The 4 longest months

123 days. That is how long I have been motherless. I can’t believe it has been more than 100. It has sucked. This has been the longest four months of my life. Some days I make it until the afternoon without thinking about it while on others it is the first thing I think about. It has gone from a feeling of shock and utter disbelief (although that is still here) to just plain missing her. I want to talk to her, just chat a little. I miss her voice and I’m super scared I’ll forget it. Several years ago Adam transferred all of the vhs tapes from our entire family onto DVD and saved them online. He went through hours of footage to find me the best Christmas gift I could have ever asked for. One more Merry Christmas from my Mama. It means so much to hear her say my name.

press play:

Christmas was hard. Really hard. We found some totes with gifts she had clearly bought for our children, a doctor’s dress up kit for Lainey was in there. Every grandchild got a gift from Grandma. We all gave each other beautiful gifts reminding us of her.

She used to write May The Dear Lord Bless You Today & Always on all of her cards. My Sister transferred it to signs. We have this right over the door as you leave our home.

Her favorite prayer…

We found three recipes in her handwriting!

Everyone got a frame in her handwriting…even the grands. They sit on mine and Lainey’s nightstands. Man, she was beautiful. Her smile was real.

She gave each of us a Goebel angel every Christmas (we have them since 1976). My brother continued that tradition by gifting us our 2017 angels.

Grief is a crazy thing. It is exhausting. It is physical, literally physical. There is pain and emptiness associated with it. My Sister shared something from church….Grief is the price we pay for love. She was everything to us. We loved her so very much and therefore we also hurt very much.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….call your Mom-you just never know.  I know it may not seem like it in this post, but I am trying to focus on gratitude. I am so grateful that she closed our nephew’s door that day so he was kept safe. I am so thankful she knew my Lainey.

I am thankful she was my Mom.

 

ramblings on feeling alone

She was great at making you feel like you were not alone. We had entire text conversations in middle of the night….from bed. She was always there. If something tough was happening or if something big was upcoming in your life, she was available. We could always call Mom and (usually) she would come to be with you. All she needed was a plane ticket and she would come and stay with us for a few days or even weeks. So selfless.

I sit tonight and wonder how all of the Mama’s before me have done it. How did my Sister do it? How did my Mom do it? How did they Mother without their Mother being right there.

Such strength.

I was so excited to raise my daughter with my Mother near. From the very beginning, I knew we were lucky to have her. She died twelve days after she moved here. Twelve. She came over once the week before she died and watched Lainey for an hour or two. I thought, “man this is great, we aren’t alone”. Lainey adores her Grandma (geez….adored, not adores). But here we are. Alone. My amazing brothers and their families are near, yes….but we are still alone. Somehow, I think they probably feel alone, too. I’m sure my sister does. There’s something to be said about having someone that always has your back and will come at the drop of a hat to help out and when that is gone….well, life doesn’t feel as good.

Please don’t misunderstand. I realize I am blessed. Immensely so actually. I have a gorgeous daughter and kind Husband. But, I don’t have a Mom. And, right now that is all I want. I want someone to swoop in and be like my Mom. Someone to tell me that she will help me in three weeks clean two homes from top to bottom for a total of 4,900 sq ft. Someone to tell me that she will help me paint and unpack the dozens of boxes that have been stored away for over a year. I don’t even know how to paint cupboards. That was my Mama. She knew how to do it. She was a helper. To all of us.

There were many blessings surrounding her death that maybe soon I’ll share but the selfish side of me (the human side) just wants to know why? Why, Jesus did you take her. We were just getting started. Why?

When I tucked Lainey in tonight I asked her what she was going to dream about. She said Hattie (her bff) and Grandma. All I’ve wanted to do is sit down and make my sweet child a Grandma book of all of her pictures with Grandma in a hard back book from Shutterfly or somewhere similar. I know she’d adore it but I just can’t do it. I see her pictures on my computer and scroll faster by.

A new life without Grandma

If you still have your Mama, kiss her and remember that you did. I don’t remember when I kissed mine last. Save a voicemail from her. Just one. Maybe tuck it away on your computer for some day. If I could just hear “Hi Shana, it’s Mom” one more time…

I want to share real quickly my fingerprint charm. There is a company out of Iowa that I learned about from a patient back in Nebraska several years ago. It is common to be able to order fingerprint jewelry from funeral homes but they aren’t as unique as from this company. We had to have the kits overnighted and it was a risk. I guess our fingers dry out with time and it wasn’t until five days after that we were able to get these molds. I want you to know that my Husband, my amazing wonderful Husband, hand pressed 14 of these charms from my Mama’s left ring finger. He said it was hard but he did it. For us. I cherish this. I love feeling the grooves against my fingernails when I rub across the top of it. Thank you, Adam. 

