6 months later…

It’s been 6 months today since we said goodbye to Mom. The holidays have come and gone, and guess what? I’m still here! I made it. I handled it. Gracefully? That depends on who you ask, but still, I did it. 
Yes, I still cry myself to sleep some nights. Some days I just start crying for no reason it seems. And then there are days where I cry out of thankfulness. I know that sounds weird, so let me explain.

I know someone whose mother suddenly went into the hospital, and then this young woman was tasked with “pulling the plug” a week later. My heart shattered for her, but at the same time, mine healed a little. I know the pain she feels, but I can’t imagine having had to make that decision, nor can I begin to understand how it must have felt to deal with that in a hospital room. I am blessed to have been able to hold my mommy’s hand as she took her last breaths. She slipped away so peacefully, in the comfort of her own home, no machines, wires or plugs. I’ve had some awful flashbacks in the last week, of those last 24 hours, but if I think about it long enough and from a different perspective, my experience was actually quite beautiful. 

I have found so much strength in the tiny little smiles that come from the smallest little memory of Mom. The little grins spread across my face much faster than the tears flow, though sometimes the tears do make me feel a bit better. 

I’ve found a couple other blogs that I really enjoy reading, written by people who have been through situations similar to mine. We seem to help each other by letting the other know that they are not alone, and that we know exactly how they feel. That common thread is a remarkable thing. It’s funny how life works. Some of my friends (they’re all amazing) but some of their efforts have just been astounding since Momma left. Isn’t it crazy the way some relationships flourish during the darkest times in your life? 

Soo, 6 months. Seems long, seems short, I don’t really know, it’s kind of a blur. I’ve kept really busy between my day job and my dream job. Some days she’s easy to think and talk about, others not so much. 
I definitely feel like two different versions of myself most of the time lately. Someday I’ll figure out how to blend the two. For now, I’ll just keep pressing on, I’ve got too many big exciting plans for 2017 to lose myself between the two, or to let myself drown in a pool of sorrow.


Dear Mommy…

Christmas has come and gone already. It was quite different this year. I woke up at like 6 am on Christmas Eve, you know me and Christmas lol. I wanted so badly to call you, like I always used to. So, I cried a little, then did the next best thing, I put on your Christmas music and took some time for myself, and of course, cried some more. My heart aches when I think about you missing all this fun, but my heart also rejoices in knowing that you are in all of our hearts, and you’re having the most glorious Christmas up there in heaven. 

We went to Grandpa and Grandma’s this year instead of your house, I think that made it a little easier on all of us. Aunt J lives with Gma & Gpa now, I’m sure she’s told you. I’ve seen Gma at least once a month since she moved in, so that’s been nice. We went Christmas shopping together, the 3 of us, and oh my gosh Mom, the mall has changed so much! The pretzel place is gone, but a new one is coming soon. Aunt J said they’d be at my house at 10, they showed up EARLY and I wasn’t ready!! I told them it was your fault, I’m so used to you saying you’d be here at 10 and then calling me at 10:15 to say you’d just gotten on the freeway haha. I gave them your Christmas tapestry throws to put on the couch to help decorate. Dad and Aunt J went up to Cedar Lodge and cut down a beautiful tree for Gma’s house. I’m sure you heard all about that too. Of course Gma had her candles and birds on the tree, but she skipped the angel hair this year! You would have loved it.

Uncle M & Aunt D were here of course. It’s so wonderful to spend time with them. I feel like we bonded a lot with them this summer while you were sick. I really feel like we know each other now. Perry and Aunt D are just adorable when you get them together, we had a lot of good laughs. They got us the cutest pair of double sided fleece pillow cases, one side is GB, one side SF! They are soo comfy and the kitty cats sure love how warm they are. Uncle M & Aunt D are always just so thoughtful and generous. I know you know how great your family is, but I just thought I’d let you know that they’re for real. Nobody has changed since you left. I almost feel like they’re loving me more since you left, if that makes any sense.

I think my favorite part of Christmas Eve this year was that Brian came home. We didn’t get to see T and the baby, but Brian stayed with Dad for a couple days and I think they had a good time. He said my sugar cookies were really good. Everyone said they were just like yours! I was so stinkin proud of myself for actually pulling it off! I even cut the butter all by myself! Thanks for organizing your recipes in those binders, it makes my life soo easy! I know you did it for yourself but… 

Since Brian doesn’t have Facebook, he hadn’t seen my tattoo yet. So I showed him, and everyone else. They loved it. That was when the tears started flowing. I knew it was bound to come out, since it was Christmas and our first time really being with him since July. He hugged me and we both cried, and it actually kinda helped. 

