And while I think of that day plenty of other times during the year, it seems to kinda punch me in the gut right about now.
Sometimes I get stuck on one piece of that day.
What her breath sounded like after the machines were shut off.
What her skin felt like when I laid my head next to her arm on the hospital bed.
What color shoes (cute cobalt flats) one of the residents was wearing during rounds.
Sometimes I get stuck on what happened in the days that followed her death.
People showing up & taking over.
Me going through my mom's stuff & feeling like a thief (ridiculous).
"Isn't it too soon?" I'd ask my dad as he lovingly encouraged me to take whatever I wanted.
Dresses & shoes that I had borrowed from her.
Because she had cool style (without even trying).
A pair of teeny tiny diamond studs that I had given to her years before.
That part of the aftermath was almost exciting (sounds weird, but it's true); holding tangible pieces of Mare, smelling her...having her, essentially.
Sharing beloved pieces with family & friends, holding things aside for my brother, for our kids.
I really do try to wear something that belonged to my mom everyday.
Lately, it's a particular ring; sterling silver thin band with tiny carved zig zags on either side of a delicate opal chip (smaller than a pin head). I wear it on my right hand, middle finger & barely know it's there. It's that perfect.
But, I didn't mean to go on & on about my mom's "stuff."
I was actually going to write about choosing her funeral garb; that was a weird process & my dad left it pretty much up to my discretion.
I found it odd & sort of funny that the funeral director, Ron, told me to include undergarments.
The dress was easy...I chose a long silk shift she wore to my first wedding. I was with her whenshe found it and it was perfect for her. That was a fun shopping day & I really miss shopping with my mom (probably the only person I really truly enjoyed shopping with).
Pale green, ankle length with delicate embroidered & beaded flowers randomly scattered.
For shoes, I chose champagne flats that she had worn the previous weekend to a neighbor's daughter's wedding. I remember stopping by that day as she was getting ready. It was the first time I'd seen her dressed up in a long time & she wanted me to help her decide which shoes. My mom always wore flats, lest she'd almost surpass my dad's height in heels. Her hair looked awesome that afternoon & I made a mental note to borrow that dress (ironically, I wore it just a few weeks later to her funeral). Is that irony? I always feel like I get that wrong.
Stockings, pretty underpinnings...a loose shrug/wrap (the dress was sleeveless) to hide all the IV marks. Her wedding band. And a locket (within the locket, tiny photos of her three grand babies).
Hair was done naturally, with that casual swoop & tucked behind an ear (no earrings; my mom had a thing about other people touching her ears). A Clinique berry lipstick that was in her purse. Just mascara.
My mom wore very sparse makeup. She didn't need any.
Although the funeral was closed-casket, our immediate family had the option to view her before visitation commenced.
First, I went in alone & placed some items in her casket.
But, serene. Beautiful. And like my mom.
She still looked like my mom (which was quite jarring, yet such a relief).
Next, I brought Max in (he wanted to). I'm sure he grew up a little faster in a way I wasn't ready for in that moment.
(But, we don't get to choose such moments)
And that was that.
Ron closed the casket & that was the last time I saw her in the flesh.
So, the date is looming...just two days away.
And I'll mark the day much like I did last year
I'll go to the Oaklands, I'll enjoy some of her favorite things, listen to some of her favorite songs...(but, I do these things often...and some of her favorites have become my favorites, too).
Bit o Honey
Ashes to Ashes
Gray Aerie sweatpants
The Sound of Music
Pulling weeds (SIKE! I HATE pulling weeds)
...just to name a few
I don't know a better way to wrap up this meandering post than that little list.
Today my son graduates fifth grade and leaves behind the elementary school that he knows & loves.
All the assholes who tell you "it goes by too fast," are right. "Cherish every little moment because they grow up so quickly!" Is a sentiment oft repeated, especially to newbie parents. I say: it's fine to not cherish every moment. It's fine to regard the first days (first years, even) as boot camp/purgatory/the hardest thing you've ever done. Whoever tells you "it gets easier" is full of shit. It does NOT get easier. It gets trickier, it gets crazier, but it does gets A LOT more fun. Kids are messy, moody, challenging, mischievous, wild, emotional, dramatic, funny, ridiculous, tiring, and stubborn (but, so are we). Homework is even worse the second time around if you're anything like me & sucked at that sort of thing when you were a kid. BUT, you get to watch your kid discover what they're into as they plow through elementary school at lightning speed (cliche 100%, but true)...you get to see them develop friendships (like our own, some will stick and some will fade)...you get to watch them handle challenges & overcome hurdles (some seemingly petty, some huge & important)...some kids will soar through their first chunk of academia with flying colors and unicorns and rainbows, while some will muddle through with lots of tears and frustration. Hopefully most kids fall somewhere in the middle and approach middle school with a genuine love of learning tempered with a healthy dose of humility. I'm pretty sure that's the direction Max is headed & I couldn't be happier for him.
