I had a thought yesterday that took my breath away. It sounds foolish, I think, and a little silly, and obvious. But I realized for the first time that this feeling of missing my mom is never going to go away – there is no end to this. When a friend dies, or someone with whom you’re not as close, or even a more distant relative, it feels to me more like an event – a thing that has a beginning, but also wanes to an end. (Maybe that’s because, too, I’m so often involved in funerals for people in those categories. As much as one can be, I’m used to such things.) The realization that there will be no abating to this feeling – I will *always* miss my mom – hit me hard. Maybe that’s a signal that I’m moving to another stage of grief – the part that’s beyond sadness – somehow deeper. The thought of the long-haul missing is exhausting, even at the front end of it. Mom’s been gone now for 16 weeks. Sixteen Fridays since the Friday she died. She loved – adored – the fall, and this one has been spectacular in every way – an October of sunshine and incredible colors. Last weekend when I took my son to his final soccer game of the season, we drove on highway 33 to the interstate. When I came around the corner to The Narrows, I promptly burst into tears at the beauty of it all. Seriously – everyone said that it was past peak. Nonsense. It was amazing.
My heart has been tender this fall. I am quick to cry, and quick to need to sleep. Sometimes it’s not obvious that my moods are impacted by grief, but I feel as though there is a meltdown just below the surface of my days most of the time. The children have been wonderful – transitions to school have been much better than we anticipated, and the littlest one and I have a great time at home doing our thing while the other kids are at school.
We have spent several days in Green Bay helping dad as he prepares to move to Baraboo as soon as the house sells. Poignant, bittersweet – but also just a plain old heck of a lot of work. Ezra has been my buddy for those road trips. He’s a sweetheart and he loves Grandpa. So do I. Dad has been a rock star – pressing on, doing the hard work that’s going to set him free for the rest of his life – the more we purge now, the more comfortable and settled he will be once he gets here. This morning Dad is at the funeral of his niece/my cousin, Linda, who was far too young to die of cancer – in fact, the same cancer as Mom’s, with the same sort of hyper-fast progression. I was asked to sing, but because of a dress rehearsal for our All Hallows Eve service, I couldn’t. Frankly, it was a bit of a relief to be forced to say no. I haven’t done a funeral since Mom’s.
Part of the pressing on for me this fall has been participating in a Spinning class. Not wool, not yarns, not tales, but group cycling. Twice a week I’m on the bike, and it’s helping me to find my way. Seriously – the physical work of this kind of exercise taps into something deep in me – not sure if it’s my inner athlete, or a part of me that has long been forgotten… but I think it has something to do with having watched Mom die as a result of not caring for herself in the ways that she could have, and should have. I would like to think that I would, as much as it depends on me, live as well as I can to avoid disease and illness. I am well aware that this is not fully within my control – but I have a renewed sense of wanting to do better. And so I am. At class on Thursday, we biked to Melissa Etheridge’s I Run for Life – which, I have to say, is a fabulous anthem. Do you know it?
We did a hill to that song… standing up, crazy high resistance, running for life – tears and snot, hope and memory, all of it making for a pretty intense experience. I run for my life, and in memory of Mom’s, and for my heroes like Crescent and Jan and Kathy and Bobbi and Carrie and Barb and Linda and….
It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway – the Lord has not left me alone in my sadness. He has been present in ways that I have expected, and ways that have caught me by surprise. The state of my heart is not a surprise to Him. I am grateful.
So, I’m off to help get costumes ready, to practice ‘For All the Saints’ for our evensong tomorrow night, as we commemorate those who have gone before us, and the Lord who has made the way. It is Mom’s first All Hallows Eve in the presence of the Lord. She wins. As for me, in the rhythm of life, I continue on with a grateful heart.