Sunday, September 20, 2009

Prizes and Rocky Rides

On June 8th, Joel & I celebrated my parents' 59th wedding anniversary with them. On that same day, in this blog, I wrote a prayer thanking God for them, and asking that same God to please open The Door for my mom--to greet her with with cooler air, lighter breathing, and open arms. I admitted I was ready for her to be released from the pain and suffering that the stupid, f***ing cancer had brought upon her.

The next day, on June 9th, at the end of a very long and difficult day, I received an email from a dear friend with the subject line "Your Good Fortune." At a time when "good fortune" seemed to be totally contradictory to everything in my life, our good friend Brad indeed offered it to me in the form of great seats for good music with good friends over good food.

On June 25th, sixteen days after that email, my sweet mama walked through death's door and into God's open arms. And tonight, about three months later, that "good fortune" was realized, and I enjoyed an earthly prize for my rocky ride. A 2nd row table with Joel, (aka the love of my life), some treasured family and some great friends at Chastain Park for an Indigo Girls show. Seriously--if you know me, then you know that in this lifetime, the prize cannot get much better. And just because the cake needed some icing, after seeing them countless times in concert, and after years of waiting not-so-patiently, just three songs into their set, they played my favorite song.

"There's no way construction of this tricky plan was built by other than a Greater Hand. With a love that passes all our understanding watching closely over the journey. But what it takes to cross the great divide seems more than all the trouble I can muster up inside. We get to have some answers when we reach the other side. The prize is always worth the rocky ride."

Now this is a beautiful song regardless of where you happen to be when you hear it, but never has a song touched me so at a concert. Tears welled up in my eyes as I sat there with people who had walked alongside me on some very hard life roads these past few months, listening to a song that has assured me for many years now that regardless of the tired wood that is sometimes my life, a Greater Hand is at work making all things new, watching closely over life's journey.

I don't think I realized just how much I needed both the night and the reminder of the presence of God's Greater Hand. Amidst the threat of rain, with friends new and old all around me, I thanked God for both the rocky ride and the promised prize. As Emily reminded us all that "no one gets to miss the storm of what will be...," I realized again for the millionth time that life is indeed a journey; that we are not promised an easy road, but we are assured of that Greater Hand watching closely over us each and every step of the way, showing and giving us what we need, when we need it, despite how hard life might be from time to time.

Despite the fact that the threat of rain loomed over the night, despite the fact that the day (indeed, the week) had not gone so well, despite the fact that I enjoyed a bit too much wine and am paying (and will pay) the price these next few hours, the night was good. The night was good because God was at work. God was at work weaving the threads of my life with deeper relationships and memories that will sustain me when the storm of what will be comes my way again, bringing with it heavy downpours, thunder, lightening, and even flooding. God was at work reminding us all, every one of us there, that if the weather holds, we'll miss the point. God was at work assuring us, assuring me, that no matter how tired our wood gets, She is watching closely over the journey that is life.

And all will be well. TB2G.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Letter

Dear Mom,

Sorry it's taken me so long to write, but I just haven't been in the right frame of mind until now. And even now, I'm not sure if I am, but I have the time, a quiet morning, and a cup of coffee, and that combination often beckons me to write. And I know my soul needs it.

I hope you are able to see that while we all miss you terribly, we are doing okay. Dad is managing quite well on his own, and reaping the benefits of the many connections you made and kept through the years with weekly lunch invitations from a variety of folks. Truthfully, I think you'd be real proud of Dad--he has learned to do so much for himself, and although he's not doing things as you would do them, necessarily, he is finding his own way. Just yesterday I commented on how nicely his bed was made up, and he replied, "Well, it's not like Alice does it, but it's okay!" We both miss you in the little things at 2871--your glasses are still on the dresser in the bedroom, your books are still lying around here & there, and the refrigerator magnets are all still right where you left them. It is very much still your house. He's quite comfortable there, mind you, but it's your house.

I miss you in the little things in my day-to-day life. For instance, I need some help / advice on how to turn a shower curtain into a valence for the bathroom. I could probably figure it out, but projects like that were always more fun when we worked on them together. Do you think maybe you can find me somehow and whisper in my ear what to do? I'd really like that.

And Michael's birthday is this week, and we need to go shopping for a present for y'all to give him. You'd be so proud of him these days--his manners, his sense of humor, his swimming. He has matured so much these past few months. I remember how you always lamented that he never had time to "be little," but he's doing just fine. He really is. Pop in some time and watch him for a while if you can, okay?

Daniel misses seeing you each day after school. Dad has been good about making sure he has snacks for him, his favorites, even, but there's no visiting time. Daniel heads straight for the computer, and Dad shares space with him watching TV. I realize it's still time together, but I know he misses telling you about his day. I miss him telling you about his day. Secretly, I know you probably miss him the most, so I'd love it if you could find your own way to hug each other--you know, from here to there. Maybe he and I need to have a talk about how that might work.

Adam is doing well in school, and is a pleasant teenager to have around! His driving is improving, and he is working harder in school this year, out of necessity I suppose. AP World History and Analysis are both kicking his butt. (Sorry--I know you don't like that word, but it's the best way to describe it.) He's a really good kid. You'd be most proud of how sweet it is to Dad. He takes such good care of him, and helps him whenever he's around. I'm looking forward to all of the guys enjoying some football together this fall. If you can, I'd love for you to join me in the kitchen this afternoon as I serve up my first pot of chili today, the first day of college football. Maybe you can slice the pickles?

Oh, and speaking of football--we have new furniture, which I really wish you could see! It makes the "grown up room" in our house look so much more inviting and cozy. It's the perfect space to enjoy some quiet reading, spend time with each other, or watch a movie. There is finally "official" sitting space for at least six people, and the rug and curtains tie it all together. You would love it! Can you see it? I hope you can. I really do.

Maybe while they guys watch the game/s, you could help me a bit, too. I have some letters that need stamping and sealing and addressing. If we could do it together, we'd enjoy the time "visiting," as you would call it. And speaking of letters, I must confess. I know you'll be disappointed, but we have not yet sent all of the thank-you notes for the many things that were done for us in the last few weeks of your life here on earth, and in the weeks following your death. Since you're not here to gently nag me about it, though, it's always "next on the list, after thus-and-so." I need you to be here, Mom, to be with me. I need you to keep holding me accountable to the things you spent 43 years teaching me. Can you do that? I'm just not quite up to the challenge yet.

Yes, we are doing okay. Not great, but okay. I still cry when I look at recent pictures of you, just as I am crying now. I'm still pretty mad at that fucking cancer and all that it took from us. I'm still feeling a bit slighted at being only 43 and not having my mom around. But we're doing okay. I'm doing okay.

The hardest part, though, is on those days that get really hard--when life is coming at me in all directions and I just can't seem to get through it all--I want to call you. I know if I could, you would fret over me, tend to me, and worry a bit too much about me. It kinda bothered me when you were here with us, but now I realizy how much I miss it. Because on those days, what I really need most is just some unconditional love and support. And I know that I'd get that from you. I always did. I think that's probably what I miss the most.

So I'd love to hear from you, Mom, somehow, in some way. I know you probably have a lot going one--you're adjusting to your new surroundings, you are organizing and making friends and making connections with all the people there, and you are probably just now beginning to feel comfortable in the new-ness. But I really need you to come for a visit. Just a short one. I need a hug. I need to know that my mom is still with me, and that she still thinks I'm pretty awesome, and that she still loves and supports me unconditionally.

I just need that.


PS - Tell Hunter I said hello, and give him a big hug, okay?