Congrats & best wishes to *all* the classes of 2016!
Yesterday, I had therapy & it wasn't terribly "productive"; rather than working on stuff, it was more like 50 minutes of pleasant chatting.
Which is awesome because that means at the moment I don't have stuff to work on.
Yes, I'm cranky about my temporary lack of activity.
It's temporary & it's completely out of my control & accidents just simply happen.
And cranky is a million times easier to deal with than depressed or anxious.
Cranky is a mood, not a looming cloud or ugly void.
Oddly enough, the turning point for me just happened to be on my birthday even though it began with an injury.
It's been a full week of an inexplicable shift in my mood...a lightness that I can't explain & don't really care to.
And I'm not going to waste any time wondering or waiting for it to pass, because maybe it won't.
And if it does, I will deal with it.
I'm getting better at that.
Oh, and at therapy, the news of my dad & Cary's recent engagement came up.
Not in a "ugh my dad is getting married and I'm freaking out how do I deal with this?" kind of way; more like, "Oh. And my dad and Cary got engaged and her ring is so beautiful and they're so excited. It's awesome!!" kind of thing.
So after the aforementioned 50 minutes of chatting, we agreed that maybe we stretch it out between the next appointment. As much as I click with (and genuinely like) my shrink, I don't need to shell out mega bucks to sit in his office and exchange pleasantries about books I've read recently or how awesome things are lately.
That was Thursday.
By Friday night, I was in a weird & manic sort of funk.
Because I'm not doing anything physically challenging at the moment, I have all this pent up energy and it's finding weird ways to wend its way through my system...reminds me of nesting.
I've been deep-cleaning the house, organizing drawers and cabinets, purging crap left and right, switching out art work on every possible wall space, rearranging shit. It's maddening, kinda.
Our home has reached that dismal point where everything seems to look tired at once;
the walls are dingy and mottled with hand prints, crayon marks, scuffs...the (hand-me-down) furniture is sagging and worn, the carpets are scratchy and developing tripping-hazard-sized mounds that need to be stretched tight (or ideally, replaced altogether)...
So, while everything is tired, at least it is tidy, clean, and more organized by the day.
On my forty-first birthday, I busted my foot during the last quarter mile of my morning run.
Like busted busted (the orthopedic doc strongly suspects it is broken; he wants an MRI in addition to the x-rays, but our insurance wants to hear that straight from the doc. Insurance, I am glad I have you, but you can go ahead and eat a dick).
Tomorrow will be a week since I fell and I'd like to take this opportunity to pat myself on the back for keeping whining to a minimum and not dragging everyone else down with me.
Some running goals have been squashed, but I'm surprisingly okay with that.
I ran a solid 15k a few days before turning 41& crossed the finish line with my bestie; while I wasn't setting the world on fire with my pace, I was truly stoked to begin logging miles in preparation for Broad Street (yep, I got selected in the lottery).
Other than Broad Street, I really had my heart set on crushing the local trail series (and was well on my way with two age-group wins in the book) and possibly attaining a PR at what would've been my third half-marathon.
Plans have changed.
I've deferred my Broad Street entry to next year (smart move).
I might be able to do a trail race at the tail end of the series, but am out of the running for an overall placing (it was super fun to chase points again, I'll admit it).
That's that blah blah blah...off my feet for a bit, but I'll be back.
The good news is, I have been riding again. And I've been loving it.
The timing is great, as I'm sure I'll be back in the saddle before I am back on my feet.
Let's face it; it doesn't even feel like spring yet. The weather has been bullshit. I'm hardly missing anything.
Maneuvering around on crutches has proven to be a tough upper-body/core workout.
Nothing is hindering my ability to do any cross-training that doesn't involve my feet or ankles.
So, it's fine.
This is truly nothing.
(I mean, insurance sure doesn't think a broken foot is important, so...)
I love running.
I love running alone.
I love running with my friends.
I love running in the woods...on pavement. In the rain (when it's not cold rain).
In a sea of racers (though I do NOT like the crowds before the race actually starts).
In the dark morning, through town by the glow of street lights, sometimes the moon, our headlamps, various blinky safety lights.
I love the rush of endorphins, the good stretch after a long run, the Epsom soak to thank my legs for being strong...
I love to run.
I also love to write and paint and cook and play with my kids and watch movies at home by the fire and hang out with my friends and plenty of other shit to keep me busy while I nurse another silly injury.
I don't have the energy to reflect on this shit...
I'm forty-ONE tomorrow.
My Angry Elevens are far more prominent than they were a year ago (so what?).
I'm pretty much blonde to cover the gray (I imagine this is how my mom became a blonde, too; though, unlike me, she totally looked like a natural blonde).
I don't know...other than that, I'm happy to be here.
I still feel young, sometimes naive, more often than not wise, and not at all hung up on "aging."
Women my age are fast and strong.
And some are even beautiful.
That's all. The end (of that).
