Thursday evening as we pulled into the middle school parking lot, arriving for the littles’ gymnastic recital, Cooter piped up from the backseat, “I wish Maemae weren’t dead.”
Oh my heart. Bless him. Me too, baby boy. Me too.
I’m not sure what prompted him to feel that, but maybe it’s because she was there for his very first gymnastics recital in 2012. Maybe he was seeing her walking down that sidewalk with us after it was all over, her face beaming and telling him how wonderful he was–I know that memory kept playing over and over in my heart as we drove in and parked.
His sister agreed with him. My Mama had a special gift of making the one she was talking to feel extra special. Valued. Loved. Wanted. A treasure indeed. And she never accepted you putting yourself or anyone else down. Not ever.
She also told me when I needed to get off my pity pot. But that’s a story for another night.
So this is for my children–the ones she loved, the ones she said made her life “grand”–
Maemae loved you. She still loves you. You never failed to put a smile on her face and a song in her heart. She wanted you since the moment she found out you were on your way. And she never stopped wanting you–as her grandchild, in her home, sitting next to her, in her heart.
She never stopped, and she sure shooting hasn’t stopped now.
There are going to be these moments in your life when the pain of her being gone is going to be a little harder than normal, like these past few days–special events, moments that make you think of her, or sometimes, for no reason at all.
And here’s what I want you to remember.
Maemae left you a legacy. A legacy of love. She loved you so strongly that when you sit and think about her and all you did together, I hope it puts a smile on your face. Because you never failed to put one on hers.
But she also left you a legacy of loving. She spent years and years building relationships with people who loved her back and who now love you. Because you are hers and because you are pretty amazing people all on your own. Look around at who is there when you have special events. Look at who answers the phone when you have something to share. Look at who blesses your heart when times are hard. Look at who comes and moves you out of your dorm room or listens to you play piano over the phone or on a video. Look at who listens to your stories and plays with you. Look at who comments on your posts or sits and makes you laugh. Look at Who. Shows. Up.
You were loved. And you still are.
None of those who are here loving you now could replace her, and none of them want to. But what they can do and WANT TO DO is love you and celebrate you and bring you comfort when you are sad. And remind you that you are a treasure.
How lucky we are that Maemae was so good at loving people that she left us with all of these folks who love us too!
Our Princess’ dance teacher retired last year. She returned this afternoon to watch “her girls” perform in their recital. It was a loving gesture, and the girls were so excited to see her and for her to see what they have learned in a year’s time.
As she and I stood backstage watching them perform, it struck me how fortunate we are that Miss B did such a wonderful job of loving and teaching our girls. These girls love her and were sad when she decided to retire, but because she passed the love of dancing along to them, they had what they needed to continue with dance when she wasn’t there.
See, if she had empowered them only to love her, none of them would have returned. What a selfless gift she gave them when she made it bigger than her…..these girls’ love of dance is her legacy.
Maemae was like that with love. She loved us fiercely and taught us to do the same, but instead of always wanting all that love for herself, she taught us to send it flowing outward to others and others and more others. It didn’t stop with her, and because of how she loved, it never will.
That is her legacy.
Tonight I am thankful for women who teach and love in such a way that their absence doesn’t stop all the good things they have taught us. I give thanks that my children remember and miss their Maemae, but even more I am thankful for those who continue to love them in the here and now. I know she would be the last one wanting them sad on special days like these, and I love her so much for building relationships that feed our souls and warm our hearts and celebrate alongside us. I don’t know what I would do without those smiling faces in the audience, those loving voices on the phone, the laughter and the willingness to step in and help. I don’t know what I would do without those who show up.
And I’m thankful I don’t have to.
May we all love and teach the ones around us such that we don’t have to be around for the words and lessons to still matter and guide their hearts.
Love to all.