Friday, February 15, 2008


Wow, what a week for blogging, huh? Some weeks are just like that I guess.

But today is not a fun blog. I could really not write anything at all. My head is swimming though and sometimes this poor blog simply becomes my outlet. It can be far easier to type-it-out from time to time than to actually talk-it-out or some other method of coping.

Today is February 15th. It's the birthday of my friend Chris, who is like a sister to me (Happy Birthday Chris! Wait, she hasn't ever seen the blog, oh well). But it is also 3 years ago today that we lost my Mom to cancer.

I remember surprisingly little about it all really. Or at least I feel like I can't remember the important stuff, the stuff I want to remember. Like the last thing she said to me. Or the last thing I said to her. Or even just the sound of her voice.

I remember that the day prior, Valentine's Day 2005, was uncharacteristically warm for winter. It was sunny. My Dad and J and I took Mom up to the nursing home to see Grandpa (her Dad); I think we knew it was the last time. They were both in wheelchairs and the picture in my mind is so sad and so beautiful at the same time. They sat in the sun, their chairs facing opposite directions, and held hands. I don't remember them saying much. They probably knew much better than any of us how to spend precious final moments with someone you love.

We all went to sleep that night, or tried to, knowing that the end was imminent and by morning she likely wouldn't be with us in the earthly sense any more. The idea that she would be free of the debilitating pain of disease was comforting to some degree. I still don't know how she did it those final months of treatment and I know I don't even know the half of it when it comes to how much pain she must have been feeling. Losing someone to disease like that brings such a strange mix of emotions. For me, it was relief tinged with guilt (who feels relief that their Mom is gone?) and then the more general and natural pain of loss, of being just shy of 24 years old and being without my Mom. There was also the pain of having to watch my Dad lose my Mom, a pain that has been ongoing and increasing as time goes by, as I can only guess his pain has done the same.

Here I sit, 3 years later, in a home I didn't foresee, in a place I never imagined living, and with a son I certainly didn't anticipate either. So much has changed. Grady being the most notable thing of course and the most bittersweet too. That she doesn't get to hold our son and dote on him and give him all the love a Grandma has, that has been the most bittersweet experience in my life.

I remember when we found out we were pregnant, all the grief came back full force as if I'd just lost her. My impending journey into motherhood brought her absense into such sharp focus that it dominated my thoughts nearly as much as the little being growing inside me did. The only person I wanted to call was Mom. J and I were in such shock, having not planned at all on being parents yet, that we really couldn't tell people. We weren't ready to tell, just like we didn't feel we were ready to have a baby. But even not wanting to tell people, I know I would've called my Mom and told her. Just her. She would have listened to my concerns and comforted and reassured me in a way that wasn't selfish and didn't push too hard too fast for me to embrace my impending motherhood when I wasn't ready yet.

It is now 3 years later, and she has 2 new grandchildren (Ryan and Lisa's girl Faith and Grady) and another little one, gender yet unknown, arriving to Ryan and Lisa later this year. And her little Riley, the only grandchild she got to cuddle and love in person, is a smart, energetic, and witty 10 year old. Ryan's family even lives in Superior now where she could enjoy her grandkids probably several times a weeek.

No matter what I write, I couldn't possibly do her justice. She worked hard at her job, volunteered countless hours at the Elks, and took wonderful care of her Dad after Grandma passed away. I loved her crab salad; it was imitation crab I'm sure as I doubt you can get real crab around Superior very often, but in my mind it was her signature dish and I don't think I've had crab salad since she's been gone. She was much prettier than I am, and I love looking at pictures of her growing up and in the early days of marriage and kids. She was my go-to person for so many things. If Jeremy and I were facing any kind of practical decision (taxes, buying a car, etc.), she was who I called to talk it over with. We had an unofficial rule that Sundays was our day to talk. If a weekend went by and I didn't hear from her, I usually worried and would pick up the phone myself just to make sure all was fine. It didn't matter that there often wasn't much to report for either of us. It was our weekly way of re-connecting I suppose, so the words themselves weren't nearly as important as the act of it.

I'm lucky enough to have an afghan she crocheted and a baby quilt she started. The baby quilt is kind of a funny story. She was working on it when she came to visit J and I in WA once and she told us it was for Ryan and Lisa (who weren't expecting or talking about more kids at the time). We found out later that she told Ryan and Lisa it was for me and J. Stories like that make me laugh. Ryan and Lisa had the quilt finished and gave it to us this last August. We really treasure it. Now Grady has a quilt made by each of his Grandmas (Linda made a beautiful one too).

I don't have many digital pictures of my Mom. I did find this one from when she and Dad came to my college graduation in May 2004. I was overjoyed that Mom had her last cigarette before she got on the plane to fly to Seattle. I was so proud of her! I knew it wasn't easy, and she said it was sort of a graduation gift to me. We didn't realize it was too late, that Mom already had cancer spread from her lungs to her liver and bones. It wasn't until about 6 weeks later that there was a diagnosis. Less than 8 months after that, she was gone.

It is always hard to know what to do, if anything, when an anniversary of the death of a loved one comes around. Do you go on as if it were any other day? Do you celebrate their life in some way? I guess this year, the answer is that I blog about her. And wish I had a photo of she and Bugga to share. Riley told us this Christmas that she believes "Grandma comes into their {Faith's and Grady's} rooms at night and rocks them." I think that's a beautiful thing to believe. I'll take my cue from my niece on this one and believe that Mom gets her own time with Grady. In the meantime we'll make sure to tell him stories and show him pictures as he grows up and let him know that he had another Grandma that would have loved him very much.


G&M said...

I sobbed as I read this. The end was the real kicker to me... what Riley told you this past Christmas. Children are closer to the spiritual world than we busied adults, and with that, I believe can see and feel a lot more than we do.
This was a beautiful piece to read, and the special relationship you two had was to only be sought after by many other mothers and daughters.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful peace. I love you!

Amanda said...

Hey Tara,

Thanks for reading! It felt good to write it.

I agree with you that children are closer to the spiritual world than us adults. It is just amazing the things they "know," when we adults are so blind to so many things in the world.

I grew up never knowing one of my grandpas because he had passed long before I was born. I know so little about him and I don't want it to be that way for Grady. Or for Mom for that matter. She deserves to be part of his life, just as much as he deserves to know her.

Anyway, thanks again for reading Tara!