Wednesday, March 31, 2010

a peaceful ending...

It seemed as if my state of mind controlled the weather.

I’m not sure if my mood mirrored what was happening outside, or it was the other way around. Frost covered the greening lawn. The crocus peeking their purple heads through the white crusted ground. The promise of spring held in a frosty standstill.

Dense fog rolled in off the lake making visibility difficult this early in the morning. It was trash collection day in my neighborhood and in my heavy pre-cold, gunk filled head, I had forgotten to take out our containers the night before. Those guys come early, so I didn’t bother to shower or change before lugging all the waste to the tree lawn.

No one was out this early. There weren’t even any cars heading off to work yet. I was relieved that under the cover of darkness no one could see my heavy eyelids from a night of restless slumber. Too many things on my mind to allow me to sleep. Properly.

I tossed. I turned. I couldn’t get comfortable.

My elbow was throbbing. I know I should go see a specialist, but have been putting it off. The pain of the tendonitis at times unbearable. It hurts. How did I manage to strain it so badly? Everything I read tells me to let it heal by resting. Sure thing. No problem. I’ll just not use my arm for 6 weeks…as if.

I turn to my right side to maybe give the left a stretch, some relief from this discomfort. In the darkness my eyes can see the familiar photos of my family on the bureau beneath the west window. The large portrait of all four of us when I was but two. A snapshot photo of my parents on their wedding day as they exited the sanctuary. A studio photograph of my brother and I; big, laughing smiles with our backs to each other, arms crossed captured for all time. I was very pregnant in this photo and gave birth to my daughter three weeks later. There’s the solemn sepia photo of my maternal grandparents. One of my brother and my mom I took a few years back up at his house on the lake. And my favorite; both of my parents and my daughter holding Dad's prize tomatoes in front of their home just months before my mothers first stroke.

I have next to them a framed copy of ‘A Mother’s Love‘ that we had displayed with the photos set around for my mom’s funeral calling hours.

She never failed to do her best, her heart was true and tender;
She toiled hard for those she loved, and left them to remember.
A loving mother, kind and true, her equals on this earth are few;
A happy life, a peaceful end, she died as she lived; everybody’s friend.
If we had this world to give, we would give it and more;
To see our darling Mother, come smiling through the door.
Those who have a mother, should tend her with care;
For you never know her value, 'till you see her vacant chair.

The moon was almost full and spread a soft light into my bedroom. There were cirrus clouds wisping over a portion giving the low, full moon an eerie appearance. Through the wavy glass of my century home windows it had both a calming and unsettling effect.

I could lay to the left and see the moon, or to the right and see the photos, the mementoes and makeshift shrine to my mom I’ve unconsciously created in my bedroom. No win situation there. There wasn’t anything to do but have a soft cry.

I miss my mom.

Easter was her favorite holiday. I always bought her a corsage. We would go into church for Easter Sunday and my mother would look so proud to have her family with her. Her head held high, color on her cheeks, she would greet her friends and introduce us to each, although we’ve known them for years.

“Lucille! You look lovely! You know Nancy and Charles, and my granddaughter…don’t you?”, she say, gently pushing us forward into the line of pinching.

“Oh, why yes.”, Mrs. Shurtz responded. “How beautiful. And big!” she’d say as she reached for my daughters cheek.

We’ve known Mrs. Shurtz for years. She is the epitome of classic lady. Matching handbag and high heel shoes, proper dresses straight from the 1950’s. Always the right amount of jewelry; a brooch, a necklace and some ear fobs. On Easter she’d even wear gloves and a hat. And if my memory serves, she even had cat shaped silver eyeglasses, flowers etched on the temples.

Yes. We knew the Shurtzs, and the Meekers, and the Mauers and Andersens. But this was a ritual that my mother enjoyed, and so we let her introduce us once again to all those she knew. This was her moment, her time. And I would smile politely and make small talk and shake hands.

And my mother would glow.

