May 18, 2011

The Only Constant is Change

Dear Mom,

I've said before that I feel like I'm settling somehow lately, and I couldn't figure out if it was the people I surround myself with, or just me. Turns out it was a little bit of both.

Over the past month I have ripped down, rebuilt, and replaced a series of relationships in my life, including the one I have with myself. It's been a pretty drastic change, and one that I haven't been ready to talk about until tonight.

For a little while now, I have felt like I've lost myself. I just wasn't willing to admit it. It's like I suddenly got sucked into a life of a boring, lonely old lady and completely stopped even attempting to be the spunky little 23-year-old that I am on the inside. I grew comfortable in a life of going to bed at 9pm on a Saturday night, passing on a night out with my girlfriends for no good reason, and sitting in front of the TV whenever I got some downtime. When did I let myself become that person? I love being spontaneous, meeting new people, laughing, and living an exciting, active lifestyle. I used to dream of moving out of the state; I used to dream of being a famous journalist; I used to dream of making my mark on the world in even the smallest way-- I used to dream, period. When did I stop dreaming? And more importantly, why?

After you died, I focused so much on how short your life was that I panicked and started living so fast. I wanted to do everything immediately and got so wrapped up in it that I didn't even recognize myself. Then, I made a change and started spending time with people who lived a slower paced life, which ultimately brought mine to a screeching halt. I allowed that to carry on for years to the point where I simply got comfortable. I was comfortable working at a mediocre job, living in a town that hardly anyone has heard of, spending all my time with people who weren't necessarily a right fit for me. It was easy and achievable.

One little quote changed my outlook. I can't remember where I read it or who said or when, but I do know that I haven't been able to get it out of my head ever since.

"You say life is short, but it is the longest thing you'll ever do."

I never thought of it that way before. Talk about a wake-up call. Life is actually pretty freaking long-- and I'm going to spend it like this? Absolutely not.

In a matter of weeks my life has turned upside-down in some of the best ways. I rekindled relationships with old friends who should have never left my life. I reevaluated what I'm looking for in a partner and am single for the first time in years. I realized that I want more for myself than I've actually allowed myself to feel deserving of in the past. I feel confident, happy, and excited about my life and my future for the first time in so long.

I let my grief and fear of death completely overtake me. Watching you die when I was 19 years old truly shook me to my core in more ways than I had ever realized. I started to look at life as a countdown; a ticking time bomb. Something in the past few months just clicked for me out of nowhere, and I can see now that life has been patiently waiting for me to go out and live it.

Now that's exactly what I intend to do!


May 17, 2011

Welcome Home

Dear Mom,

I got out of the shower this morning to find a missed call from Dad on my cell phone. He said your mom ('Nanny' to all of us grandkids) was given just hours to live, and I should drive home immediately. I threw a bag together in record time and was out the door. Halfway into my two hour drive to the hospital, my phone rang again...

I was too late.

It turns out she died before I had even left my house... ironically, at that very minute I had been bracing myself against the kitchen counter before I got in the car, trying to keep it together and praying to God to be with her.

He was... and so were you. When I got to the hospital, I was told that just before she died she lifted her hand-- palm-up-- into the air and smiled. I have no doubts that it was you by His side as He took her hand and welcomed her home.

I had a hard time being sad at first. A mother and daughter were reunited today for all of eternity; that is something that I only dream of, and you two got to experience that. I felt a weird calm about it all-- that is, until all of our family left the hospital but me (and your friend Lois, who is an absolute angel and stayed by my side), and I decided to see Nanny's body.

That's when things got real for me. I took one step into the doorway, saw her dead body slumped over in that hospital bed, and literally gasped. I had to look away; I was frozen; tears streaming down my face. I didn't even recognize her. I was instantly brought back to a place-- a feeling-- that I had so desperately tried to forget three years ago.

Grandpa looked at Dad as he was leaving earlier and said, "I don't know how you do this." The truth is, we don't either. We just... do. We have no other choice but to keep going. It's that simple... and that complicated.

I love you,

May 8, 2011

The Mother's Day Blues

Dear Mom,

Today is Mother's Day. Despite my good intentions, of course I started crying completely unexpectedly right when I woke up this morning. It's just so bittersweet. I feel lucky to have known you, and I always will, but there's that part of me that will just remain sad. I'm sad that I will never buy you another sappy Mother's Day card or cheesy gift; I'm sad that I will slowly forget exactly how your voice sounded; I'm sad that you never got the chance to be one of those cool moms on Facebook, or own an iPhone, or watch the season finale of Survivor (and the new season too-- you would love it!).

I try to replace all of the "didn't's" and "couldn't's" and "will never's" with thoughts of all the things we did get to do together, and it gets easier to do so, but sometimes I still need to just let myself feel whatever the heck I want to-- and today I feel sad. And tearful. And cheated. And I just... well, I feel bad for myself.

A lot of my sadness used to come from feeling sad for you and the fact that you had to leave us all by yourself, but honestly, my guess is that Heaven kicks some serious butt and you aren't thinking twice about this place. Lucky. Angels probably don't have to shave their legs, purchase tampons, or struggle through hangovers (clearly listing the most important things in life here...). Angels live the best life-- a blessed life-- and experience the eternal life that the rest of us just dream about and hope for. I just know that, today, you are happy.

Hmm... you are happy. I haven't said or thought that in a while.

I think I just performed therapy on myself by accident. That was weird. There went the rest of my rant for the day.

You are happy.

And now so am I.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you so much.