More importantly, the day after my birthday, Bill and I will celebrate our fourth year of being hitched. That still feels new most of the time.
I'm sharing a photo of my children sound asleep in their bedroom at my dad's beach house.
Sometimes I feel like the laziest/least patient/shortest-fused/moody/incapable/failing parent in the whole world.
Obviously, an exaggeration; but, one I believe most parents can easily relate to.
Yes, my kids are fed, clothed, loved. Sheltered. Warm. Educated. Basic needs are met and then some. Yay!
Yet...like all (most? Some? Help me out here...), I'm super-critical of my parenting foibles and quick to highlight my missteps, when I should revel in the right or good or commendable things I'm doing for my kids.
I had this brilliant idea of escaping to the beach for Easter weekend.
Any semblance of Easter traditions or rituals have all but disappeared since my mom died (which isn't saying much, as we've never made it a big deal; nor, are we a religious family). Easter has always meant celebrating springtime (blooming dandelions, pink trees come to life, bunnies hopping through the yard), candy, and hunting for hidden eggs. I don't know if I've dyed eggs with Max ever.
Our Easter baskets are modest compared to what I've seen posted on various social media by friends & strangers alike.
We visited my brother in Coal Township Friday morning (Good Friday, as it were). Two hours in the car with two kids and admittedly paltry snacks, yet they behaved beautifully with zero complaint.
The visit went well.
My brother was so happy to see all four of us together. He & Max bonded over Max's detailed rundown of Batman v Superman (spoilers encouraged by Rob)...we caught up, reminisced about my dad's various road rage incidents that may or may not have informed some small part of our childhood, talked about art and music and food and family and jail.
We departed before the kids got antsy and began our three-plus hour trek to the beach.
Again, the kids were awesome.
I declared the remainder of our Holiday Weekend "Plan-free. No agenda."
We basically followed the kids' lead; walk to the beach after dinner? Yes. Go to the place with the Easter bunny for breakfast? Sure. Visit the boardwalk & spend what seems like eternity in the comic shop? Absolutely? Eat tacos for dinner? No problem.
Maeve was insistent on playing at the beach Saturday morning & I indulged her for as long as she was willing (gusty winds, forty degree temps). Luckily, that amounted to mere minutes.
Friday night, we watched Overboard & most of National Lampoon's Vacation with Max after Maeve went to sleep. Max wanted to sleep on the couch with the tv on. "Sure, go for it."
I kept saying to Bill, "they're really being so good."
(As if they're usually mischievous heathens; they're not, by the way).
Max and I caught a cold which leveled me the better part of Saturday afternoon.
Because the Bunny had baskets to fill, we encouraged Max to share the room with his sister at bedtime.
I was expecting whining & arguing (he likes the door open & lights on; she likes the fan loud & room dark, door shut).
They compromised together & we could faintly hear them talking. No idea what they were chatting about and I refrained from eavesdropping...the chatter was short-lived, as they both crashed out. Exhausted & deep into that wonderful slumber one can only fall into at the beach...damn, it's good to be a kid.
I peeked in before basket-filling could commence & gave myself the metaphorical pat-on-the-back for a job well done.
The night light was on, fan on medium, and door cracked slightly.
Compromise & consideration, all on their own.
Lately I get more than I give; to my spouse, to my kids, to our life.
I'm in & out of sickness, adjusting to meds, taking more time for myself than I deserve or even need (running, painting, sleeping)...I can see my husband is stretched thin/juggling/picking up all sorts of slack all while providing for us & driving a shitty commute day after day after day.
Even during this holiday weekend, when he probably needs a break more than any of us, he is taking care of me once again.
As we assemble our kids' Easter baskets (and dig into our new addiction, Cadbury WHITE CHOCOLATE mini eggs; don't knock them til you try them), I thank him and apologize for being a slacker.
We're in this together, always, he reminds me.
It was a good Plan-free Easter weekend.
We didn't quite reset or rejuvenate, but those weren't really our expectations anyway.
We set out to simply connect with my brother, enjoy a change of scenery, unplug from our devices, and follow the whims of our kids.
Now we are home.
I am riding out a fever & chucking lots of tissues into the trash from my bed.
Bill is piecing together a makeshift Easter dinner for himself & the kids.
Maeve is grumpy from a day that began at 6am with way more candy than any little kid should consume in one sitting (whose idea was the trail of jelly beans??).
Max is stuffy and sniffling on the couch, completely wrapped up in a new animator app on his phone.
I hope they had fun & I hope they remember these impromptu adventures when their parents say "yes!" more than "no" or "not right now" or "maybe."
I hope they find ways to connect when they're grown and have their own families; however, I hope when they reminisce, they're not doing so over vending machine snacks & soda in a prison visiting room.
I hope they remember the trail of jelly beans and bunny pancakes and playing together, but I also hope they remember visiting their uncle in jail; I hope they pull those experiences from their memory banks when they're in the throes of making tricky decisions.