Friday, April 19, 2019

Year Five

Five years sounds like a long time. Half a decade. In the span of life, it's not much. But, when you count them out, it kind of is a long time. Currently, it's 1/7 of my entire life. Five years is the time frame a human goes from being a new born, to being a walking, talking, reading, rational (sort of) human being. Five years can take you from being a bottom feeder in a career to climbing the ladder and making much better money. Five years can completely change your entire life.

So, how come it still feels so short?

Five years ago I said goodbye to my mom. I kissed her forehead, squeezed her hand, and knew that I'd never see her alive again. It sounds like forever ago, but it doesn't feel that way.

I'm not walking around in my grief fog anymore. I'm healed as much as you do when you lose someone who mattered more to you than most people you'll ever meet. You heal, you seem normal, but you always feel a hole in your heart knowing they are gone. I'm normal again, healthier, stronger, actually, than I ever was before. I'm healed from the darkness of grief, and most days I don't think of her and fight back tears like I did for those arduous months after she died.

But, she is still such a big part of my life. My husband and I talk about her almost daily. We find ourselves regularly saying, "I really wish [your/my] mom were here right now," or "she'd really love this."

See, the thing is, my mom lived and breathed love. She couldn't NOT give off that feeling to those around her. She was tall, fun, gentle, honest, helpful and kind. She was constant and quietly courageous. She was silly, musical and patient. She was light, if a person can be, and this was most obvious after she was gone. The corners of my parents' home never seemed so dark before then, as if the light bounced around more effortlessly with her in the room. She's not someone you forget easily.

The day she left this life, feels like so much less than five years ago. To the grieving heart, time has no meaning because every day without them can be an eternity, yet time moves on without you noticing how much has passed. I turned 30 just over two weeks after her death. I turn 35 in just over two weeks. Even writing that now has me baffled.

Didn't I just see her? Wasn't she just here, walking, talking, singing, laughing, and loving all of us so perfectly? How have I reached the mid-point of my thirties and she's not here to see the lines forming on my face, and my hair darkening and getting a few grays? I SWEAR she was just here. I swear I was JUST 29.

I still have my moments. In the quiet moments of solitude it comes in like a tsunami, and then recedes quickly, but not before destroying me for a moment. Just a few weeks ago, I was home alone, working at my computer and I looked over at a photo of her from 1989. She, my brothers, and I are squeezed into a photo booth, making silly faces. The photos are printed in a sequence of four on a strip of black and white. I laughed at how goofy we all were as kids, and then out of nowhere, I was ugly crying because HOW CAN SHE BE HERE SO FULL OF LIFE AND THEN CANCER COMES AND TAKES EVERYTHING AWAY AND NOTHING IS THE SAME? I hadn't had a moment like that in a really long time. As time passes, the tsunamis of grief are few and far between.

There is no guarantee in this life. You get to love each other for as long as you get to. And then, when one of you dies, the other gets to go on loving with no where to give it. I think sometimes that's the part of grief that hits us the most. We have all this love still in our hearts, and we can't share it because no matter where we turn, the recipient is nowhere to be found. Grief is displaced love. No matter how much love I give to others, I can't give her the love I have for her. So, I just feel stuck sometimes.

Last month, I visited my grandpa (my mom's dad) on his birthday. We had a little family dinner for him. He turned 93. When I went to leave, he gave me a kiss on the cheek and with teary eyes said, "You sure remind me of your dear mother. "

A compliment of the highest form.

I'm starting to see her face stare back at me when I look in the mirror. The older I get, my face looks more and more like her. It surprises me sometimes.

I still miss her. Every day. She was my best friend. From the second I moved out of the house at 18, to the point where Brain Cancer stole her phone skills, we were never more than a day or two without contact.

I think she'd be happy about who I've become as a result of all this grief and time passing, at least, I hope she would.

I'm ending this post with this Brandi Carlile song, because it's so fitting for what we get from our parents, and how we feel when they are gone. It's worth a listen.


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