Easter is coming rapidly upon us and it will be the first one without my mom. Her birthday is just 5 days later. I suppose this is why I’ve been in a bit of a ‘funk’, as my ex used to say. I waiver between gratitude and remorse. What should I do? How should I go about honoring my mothers seemingly short existence on this earth?

My brother and I have talked about it. Our family is getting together for Easter, but we both don’t feel quite ‘right’ about attending Moms church this Sunday. Part of me feels as if we should be there…and part of me thinks that I should perhaps find a new ritual to follow. I don’t know if the congregation would understand my crying when they sing the Hallelujah chorus. Nothing like a well known visitor wailing between stanzas.

Did my mom know how much she meant to me? Did I tell her I loved her enough?

The fog stayed all day. The sun only broke through once. What was supposed to be a lovely afternoon by the weatherman’s predictions, turned out to be cold, foggy and damp. One of those days that chilled you to the bone. One that crawled under your skin and you couldn’t shake no matter how many pairs of socks you put on.

I went to bed early. I took some cold medicine and hoped that I could rest. Shut down my brain for a bit and recharge. I silently talked to my mom. Asked for her help. And fell asleep.

This morning the sun woke me up.
And I feel better.

Did I bring on that foggy chilled front with my thoughts? Or did my thoughts reflect the fog. A question of which I may never know the answer. But thanks Mom for making the sun shine for me today. I know I’m still going to be smeeshy as the holiday approaches. Because I cried writing this.

And once again while proof reading it.
I think I need to get some waterproof mascara.

I love you Mom. XXXOOO



  1. i miss my mom too. i lay awake a lot wondering if she knows how much we loved her and how much we truly miss her. because of the circumstances and issues at the time of her death its hard to come up with an answer that will soothe my soul and comfort me.

    its so hard to lose a mom!

  2. This *right here* was a touching tribute to what was obviously a beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing it.

    I won't offer you platitudes...just a wish for peace.

  3. I'm sure she'd be proud to read this-and sing along with you and cry along with you in church on Easter.

  4. Aw. I am sure that if you feel this way now she know you loved her during her lifetime. Such a nice tribute. Thank you.

  5. From what I see and hear around me from others that go through mourning their loved ones, I very much stand out.

    I lost my mom a little over 3 years ago. It was sudden, unexpected, that phone call 6am on a Monday morning.

    A lot of people have commented on how I act around the important days (birthday, day she passed away). Or more accuratly how I don't act. I don't grieve on those days, I'm not down, somber, distracted, nothing like that.

    Because of my close relationship with my mom most people expected me to fall apart. I never really did, and I think it's because of the relationship I had with her.

    There were no regrets, for the last 14 years of her life we were not living in the same country. She saw that as a great reason to travel more. Sure we would have loved to spend more time together, but because we did not get a lot of time together, we made the most of it when we were in the same country.

    Whenever I think of my mom and I happen to start thinking about her death, or what we missed out on sharing because of it, my mind just gently nudges those thoughts and moves on to all the stuff we did do, that we did share...

    My wife lost her mother late last year, she's asked me how I do what I do, and I'm lost for words.

    I don't know how... it just started to happen... I think it helped that I already lived for 14 years without her right next to me. We said goodbye sincerely evertime I had to go back home again, especially when she was diagnosed with cancer. Even after she was cleared I never just walked out the door with a slight wave 'until next time' sort of goodbye.

    The more I see of grief the less I understand it, especially how it strikes people and how they deal with it. I think the experience is so deeply personal that all anyone can do is share their own experience.

    Here was mine, thank you for yours...

  6. @Genesis- Thank you. And I'm sorry for your loss as well. I don't think there is anything like the hole left when a mother passes....

    @Me- your words are quite comforting. Thank you so very much. :-)

    @Oddyoddyo13- I am sure you are right...although she held a tune much better than I did. Chances are she'd be crying DUE to my singing! :-) Thank you for your comment.

