember all the moments up to that moment. It was the worst moment of my life. It was the worst thing I ever had witnessed. Watching someone die is not something I would ever wish upon anyone, not even my worst enemy. It is something you can’t ever take back. You can’t ever un-see that.
For months it haunted me. I lay in bed exhausted but terrified to close my eyes because I knew the second I did, that image would burn itself into my vision again – and I was trying so hard to not picture that. I’m surprised I can actually write about it now without turning away from the page.
I guess that’s what time does. A decade. Time heals.
A lot has happened in my life over the past ten years. The biggest, by far, my children. Becoming a Mom myself. While an incredibly happy time, it was also an incredibly difficult time. Most people don’t know that the month my Mom died was also the month I got pregnant – I just didn’t know it at the time. Will and I had been trying for a while with no luck. So of course the month my Mom wasn’t anticipated to get out of the hospital, was the month we weren’t “really” trying. It’s true: when you stop stressing over it and let go of the pressure, bam! you’re pregnant. Yeah, there were a few other little things that played a part, you know, but in the big picture, it was the not-worrying about it that created our first child.
It was hard, to put it mildly, to be pregnant with our first child without having a Mom to talk to. I couldn’t ask her about her pregnancy, I couldn’t ask her about childbirth, I couldn’t ask her about anything. While all my new mommy friends had their mothers to get advice or help, I had no one. It was lonely. It was hard.
I had friends, and I had Will’s Mom, who was three thousand miles away on the other side of the country, but I was without my Mom.
Probably the hardest part of remembering this day, ten years later, is the hard truth that my boys will never be able to sit on Grandma Olga’s lap while she reads them a story. They will never know her smell, her laugh or the sound of her voice. They will never feel how soft her skin was in the gentle grasp of her hand.
I have wanted to sit down with our boys and go through pictures and tell them about her. I haven’t. Yet.
It’s been ten years, Mom. An entire decade. You would have been 77. You and Dad would have been married more than 50 years.
On this day, enjoying my tea from the comforts and warmth of inside, I sit here alone, surrounded by people. I miss you Mom. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of you.
What brings me peace today, with a somber smile of reflection and a quiet, hidden tear down my cheek, is knowing that someday I will see you again. In Heaven, I will be with you again. I know you are with me every day, and I know you hear me. I feel you. Spiritually.
I miss your touch. There’s nothing like your mother’s embrace.
Mom makes everything better.
I reflect not only on how my life has felt void from not having my Mom here with me, and I know I’m not the only one who has ever lost a parent, their own mother. I reflect also on ten years of life. Changes, trials, celebrations and transitions. It’s all a journey. My journey.
I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if I had not gone through the journey that has been my life. It’s my unique journey. A story written by nobody else. No other human being can write their story with the exact words that are my story. How cool is that? I have a story that nobody else on earth has, not in the exact way that mine is written.
You have a story that nobody else on earth has, not in the exact way that yours is written.
Ten years – depending on how you look at it – is a short time, or a long time. It’s the same time, no matter how you look at it. Time is not different. It is. It is constant, and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
How are you going to use the next ten years? What do you have to reflect upon from the past ten years?
We’re coming up on the last weeks of 2016. There isn’t a more perfect time to ask ourselves those questions. To give yourself permission, to spend time with yourself, to find those answers. As I sit in reflection about my Mom today, I also am allowing myself to reflect on my own life. Where I’ve been, where I want to go, how I’m going to get there.
My wish for you, in honor of my Mom, is that you don’t take for granted the loved ones in your life. Hug your Mom – if you can. Without her, you would not be here. Tell her you love her. Share her essence and memories with your children. Life is not guaranteed. There is no promise of how long you will get to love someone on earth. Heaven, however, awaits us all…
Here’s to the Best Version of YOU!