Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Year of Firsts

Yesterday marked 50 weeks to the day. In exactly two weeks from today, it will be one year since Mom left us. This Wednesday is the one-year anniversary of her final trip to the ER. Everyone told me about the "year of firsts" -- all the big events that are suddenly missing a person.

Last year, we had less than 24 hours until we hit the first of those firsts.  Mom died the day before Dad's birthday. A week before my brother's birthday. Three weeks before Easter 2016. Those firsts came along so rapidly that we didn't have time to process them. Then came Mother's Day, which is a day I would just as soon forget for the remainder of my days. And on and on it went.......

The first six months were horrible. I grieved Mom so much. Then on that anniversary weekend, she sent me a sign, a siren call really: it was time to let go as I'd promised, as I'd wanted her to do and be free. She was telling me that she couldn't be free as long as I clung tightly.

My birthday came and went. I missed Mom giving me a card and saying "I'm sorry it's not more...." As if I were still five years old and expecting a couple of dollars tucked in there. It was a rather wistful day.

Thanksgiving came and went. Then we lost Maddox. Losing Mom hurt, losing Maddox cut hard and sharp. Christmas came and we were okay until Dad choked up during grace. We made it through New Year's and all the bowl games.

And now comes the anniversaries we never wanted to "celebrate" ......
Another friend in the one-parent-left club mentioned that for her, the second year was the worst. The first was bad but you expected to come upon these things ...... But in that second year you're somehow supposed to be over it. As if you ever are.

The hard days for me will be Feb. 27 -- the day the doctors told us to start considering all our options -- and March 4, Mom's last full day, when I spent hours in silence with her at Hospice and sang to her. March 9 will be the anniversary of her funeral, and that day too may be hard.

What this year has taught me is that life is short and fragile, that you had best tell those you love that you love them. You have to follow your bliss and enjoy every moment, because you are not promised even one additional second. Do what makes your heart sing and soar. And love. Don't put tags or labels on it, just love unconditionally, as you are loved. Love large, love often, but love wisely all the same. And fear not.

As my family has unpacked Mom's passing and her life, we are saddened by how much and how often she was guided by fear. I usually am not the type to allow fear to rule my choices, but now I'm even less inclined to do so. I will not allow fear to make my choices for me.

And in doing so, I will honor my mother.

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