I’ll cry today. I know it. Some of my tears will be triggered by tears I see on the faces of people I love and others will come at my own sadness of a relationship suspended.
Relationship suspended. I’ve cried at goodbyes before – most of us have. When our best friend takes a job thousands of miles away, we hug and cry, even though our friend is moving to something better. Why? Because we know our relationship is put on pause.
The pain used to be much worse before video calling and group meeting apps came around. When a friend moved thousands of miles away, it used to mean contacts were reduced to toll-calls (calls used to cost more money the further apart the parties were), cards and letters. We knew it meant the closeness of our friendship would fade. We knew our relationship was largely paused until we could eventually reunite and pick up right where we left off regardless of how many years passed.
Today is our official good-bye for my mother. Today is the strange, ceremonial goodbye that we humans have been doing for thousands of years. We’ll all gather as family and friends, sing her favorite hymns and read the Scriptures she held dear, and share some memories. I said my goodbye more than two weeks ago and kissed her on her forehead, but today it will be official.
We humans need closure. We hold funerals and say words to come to an ending and close the book. We eat little sandwiches and desserts made with love, we look at pictures, we tell stories and then we go home with the book supposedly closed.
Closed. In the past two weeks I have started to dial my mom’s number at least twice. I’ve thought, “I wonder how mom is doing today,” several times. I’ve stopped to snap a picture that I knew Mom would like to see more than once.
I doubt my book will close today. In fact, I know it won’t close. I’m kind of glad for that, even though it means tears of grief. I’m blessed to have these memories … so many memories.
I laugh at the memory of my mother smacking 11-year-old me over the head with a devil dog, cream-filled pastry at York Wild Animal Kingdom. I can see myself standing there with the cream filling melting down the side of my face. I had asked for a devil dog probably a thousand times since leaving our house in Auburn.
I smile at cold winter memories of painting projects on easels and hook-a-rug crafts in our little den. I turn the pages in my Bible and often think, “hey, Mom and I memorized this together.”
Memories of breakfast talks and life lessons from a woman who always had plenty to say no matter what the topic, will not fade.
I have so many memories of broken things that Mom figured out how to fix with tape, glue, bobby pins and duct tape. She had no YOUtube videos to show her what to do. She had Yankee ingenuity that refused to give up. She taught me to PUSH and look for solutions rather than just toss things aside.
Memories of her shushing Dad and I playing in church and memories of teasing her about her very bad singing voice. (She’d tell you the same!) Still, she’d make a joyful noise!
I have memories of me hiding her freshly-made coffee in the cupboard when she turned her back and memories of her swatting me playfully with a, “you’re no good, kid” when she finally found it. She said it to all three of us “no good, rotten kids” but we knew she didn’t believe that for a second. We knew family was her world.
And then, as years passed and time marched forward, I’ll hold onto memories of her first question whenever I’d call, “how are the kids” which then became “how are my babies” when great grandchildren arrived. Our talks always centered on family.
Today, we will officially close the book knowing that our relationship is suspended for awhile. We’ll say our formal goodbyes. But, my book won’t close. I know that at around 7:30 tonight, if my phone rings, I’ll expect it to be my mom calling, “I know you’re busy … fair to middling … how are my babies … this is a toll call so I’ll let you go…” and I’ll smile.
I’m going to keep my Mom book open. I’m going to let the tears come when they want and the laughs too. I had 55 years with an amazing, talented, creative, ingenius, loyal, outspoken, determined, loving, dedicated Mother encouraging me, shaping me, scolding me, coddling me and always supporting me. Why would I even consider closing that book?
Doe, Ray, Me, So, Fa … See, La, See, Doe!
Thank you, Mom. I see you everywhere I turn. You did a good job building a family, Mom. A very, very good job.
” Proverbs 6:20-21