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Wishin’ and hopin’

After finding that email yesterday, I couldn’t resist reading a few more. This one really made me laugh:

“Could you please send me your wish lists? Unless of course you want me to randomly pick things out for you? Send it quickly, ok?

“Yes, somehow I deleted it. I don’t deny it. I don’t know how I did it. And no it wasn’t on purpose. So before you start hassling me how I don’t love you and all just send the list, ok? Thank you.”

She sent that one on Nov. 27, 2010, so she must have been wanting my Christmas wish list.

‘Last Christmas’ (…well, four Christmases ago)

I hate nearly everything right now.
It’s called the holiday blues, and even on my third Christmas without my mom, it’s still kicking my butt.
Sometimes it takes someone else putting it into words for you. My sister Cynda did that the other day. She wasn’t even talking about me, but when I heard those words, “the holiday blues,” it finally clicked. Christmas-time is kind of sucky for people who have lost loved ones. I’m one of those people.

Whether it’s Christmas or some other time of the year and I’m feeling just — I don’t know, sad — for several days in a row, and suddenly I realize it’s because my mom is haunting the back of my mind, I feel a weight pulling on me. That weight is the realization that I will carry this deep ache within me for a very long time, for the rest of my days.

Not this chick?
For a while now, I’ve been feeling like the tough part of me, the part of me most like my mom, has been in hibernation or is gone completely. Just the other day, someone was saying something about expecting me to tell off someone — I can’t remember the exact situation — and described the tough Sarah and how fearsome she was.
“She’s dead,” I said of tough Sarah.
Then, I realized I was also talking about the part of my mom that had been in me. I guess it left when she did.
I found this column I wrote about her a couple years ago, back when she was still alive:
“She stood up to any person who wronged me when I was a child and, as a result, I learned to stand up for myself and for those I love. She shrugged off adversaries whose character flaws made them act maliciously to others and taught me not to bother matching wits with those who have none.”

I can’t stand up for myself very well anymore. I wish I could, but that part of me feels broken. I’m sorry, Mom.

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I went looking in my email for an address today, and this old email from my mom turned up in the search results. She sent it to me on May 30, 2007, when I was living in China.

Hi sweetie,
How are you doing? Sorry I haven’t gotten to talk to you much lately. I’ll sure be glad when you get home. I really do miss you lots and lots.

I loved those pictures of you swimming in the waterfalls. Very good.

Well, all the gang will start arriving tomorrow — Wilma and Leonard, Edward and Peggy, Lois and Lee, Rowan and Grace. Then on Friday, Nathan and Michelle, Gerry and Cynda and the babies. We’re having the family reunion Saturday at the park. Too bad you’ll miss it. You would have gotten to see a lot of family on my side. It could be really interesting, to say the least.

Glad you got your new toilet. Notice how I just threw that in there? Things just sort of pop in my head and I’ve got to say them before I forget them.

I guess Winkie wants me to move to Texas so she can take care of me. Boy, everybody must think I’m pretty helpless. Not this chick.

Well, better get back to the cookies I’m baking for the gang. Love you bunches, sweetie. Take care.

Love,

Mommie Dearest

It feels like maybe she could have just sent it last week. I love when she says everyone must think she’s helpless, and then she declares, “Not this chick.” She was one tough cookie super-mama.

She also refers to herself as “Mommie Dearest,” an old joke between us, and her comment in the middle about my new toilet made me laugh. She was just so funny.

My parents celebrated 40 years of marriage on Aug. 1, 2009.

Though I thought they should go on a romantic date – just the two of them – they insisted they would be delighted if I went with them to dinner.

The day before, as a small gift, I gave Mom a manicure and pedicure. I made it as elaborate as I possibly could so it would be as much like a salon experience as possible. I massaged her hands, feet, arms and legs, exfoliated her skin, pushed back her cuticles and even put a special foot and leg mask on her after soaking her feet for a while (I did the same for her hands with another mask). Finally, I buffed and polished her nails. I had purchased a pink polish specially for the occasion that I knew she would like.

Mom was terribly ticklish on her feet and did a lot of yelping when I exfoliated them. She would howl when I pushed back her cuticles.

This gave me the giggles, of course, which made her amusingly indignant. It took us probably twice as long to get through this process than it would have because we were having so much fun.

She said her hands and feet felt so soft and looked so nice.

That wasn’t the first time I polished her nails for her, and it probably wasn’t the last. But I remember it so well that I think of it every time I polish my own nails or get a manicure or pedicure at a salon.

She was not really awake for her 42nd anniversary and she did not live to see her 60th birthday. I so wish we’d had more time, that there could have been more manicures and pedicures for special occasions, that I could have kept giggling uncontrollably with her for many more years.

*****

The sadness of losing someone so precious is always with me, but I have mostly gotten used to it. However, there are times when something slips through, something taps into the deep place where agony lives.

I try not to think about her last day, in particular, because it opens up something truly terrible and painful that I cannot control.

But it happened last night, that her last expression popped into my consciousness. And I want you to know that while you may never witness someone die, you will lose someone precious. So love like crazy and express it openly, because you will never regret loving. You will never regret loving someone deeply and being patient with them and forgiving them and being humbly thankful that you have them.

Matt (my husband) is on a fishing trip today with his dad.
He provides so much support for me, emotionally and psychologically, that I get very depressed when he is away.
I hate to admit it, because I don’t want him to feel guilty for going and doing fun things or important things like weekends of class in Memphis.
I tried really hard to keep myself from falling into a depressed state – I watched a couple episodes of Conan, I watched approximately 1.2 billion videos on Vine, I played Robot Unicorn Attack 2…and then the iPad died.
The coffee I made is really weak. (I’m out of practice. Matt usually makes it.) The Pandora station I picked is not helping. (Is it the “Yesterday” by the Beatles station or something?)
My gaze wanders to the pencil drawing of my mom by Lindsey. And the tears come. Next to the drawing are my mom’s ashes.
Sometimes I wish I could have raised her, to give her something back for what she did for me, being who she was – so funny and kind and warm and talented. She had a very hard childhood. Her mother suffered from bipolar disorder. She told me she never remembered her mom telling her she loved her or even hugging her.
So I wish I could have raised that beautiful little girl who would become the most amazing woman and my hero taken too soon from my life. Maybe some day I will raise my own little Della. And if my daughter is anything like her, well, that will be the kind of pride that could comfort me in my grave.
God in heaven hears me crying. I miss you, Mama.

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