And so it’s time for the pages on the calendar that carry me away to a paradoxical place for a couple of days.
The days that are so full of emotion and good and hard things that it’s difficult to reconcile them all together in my one heart and mind.
February 10, 2007 My baby, my third and last baby–first son, was born.
February 9, 2013 I took my oldest, Aub, to my alma mater for Scholarship Day. The beginning of her college life.
February 9, 2013 My Mama’s 24th day in the hospital and the date of her third emergency surgery.
February 10, 2013 I celebrated my baby boy’s 6th birthday with him for about thirty minutes. The rest of the day I was at the hospital. That night I signed the papers to let my Mama go. And sometime after 10:30 p.m. she left this earth and headed on up to the House.
The paradox of welcoming (my baby) and letting go (my first born).
The paradox of life (my baby boy) and of death (my sweet Mama).
Yeah, it’s a lot to take in.
On the day that my baby boy came into this world, as they wheeled the two of us to our own room they stopped my bed. There was a button on the wall that the nurse asked me to push. When I did, a beautiful little tune played all over the hospital. I remember hearing that same tune many times while staying with Mama at that very same hospital. Though she wasn’t conscious, I still smiled and told her, “Mama, a new baby!” I know she was smiling in her heart too. Babies and little ones were her very favorite people in the world.
There was no button on the wall to press when Mama took her last breath. Only more papers to sign. And tears to shed.
On the same day six years apart, these hands of mine stroked the face of one so loved–first my little guy and then my Mama. One hello, one goodbye.
I wondered if the Universe had a lesson for me when my Daddy’s battle with his Giant ended the day after our Princess’ seventh birthday in 2011. To go from joy to sorrow so quickly as we remember and celebrate and honor is hard–but it’s something we do. Every year.
And then this–to lose and gain all on the same day, years apart.
Oh, my heart.
And though it seems paradoxical and hard, it is actually also very beautiful in its brokenness. This is my fragile time of year. I am beginning to give myself grace and not set any expectations on what I should do or feel or think. I just do. Am. Be. And really, these days of love and loss and laughter and tears are the epitome of what Life is–joy and sorrow, life and death, tears and laughter. And hugs. Hugs of joy and hugs of sympathy.
And oh my, all of the stories.
As the ones who loved Mama so very much gathered around her bed that night, stories were shared. Laughter was heard, and tears were shed. But most of all, the love in the room was palpable–so much so that if there had been an instrument to measure it, I am certain it would have set off all kinds of alarms. Nurses would have come running, and oh, what they would have seen! Love like that, the reflection of the love Mama gave to each one of us, doesn’t come along very often.
Earlier today I read this, part of today’s sermon given by Hugh Hollowell at Love Wins:
“It isn’t the man’s actions or even his faith that bring him healing – it is the actions and faith of the man’s friends. We don’t even know if the man has any faith of his own. We don’t know if the guy is even conscious. Was he a good man? A bad man? We don’t know. All we know is he has friends with faith, and that that is enough. And it is there that I find hope in the story.” – From today’s sermon on Mark 2
This story and Hugh’s thoughts have stayed with me today. There have been times on this journey of letting my parents go that the ONLY thing that has kept me going, the ONLY healing thing in my life, has been the faith of my family and my friends. They have carried me and given me hope, and for that I offer my gratitude. My faith has waxed and waned over the past few years, even more so in the past two. That my babies have lost the people who loved them so much–that breaks my heart. Each time I think on it. That there is a gravestone in the cemetery with my child’s birthday on it–there are days I just. can’t. even.
But there are those who love me who can. And who have. And that’s how I’ve kept going.
Tonight I’m thankful for all of it. Every single “feel” I had then. And every single one I’m having now. I’m just as comfortable with the weeping as I am with the laughter. And I think that’s okay. I miss my Mama and my Daddy every single day. I look around me at those who know the story and still listen as I tell it over and over as many times, in as many different ways, as I need to–and I am thankful beyond measure.
And so tonight I’ve told it one more time. One more way. The story of saying hello and saying goodbye and the years between them that were way too few. And I thank you for reading and hearing it. Tonight I had to write this, because I need to let it all out–the wracking sobs and the heartache. Because on Tuesday, I will make it all about my baby boy. Who isn’t so much of a baby anymore.
Because I know if I don’t, I will be disappointing my Mama. My Mama, who never would have chosen to leave when she did, and who adored that little guy like he was the best thing since sliced bread. Or chocolate milk. She loved all of her grandchildren that way, and I’ve felt her pushing me the past few days to go on and get this out. So that we can party on Tuesday–and all the rest of the month. Because that’s how she celebrated the day that those she loved came into the world–long and hard. When she loved, she loved fiercely and with a love that was (and still is) unsurpassed.
Tonight I leave you with a song that my sisterfriend shared with me about a month ago. This song is my heart right now. I hope that Mama, Daddy, and all the others who have gone before us are dancing in the sky…..
that brings me comfort and makes me smile.
Because my Mama sure did love to dance.
Love to all.