30 July 2009

Next Year…

Today is my birthday. I'm twenty-nine. No… really, I am twenty-nine! Honest!

This is my first birthday without Mom. Last year, we went camping with Aaron's parents for my birthday. When I told Mom that I'd be gone on my birthday she said, "That's a bummer. I was going to make you a cake!" I smiled and told her that she could make me one next year. Today it's next year, and she's not here. I don't regret going camping last year, not at all. The kids had a wonderful time, and it was great to have the opportunity to spend the time with Aaron's parents. I wouldn't change that weekend at all!

I guess that reflecting on that short conversation with Mom reminds me that none of us know what tomorrow will bring. It's like I thought that Mom would always be here. I had no reason to think that. She'd had more than one brush with death. I knew better than most young people how precarious life can be. Yet, life without her was still a shock. It's still sad, and I still miss her even more than I'd have ever guessed. For nearly twenty-nine years, she was so much a part of my life. Who I am today, is in so many ways, due to her influence. I can only aspire to be half the woman that she was. She set the standard high, but did everything that she could to equip me to aim for it. For that I am thankful beyond words.

If I had to make a birthday wish, it would be this: That we would never let a day go by without telling those we love, just how much we love them. Do me this one favor today, if you can, give your mom a hug, and tell her just how much you love her.

Mom never got the chance to make me that cake this year, but my sister and my daughter stepped in to do it themselves. I'll be honest; it's the most beautiful cake that anyone has ever made me. Tonight when I blow out the candles I'll give them both a hug, and tell them how much I love them, because we never know what next year will bring.

25 July 2009

It Will Hurt Until Heaven

I'm still managing to go through things of Mom's that have found their way to my house. I have the pillow that I made her years ago for her arm. Since her car accident, she always felt more comfortable if she had a pillow to rest her elbow on while she was sitting. The one I made was sewn from two hand towels, making it washable, and the perfect size. She used it for so many years. It looks ratty and worn, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. So, it sits in the chair in my dining room, a gentle reminder of the Mom who so shaped my life.

It still hurts. Nearly five months later, and it is still an open wound in my heart. I've thought of a new way to look at it though. "It will hurt until Heaven." Perhaps that sounds rather depressing, but bear with me. I've said many times that I'll miss her every day for the rest of my life. That is true, and denying it won't change the fact that I miss her terribly. The hurt from missing my Grandfather has not faded away in nearly 25 years, so why should this be any different. Reminding myself that it will hurt until Heaven is a way of reminding myself to have hope, to have faith. It won't hurt forever. Someday, all of our hurts will be healed, never to bring us pain again. Heaven seems a long ways off right now, but none of us really know do we? Until then, we can live with the hurt, because we know that it is not forever. We can continue on in the journey of life, and know that the hurt doesn't have to become our life, because it's only one small part of it.

There is a line in a song that asks, "When does the pain become a friend?" I think that I'm getting closer to that point. Certainly, it's become a companion on my walk through this world. Perhaps the pain does become a friend, because it reminds us of how utterly weak that we are. We are shown anew how much we must rely utterly on the God in whom we put our faith. Pain reminds us of where our trust must be, not in ourselves, but in Him. It reminds us that we do have hope, eternal hope. And we remember, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18) It's right there in that verse, hope. Until then, we have grace, His grace, and it's enough…

09 July 2009

Jalapeno Jelly

There's this jalapeño pepper jelly that I've made for the past few years. I don't care much for it, but I use it as gifts since some of my relatives and friends enjoy it. Mom was a big fan, and I'd have to make a couple of batches a year to keep her supplied. She used to put it on her toast.

A few days ago, I had to take Camo out with me and left the two oldest kids home with their Dad. He gave them PB&J for supper. (It's their favorite meal, go figure...) He used what he though was apple jelly. In fact, it was a half-empty jar of the jalapeño jelly that I made for Mom. She had left it down here when we made sandwiches for everyone on the day that we moved into the house back in November. She just forgot to take it home, and it got lost in my fridge. Surprisingly, the kids loved it!

Today, at lunchtime they requested more of the jelly on their sandwiches. Once again, they told me how much they loved the jelly. I guess I'll still be making it on occasion. Perhaps they have some of Mom's genes in them. They must, since Aaron and I won't eat that flavor of jelly!

That's one of the things that I love about having kids. I see something of everyone I've loved in them.

Munchkin was wondering aloud if they have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in Heaven. I told her that I didn't know. She thought that if they did, Grammy would be having the same jelly on hers. Perhaps it's fanciful, but the thought does make me smile, even if it is through the tears...

07 July 2009


I feel like I've been packing up pieces of Mom's life. Going through her things, deciding what to do with them, and sometimes just boxing them up for now has been a physically and emotionally draining process. It has surprised me some of the things that I just can't let go of.

Today, it was Mom's lipstick. I came to that, tried to throw them away, but I couldn't. With tears in my eyes, I put them in a box to take home with me. It seems a little silly, even to me, that something as simple as lipstick would be such a trigger point. But, that was Mom. A thousand and one times that I watched her at the bathroom mirror, putting on the only two cosmetics that she used, Oil of Olay, and bright fuchsia lipstick. It was just so Mom. I'll never wear the same color that she did, but for some reason, I have to keep those little tubes. All I have left now, are little bits and pieces like that. Sure, I have so many great memories, but the memories aren't tangible. Physical beings that we are, I think we just crave some sort of physical connection with those we love. Love doesn't die when our bodies do. My love for Mom is still as strong as it was when she was here. I don't think that will ever change. And that's just fine.

I see so many things of Mom's that make me smile. So many things that meant something to her. So many things that remind me of the million memories of her that I cherish. I'm sure that with the perspective of time there will be things that I can let go of, but for now, there are some things that I just have to keep. Sometimes it's the books that she read to me when I was a kid. Sometimes it's the crazy things like a tube of lipstick.

They say that time heals all wounds. I don't know that it's true, but I think that in my case, time will dull the ache somewhat. Someday, I'll wake up, and it won't hurt more than it did the day before. For now, I'll just rely on God's grace. Grace for the moment, grace for the day…