[mama n' me]
It's been two weeks since my mom's first anniversary memorial and it blows my mind that she's been gone for an entire year. I had left myself a buffer of a few weeks to sort out thoughts and emotions, but when it came down to it I was one. hot. mess. Especially because Mom's was a week after the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, and those memories revolve a lot around my parents. I sat down to write about my mom and the waterworks started -- surprising because I thought I was fully resolved that she had truly finished her life and was therefore okay with it all. But the truth was -- and is -- that I will always, always miss this lady.
When I have bad days, I miss my mom's comforting hugs. She always insisted that it's okay and I'm still young and it'll work out.
When I have good days, I miss my mom's celebratory hugs. I miss her comments on my haircuts and manicures. I miss her guilt trips over my shopping, until I told her I got a good deal, and she'd say, "Good girl!" I miss her curiosities over my knitting or sewing or embroidery projects. I miss the way she said, "turtle," or "squirrel." I miss her grammatically precise emails, how she always wrote, "perhaps," and never, "maybe." And her texts. I miss her laugh. All the seeming little things that are such huge and gaping holes in my life, now that they're no longer a few miles down the road.
So, you see, I can't have a day that's not without missing some part of my mom.
My coworker saw my puffy red eyes coming out of the ladies room, put her arms around me and let me sob into her shoulder for as long as I needed. She lost her mom a few months after me, so knew exactly how I was feeling and exactly what I needed. Thank God for sending angels at just the right time.
As the weekend progressed, we observed the cultural customs. At the Buddhist temple, we found Mom's photo on the big wall along with all the other people who've died. Her coordinates are OO-64. The feeling of being so separated from her was surreal and discomforting. My younger brother had his mini-meltdown then. The next day, when the extended group -- family, coworkers, high school alumni, college alumni, NZ alumni -- gathered at my dad's house, was another day of showing up. I'm so grateful to my cousins who helped with all the food and serving! My youngest brother had his meltdown then: in addition to mourning and missing Mom, he just found out that one of his housemates was killed in a hit-and-run bicycle accident. Sadness and shock all over again.
The picture above is one I took of me and my mom at the black sand beach at Waia'napanapa on the island of Maui, when our entire family vacationed there in 2009. It was our first family vacation since my brothers were kids, and Mom's first year of retirement. We ate and drank and talked and faught and swam and shopped and drove and watched the sunrise and had a great time. My SIL later shared that my mom actually said she had fun, that she did things -- like snorkelling -- she'd never done before and never thought she could do. With all her kids. At the same time. How awesome is that? After a lifetime of work and struggle and never thinking that she could ever rest, I'm happy that she had a couple years to relax before she left us.
I won't try to wrap up this post in any succint or "lesson learned" manner because the truth is, this sadness and gladness over my mom will ebb and flow for the rest of my life. I don't know whether that's okay or not; it just is.