I thought about you so much all week long, especially while I was baking your treats. I even made rocky road dream bars! I messed up the first batch, but the second batch was perfect! Perry’s parents let me use their kitchen all week, and he helped me decorate the sugar cookies. They also got me this beautiful pendant urn, so I can always keep a little bit of you with me. Isn’t it perfect? My Guardian Angel Jenny Rose… 

Oh Mommy… I have been so incredibly blessed by so many wonderful people since you went away. You sure picked some pretty amazing people to call friends. They’re really good at checking in on Dad and me. 

I mostly wanted to tell you how Christmas went without you, but I also wanted to say thank you. Thank you for always being there for us kids. For giving us such AMAZING Christmas memories and traditions to carry on with our own families. For instilling in me a deep love of Christmas, not just the lights and the music and the nativity and the presents and, but the whole thing. Christmas with you will forever be one of my fondest memories. Christmas without you will get easier as the years go on, at least I hope it will. I’m not gonna lie, this year was rough. I don’t think I’ve ever been this openly emotional. But the memories of you, and your smile that could light up a room, and your laughter, I can still hear it… They make me smile and laugh, and it makes my heart happy. I know if you were actually reading this, you would cry and say, “oh Potatie…” followed by some motherly words of wisdom… This letter isn’t really for you though, it’s for me. You always like to read my thoughts, and I’ve noticed that it really does help with the grieving process. I’m not a great writer. I write like I tell stories, jumping all over the place and taking forever to get to the point, but it comes out on paper like it would if I were telling a story. I find it easier to just write it, that way there’s no need for conversation, and I don’t get caught crying while trying to talk.

So, on that note, Merry Christmas Momma. The New Year is almost here. We survived our first holiday season without your beautiful face, though we know you are here in spirit. I love you Moo. ❤❤ 

Harder in the Happy Times?

This entry is kind of all over the place so please bear with me. These thoughts have been rolling around in my head for a couple weeks now and I just had to put them on paper

It’s been just over 3 months now since Mom passed. My emotions are all over the place on a daily basis, which I assume is normal when dealing with a loss of this magnitude. I’ve definitely realized in the last couple weeks that the happier I get, the deeper it hurts. 

Perhaps it’s because we were so close. I can’t just pick up the phone and call her whenever I have exciting news. I can’t spend my days off shopping with her and getting all excited for the holidays. 

We used to Damsel together, she’s a huge part of why I joined in the first place. I’ve been a Damsel in Defense Independent Pro for 3 years now, but right now, for the 3 months since she left, I’ve been working my business FOR REAL, and it’s been rewarding in more ways than I can express. I seriously think to call her every time something amazing happens, and then I get a little sad. I know she would be proud of my recent accomplishments. She was always my biggest supporter and number one cheerleader. Part of me continues to Damsel because I know it was important to her to see me succeed, and the other part continues to press harder because I believe in the mission with my whole heart! Even though I know how proud she is, or would be, my emotional reactions in these times definitely range from one extreme to the other.

And now the holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving happens to fall on Dad’s birthday this year, which is cool, but… we always have Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house (on Mom’s side)… I don’t really know what to expect this year, but I told Dad we’d do whatever he wants. I know Mom’s family will understand if we don’t go to Grandma’s, but at the same time I feel like we would be breaking Grandma & Grandpa’s hearts if we don’t. I guess it 100% depends on Dad, but either way, it’s going to be difficult. 

Then there’s Christmas… My absolute favorite. I’m a self-proclaimed Christmas-aholic and I’m pretty sure most of my love for it came from Mom. Although a couple years ago it became perfectly clear to me why I’m such a sap when it comes to Christmas: 

My brother and I are both adopted, and I noticed a few years ago that on Mom’s calendar there was a day marked for my brother’s family anniversary, (she’s always had every important date on the calendar) but there wasn’t one for me. So, after a few cocktails, I asked her why mine wasn’t on the calendar. Her response? “Well probably because we brought you home on Christmas?” Grinning ear to ear, the little light bulb turned on, and it all made sense! Christmas was the best day of my life! But now I have to learn how to enjoy and celebrate the best times without the person who made them the best times…

Christmas baking was definitely my mom’s niche.When I was a kid we used to make an entire gingerbread village! Stained glass windows in the church and everything! She had a list of recipes that she’d collected and perfected over the years, but her sugar cookies were ALWAYS at the top of the list. Last year, Mom was just starting to not feel well, so she was changing her diet and trying to figure out what was going on with her body. My husband actually teased her that we wouldn’t be making an appearance if there weren’t sugar cookies! Luckily for us, she left an entire binder full of her recipes. I’ll have to do my best to carry on her traditions in the kitchen, even if it takes me a few years to perfect them like she did.

There’s also the matter of the spare closet. I already went through all the clothing in it, but the rest is all of her Christmas decorations. Cute little things my brother and I made for her when we were babes. Things she’d been gifted over the years. Keepsake ornaments she’s had for over 30 years. 

