I’ve read a few good books lately, and one of them is The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver. I enjoyed it immensely, though it required quite a bit of suspension of disbelief. Which I am okay with, as I often feel like my own life is better when I apply that mechanism.
However as I read, I found myself struggling with some of the decisions Lydia made. I pushed through because if there is one thing I have learned in the past thirty years of my life, it is that we all grieve differently. And that is OKAY.
Grief comes in and out, intertwining in our lives, in almost as many ways as there are people who grieve, and for those who say “Well I’d never…..” I seriously wonder if they’ve ever lost someone they loved. Grace is most needed when grief is in our lives.
After cringing a little at one choice Lydia made in particular, I continued reading, emotionally invested in the story, because I remembered the container in my freezer that I found a few weeks ago. Any sane person would likely judge me and be disgusted, grossed out, or say I needed help.
And all of that would be valid.
The weekend of March 14 our dancer was supposed to go with her competition team to perform two numbers in Atlanta. The decision was made by the organizers on March 12 to postpone due to the governor’s decision to limit gatherings to groups of no more than 50 people at that time. So I found myself with a Saturday morning free that I had not expected. It was a pleasant day outside, so I decided to defrost my freezer. There are no incriminating photos, but suffice to say it’s been quite some time since I did this and IT NEEDED IT BADLY. I had a grocery pickup for later that day, and I wanted to have room for everything. I listened to music and loaded things into a cooler and turned on the blow dryer and watched ice melt.
It was actually quite pleasant. And I felt productive, having no idea the long road we had ahead of us.
In the midst of my moving things to the cooler, I found an old small plastic container. I saw my Mama’s trademark masking tape she used for labelling things before I saw her red Sharpie handwriting with what was in it and the date.
As some of you may know, Mama left this world in February of 2013. The label was for June of 2012.
I have most assuredly cleaned out this freezer many times before this year, and so each time I have, I guess I made the conscious decision (though I don’t recall) not to throw it out.
My Mama used to make barbecue when I was growing up. She cooked the pork roast and shredded it and made her sauce from scratch. I still have the recipe here somewhere, and while I might have tried to make it a time or two, to be honest, I was never a really big fan of it. It was tangier than I liked back then (though now I have different tastes), so at some point Mama started putting some aside and making a gravy so that I had pork roast and gravy sandwiches instead of barbecue. This was not a common occurrence in our home. Picky eaters were not indulged, as we were a family of six and could ill afford to cater to everyone’s individual tastes and preferences on a regular basis. And while it might not have been every time she made barbecue, it is a precious memory for me that Mama took the time to do this on occasion. I felt seen, heard, and loved.
Never mind that it was delicious.
The label on the small container said “PORK ROAST W/GRAVY” along with the date in June of 2012.
A date of no significance.
It wasn’t my birthday or any other celebration. Just an everyday. Regular plain old get up and do the daytodailies kind of day.
But Mama made it special by making me this pork roast with gravy.
Feeding folks was her love language, you see, and I felt so loved by her. When she’d eat my mushrooms off my pizza (only as an adult–as a child I had to learn to eat some things I wasn’t exactly crazy about), when she made my quiche without bacon (it was a phase), when she made every single meal special somehow…..I felt loved.
And so that’s why I found that little container with my Mama’s handwriting on it seven years after she passed.
Because it reminds me I am loved.
And while I’ve had to let her go, I didn’t want to let go of that feeling. Or of the reminder, the symbol of being loved for all my quirks and both because and despite of who I am.
And remembering all of that, I forgave Lydia her choices and really loved the book.
Finding that dish reminded me we all have weird and off the wall and outside what might be deemed socially acceptable ways of handling loss. ~Loss-such a funny little word for something that encompasses every breath and fiber of our being.~
As our lives have all changed so drastically, some more than others, since that day five weeks ago when I was cleaning out my freezer, grief is bound to come. I encourage you all to let it. And–as Mama used to say sometimes–“as long are you aren’t hurting anyone, I’ll allow it.” Grieve however you need to. And allow others to do the same. Grief and grace are best served together.
One more thing about that dish. As parents or anyone loving someone else through this new way of living we find ourselves in, please know you don’t have to make big gestures to show someone you love them or to make precious memories. And it doesn’t have to be a “special” day. What that little dish with my Mama’s handwriting on it reminds me is that everyday, the “every” ordinary day is just as good as any special occasion day to show someone how much they are seen, heard, treasured, and loved.
May we all find a way to remind someone of that and to be reminded. Make memories in the midst of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Today is a great day for that. In the words of my Mama, “Happy Everyday!”
Love to all.