    @LPC- Thanks Lisa...I certainly hope she did. I tell my daughter every day, just to make sure she knows. :-)

    @Eric- Thank you SO much for sharing your story with me. I was going to e-mail you directly back, as I don't know if you'll see this comment or not, but I appreciate your view on grief. It was so long before I ALLOWED myself to grieve, which is why I think some of these days that my mother loved so much is catching me up a bit. But I IS a personal thing. And not very well understood. Thanks for sharing. It means alot.


  7. I had an experience once that changed my whole perspective of death. It didn't change my missing the person I lost, but it was one of the most revealing and comforting moments of my life. I'll spill my guts in an email.

  8. Hi. I was very moved by this post. I also come from a close family and I can relate to your words. My Nan passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly and it is really hard when that anniversary comes up. Also my mum has been living with cancer these past ten years so I make every effort to spend time with her. I don't have any answers, just thanks for sharing. Your post was beautiful.

  9. She knows Nancy; she knows.
    Can you feel me sending you a really big hug?? xo

  10. Do something special on Easter to commemorate your mom. I'd like to plant a tree on my sister's birthday. One that I can see from my kitchen window every morning. This was a lovely post, Nancy.

  11. Nancy,

    There are no words to make the loss of someone you love so much feel right so to say, Your Mom knows you Love her and this tribute to her shows us your true feelings.

    Thank You for sharing.

  12. What a nice ode to your mum. We all owe her a debt of thanks, because clearly she raised you right.

  13. I love that picture. It doesn't matter whether you told her you loved her enough. You make everyone close to you feel loved. She knew.

  14. This one got my a little teary; it is so beautiful!

    I was brought back to my Papa's funeral. We all stood in a windy blizzard while we watched the casket sink slowly out of sight. The weather definitly reflected our emotion at the time. He died March 23rd 2009.

    The firsts with out him were all hard and weird and empty. But as always you go on, the traditions change slightly. You hold on to those still physically with you a little more tightly. You start to feel okay though you can't help but miss the presence of those lost.

    I'm not sure I could capture my own grief as beautifully, but it feels much the same way.
    Ya know, you feel very much alone while grieving over a loved one, but there are few who aren't familiar with it's sting.

    Sharing it helps I think.

  15. I was very touched by your post. We've had this Mom conversation before, and I am on the same page as you are. I, too, liked what Eric wrote. The loss of a mom is not the same for all of us...or, maybe, parts are the same and others not.
    I must tell you again how much I thank you for giving me the idea of my Mom ring. I rub my fingers across it often, just for a little comfort or a little reassurance.
    I'll be thinking of you as this Easter weekend approaches and you deal and move on. Never easy. Go for it.



  16. The big holidays were very hard for me, too. At first I tried to do everything just as if my mom were still there. But I'm not her and I couldn't make it work. So we started new traditions. Whatever you do to honor her will be a good thing, and then the new activities will help you remake life in her absence. All the best.

  17. Hugs, Nancy. This was beautiful. You have such lovely memories of your mom and are creating lots with Boo. The lovely sacred circle continues. More hugs to help you through the next few weeks.

  18. Thanks for this post. Yesterday was my birthday and while I received calls and best wishes from family and friends - it just wasn't the same without the standard call, card and flowers from my mom.

  19. Oh Nancy, I feel your emotion just reading this. Know she is still with you in spirit, watching, guiding, loving. Do whatever feels right for you on the special days. I like to recreate those special recipes Mom enjoyed, buy a few lilies to sniff which were her favorite, and spend a few minutes just telling her how much I miss her. Then it hits me, she would slap me silly for wasting time being sad and say-get on with it already. Plaster on a smile and face the crowd I go knowing she is right there cheering me on. Time helps, but nothing can ever replace Mom or the memories.

  20. I still pick up the phone to call her number. It's been 4 years since her death. Or something will happen and the first thing that pops in my mind is "wait till I tell Mom". It doesn't stop, but it hurts less over time.