For my entire adult life, she has picked out a tree, always a Noble fir, tirelessly harassed my dad until it’s been positioned exactly right, and then called me to come help decorate the tree and the house. We had a select set of tapes and cds we played while performing certain Christmas related tasks. 

It’s unfathomably difficult to remain happy while reminiscing of Christmases passed. I have found myself getting super duper excited for Christmas in the last few weeks, thanks Hallmark Channel, and then I remember that it’s all going to change. I’m almost certain Dad’s not going to want to have it at the house like we always do. (Although I’ve been too chicken to bring it up with him.) 

I’ve been tempted to just run away and cancel Christmas this year. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? 

Then my conscience knocks and delivers an all expenses paid guilt trip. It totally wouldn’t be fair to my grandparents, both in their 90’s and just lost their daughter, for us to abandon 30+ years of tradition just because I’m sad.

There is one HUGE reason, aside from guilt, to be excited about the Christmas season this year, and that’s my brand new baby nephew, who will be just shy of 5 months old come Christmas. He was born 22 days after Mom passed. It breaks my heart that Mom was never able to meet her first grandchild, but it’s our duty to make sure he knows how much his grandma wanted to meet him, and that she loved him very much! I’m trying to cling to the idea of making happy memories for this baby, rather than being melancholy over all the things I miss about Christmas the way it used to be. 
I’m sure everything will all work out, I’m clearly not the only person who has ever been in this situation. I know I’m probably just over-thinking everything and creating unnecessary anxiety for myself. I know it’s going to be emotionally exhausting no matter how it works out, and I guess I’d rather be emotional while surrounded by my family than off somewhere trying to hide my feelings. Maybe it will be a good healing experience. 

Life after Mom… it must go on!

It’s been an entire month now since I said ‘goodbye’ to my sweet mommy. I never pictured my life without her. Now I find myself stumbling, somewhat gracefully, through my life; a bit scattered, extremely emotional, kind of dazed, super determined to make big changes… I don’t really know what I’m doing, or how I’m doing it, so for now, I’ll just tell you what I do know. 

On April 7th, 2016, Mom was blindsided with a stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. By the time the doctors discovered it, made up their minds as to what kind of cancer it actually was, and were prepared to offer a course of treatment, it was too late. We got to spend 3 full months together, crying, laughing, cooking, praying, and saying the things that needed to be said. I only got to have her for 3 months and 1 day after that life altering phone call. 

It’s really easy to be angry with the doctors she saw, especially those before the diagnosis. She was “sick” for about 6 months before, with no discernable illness, and certainly no major indicators of cancer. I’ve definitely lost some faith in the ability of the medical “professionals” in our area. 

It’s difficult to be alone, and hear a song, or see a photograph that reminds me of her. I always smile at first, but then the flood gates open. I got my eclectic taste in music from her!

It’s difficult to not be able to pick up the phone and call her whenever I want. We talked on the phone almost every day. She was the only person I called on a regular basis. When she started texting a few years ago, we wound up “talking” every day. 

It’s painful to think that she didn’t get to meet her first grandchild, who was born a mere twenty-two days after she left us, but comforting to know that she is up there in heaven, and got to see it all from the best seat in the house. 

I’m so grateful that we got to celebrate her 54th birthday with her just a few weeks before things got bad. It makes my heart happy that she and Dad got to go away for a few days for their 32nd wedding anniversary just days before she became confined to her bed.

I am eternally grateful to the hospice staff! They were wonderful at answering all of our questions, even over the holiday weekend. It was incredibly comforting to hear them say that we were doing a great job in keeping Mom medicated, comfortable and clean. The compassion they showed my family through every step of the longest week of our lives was just immeasurable.

It’s comforting to know that there are so many people out there whose lives were touched by my mommy. I seriously don’t think I’ve ever met a single person who didn’t have something nice to say about her. I love hearing stories from her friends. My heart beats a little faster and a smile spreads across my face when I see pictures of their adventures together. Mom was only 54, but she lived an incredibly full life. 

I have to keep reminding myself that she’s in a better place, free of pain, cancer free, and celebrating with all our loved ones who beat her there. I will forever cherish the time we got to spend together in her last couple months. I’m blessed beyond words to have been able to call her my mommy, she chose me to be her daughter, and it was just an added bonus to call her my best friend.

So yes, it’s difficult to answer the, “How are you doing?” inquiries every day. “I’m doin…” That’s my typical response, but what I mean is, I’m sad. My heart hurts. I miss my mommy. While I appreciate that people care and that they’re taking the time to check on me, honestly, I don’t really know HOW I’m doing. By the grace of God, I’m alive, back to my routine, and still able to laugh and smile, so I guess I’m doing alright.

Keep singing and dancing with the angels, Mommy. I’ll see you again someday!