Inventory and merchandise

This is a picture of available “lots” at a local cemetery. We spent the afternoon walking two different cemeteries. We were unimpressed by the first one before we even visited it because of simple wording. It is amazing how basic words can sting.

When we went to the funeral home a mere 48 hours after we found our Mom we were greeted much the same. Words like refrigeration and merchandise were thrown around casually as we sat there and cried. There was no sympathy. No empathy. None. We’ve never done this before so for all I know this is normal but I doubt it. It was as if he was desensitized to our reality from too many years of dealing with death every day.

When inquiring about the first cemetery we were given a list of all of the available “inventory”. We know now that the “inventory” is a plot (or a “lot” if you listen to the second cemetery). In the back corner is a huge pile of dirt with a backhoe not far away. Concrete casket vaults were stacked as well. The least they could do is plant a few trees to help discretely hide some of this.

The second cemetery was better. There were hills, trees and benches. The entire process is bizarre, though. It is surreal talking to a complete stranger about burying ourselves on top of each other vs next to one another. We are considering purchasing multiple plots/lots to create a family area so someday we can be by each other and with our Mom. They ask you how many spaces you need like you would ask how many bedrooms you need in a house. Like I said….totally bizarre. There is definitely a lot to be said about making these decisions now for your future family (our children). Talk about making their grieving process easier.

We topped the day off with a fun visit to the storage unit that houses my Mom’s furniture. Good times. Good times. 

 

Hi Grandma

We got news this afternoon. Really big news to us. I wanted to call my Mom but couldn’t. For a minute, it felt like there is no one else in the world but Adam and I. That we are all alone. This isn’t true, of course but it felt like it. My siblings and I have had had this ongoing text thread between the four of us since my Mom’s death. I did the only thing I knew to do and hopped on it and shared our news with them. There’s this weird underlying desire to share this with my Father but I’m not going to. He hasn’t earned that right in my life. He can’t replace my Mom. He can’t even come close. No one can.

We sold our Mom’s car today. I hate it. I hate it. It simply shouldn’t be. She should still be driving it. I found my baby book earlier this week and my Mom’s drivers license from 1989. I don’t know how we go about this. How we literally sort through her life’s belongings. I hate it. I hate it.

I started reading a Christian book about grief. A basic timeline of grief was referenced. They say (and I have heard/read this elsewhere) that between 6-9 months is when things really amp up and feel worse. How can it feel any worse than now, I’ll never know….or, I guess I will (in about 5 months). It also said that when you lose a loved one unexpectedly it increases the average time of grieving from 2-3 years. Three years? How in the world will we make it through?

Oh, and I just heard Lainey in the other room with her toy telephone talking to Grandma (Hi Grandma!). So, there’s that.

The news you may ask? It isn’t even relevant in the grand scheme of things. My Mama is gone. That is the only thing that is relevant. Our offer on an amazing home was accepted-that’s all it was.

Seriously, three years?

Lainey signs to Grandma one last time.

Who do we call now?

She was always there. She was the one that always answered her phone. She always responded to your text message. I guess you could say she was the one person in my life (aside from Adam) that I could rely on answering her phone at any time. Sometimes late at night when I couldn’t sleep I could message her through skype to see if she was awake, too. She often was and we would just message one another back and forth until I was sleepy. She was the first one I wanted to call whenever something (good or bad) happened. She was the first to know about each of our babies, including Lainey.

Grandma and Lainey skyping for the first time

I think my siblings would agree that she was definitely our biggest cheerleader. It didn’t matter if we were wrong or right as in her eyes we were always right. We were her babies.

If you could look up a definition for MY Mother, it would simply say ‘strong’. Nothing ever came easy for her. She was essentially a single Mom to all of us, often working multiple jobs to care for us. Things at home weren’t always great. Life was often unkind to her. Her marriage to our Father was rough in every sense of the word. She was ever so faithful, however and didn’t give up on him easily.

She met her second Husband, Larry, five years ago and essentially began a new life. A life of security, kindness and love. A life where she was the center of his world. He would do anything for her and he did. Life was unkind again and took him from her last year. He fought so hard to stay with her and his passing was painful.

She was alone again. She spent the past 14 months deciding what to do next. Where to go. Who to live near. She was 67 years old and forced to start over once again. She packed her entire life into boxes, put it in storage and hit the road. She traveled a lot this past year. In fact, in the 6 weeks before her passing she drove almost 10,000 miles. She visited friends and family members all over the country. She went to the town in Illinois where she grew up. Each day, my siblings and I would get a picture of a state sign on the side of some interstate somewhere which was our clue to where our Mother currently was. Being alone didn’t phase her. She was strong.