  21. Beautifully written (as always). You honor your Mother with this -

    As for how you feel during the holiday, know that you aren't alone. There seems to be little to say that would "help" you feel better... and perhaps it's best that you just feel the way you do. Your mom is still "here" with you - she lives on in the form of your strong, vivid memories of her... and I feel lucky to have gotten to share a small bit of her.

    My grandmother's favorite time of year was Christmas... each year I visit her grave knowing she isn't "there" but somehow feeling I'm closer to where she is ... and somehow feeling she can hear me, I wish her a "Merry Christmas" and wish she was able to join us around the tree and to be able to give her a gift that makes her smile in happiness and joy. I can see in my minds eye, dozens of Christmases past shared with her and her unquestioned love for me and my brothers. I leave the cemetary, usually completely emotionally drained, but something in doing this trip is a catharsis for me. And each year the memories linger on, refreshed by their annual review.

    Enjoy the holiday - as your mother would have wanted you to...

  22. Sweet and poignant... thanks for touching my heart. My mom's been gone 20 years last February 28, and I still tear up when I hear her favorite song, or someone uses one of her pet phrases. It's a testament to how much they meant (and mean) to us. Tomorrow morning I'm posting about grief. I hope you'll check it out.
    Meanwhile, enjoy your Easter, because your daughter needs you to, and your mom would want you to.



  23. I miss my mom too. It took me forever to truly grieve her loss. I lost her at 19 to breast cancer. It's been so hard going through life without that nurturing figure.

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  24. Your so lucky to have had such a good and loving mother. I finally have that kind of relationship with my stepmom.

    I say start a new tradition with your daughter.

    Weather to mood or mood to weather. Hard to say.

  25. Awesome post, as usual my friend. Thanks for checking up on me. I'm in the middle of making our loft into a bedroom and have'nt had much time to write. I have a few posts in the pipeline that I'm working on so don't take me off of your must read list just yet. ;)

  26. Thank you for this Nancy. Losing my mum scares me. I still grieve my nana and miss her deeply and I lost her when i was 16 - it will be 25 years soon. she was too young and i often wonder what she would make of life now.
    mum knows how much i love her and i her. we make the most of our time together and know that it won't be a long time after her three battles with cancer - i fear her body won't survive a fourth. i just can't imagine how life will be without her and i know one day i will find out.

  27. I am so sorry for your loss!! Both my parents have passed away so I do know how you feel!! March was a hard month for me and then August will be hard too!! Just cry when you need to and talk about your mom with your daughter!! Take care of you!!

  28. Beautiful post Nancy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about your mother.

    My mom passed two weeks ago. Your post brought me perspective and made me feel good. Thanks.

  29. Beautiful post.
    Hope you're doing good there..=)

  30. Your mom will always be with you, Nancy... through your love for her, she will live on for you as well as for others.

    Thank you for this beautiful post - you writing about your mother makes me appreciate the fact that I have mine all the more, and it's a wonderful feeling to suddenly become aware of how lucky I am to have her with me, especially since I'm an only child and have no other close family members.

    That photo is adorable, by the way. Happy Easter to you and your loved ones! Big hugs from Prague.

  31. Oh, sweetie...this was beautiful...and sad and so tender. I know you miss your mom...I know it's so very hard without her...I know.

    My sisters and I used to get together on the day she passed away, but quickly realized that we needed to celebrate her LIFE, not her passing. Now, it's all about keeping her memory alive...any which way we can.
    Coming together...sharing memories...(all those "mom-expressions"!)

    The first of everything is always the gets a little bit easier as time goes by. You'll never forget...but that ache in your heart will lessen.


  32. This post is breathtakingly beautiful. What a lovely gift to your lovely mother! (I mean you of course!)

  33. a lovely tribute to your beloved mom and a wonderful Easter gift to the rest of us. Thank you. :)

  34. This was beautiful. A wonderful tribute to your mom. My mom's been gone 10 years and it still hurts. Most days are good, but sometimes a memory will be triggered and then it's a sharp pain to my heart.


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