For Mom. For life.

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.

Dad and Steph road trip to Mineral Point and Platteville

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….

Crescent, finishing her treatment. This is hope.

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.

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10 thoughts on “For Mom. For life.

  1. Steph…
    thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings here!
    wish I could be in the same room with you to listen and give you a hug, but know that i AM listening through your blog and sending love and hugs to you!!

  2. Oh, Lord, friend…it’s a good thing I’m *alone* in the office today blubbering away. You have a gift for words. Your heart shines right through them. I am sending you a long-distance hug that will never “cure” the missing of your mom, but will hopefully brighten your day just a bit.

  3. I love how you so transparently share your pain. You are right, the missing never goes away. It’s been 6 years since Lauren started her new life, and sometimes the realization that she’s gone just washes over me like a huge wave. I still cry at the most unexpected thoughts of her. My greatest comfort (and my only hope, frankly) is in knowing, KNOWING that we will be reunited. When my pain hits, I immediately as the Lord to give me a tiny glimpse of her as she is now. Sometimes in a beautiful sunset or a silly song, I FEEL her joy. She is never far away. She is waiting for us to join her. This is hope and peace.

  4. Dear Stephanie,
    I can not add to your wonderful post.
    I am listening with a heart full of care and prayers for you.
    Love
    Donna

  5. Hello, just wanted to say that I am thrilled you are back writing in your blog. I so sympathize with the loss of your mother. There are many times when I have wished that I could just talk to my mom one more time. I read a devotion back in early October about dealing with death and the author pointed out that we have to come to a point where we say thank you to God for the life of the one who left us and that is when we start the climb back from grief…”that is when the real healing begins….gratitude for the gift of that person—beyond anger or sorrow at the loss–helps make us whole again.” You may not be ready for that step, take your time and know that our prayers are with you. love and encouraging prayers, jep

    • jep, i’m holding out hope for the day you start your own blog. you are a constant source of encouragement to me. and thanks for these words. i am learning…. day by day by day…

      hugs,
      Steph

  6. Thank you for your kind words! I would love to write a blog, but it is not in the cards for me right now. On our walk this morning my husband and I said our prayers and then we posed a question for each other, “If you could be anyone at a football game, who would you be…player, coach, band member, cheerleader, umpire, fan etc.” My husband answered, “coach” right away, and he was a couch by profession as a university professor always coaching his students to choose ways to succeed. I was the “coach’s “wife, making cookies and meals for the students and supporting him. But if we were really talking about what we would be right now, it would be fans only we would be the ones waiting in line to get food for the rest of the family in their seats or going to the car for a coat or hat left behind. We would be cheering from afar. Such is life now caring for an ailing parent and giving support to our son & DIL who are new parents. Notice neither of us opted to be football players. Guess that sums up why I am not writing a blog, but so enjoy reading yours, Miz Boo and Melinda Sue’s. = )
    love and encouraging prayers always, jep

  7. It is wonderful to see you blogging again! You’re right, this is a very good place to process all that you’ve experienced this year. And I look forward to sharing your journey.
    ((((Hugs))))) to you friend.

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