Gentle Advisement: The following post involves the passing of a family member. This happens rather quickly, and the remainder of the piece is uplifting and wise. But if you are not in a comfortable space to read of such at the moment, perhaps you might want to visit Bonnywood on another day.
I typically write an extended introduction for the Spotlights, setting the scene and transitioning to the selected work of the featured writer. But in this case, I feel it’s best that we go directly to Kelly’s reflection, as her words are beautifully arranged and I’d best not tinker with that. Enjoy.
My Mother in Heaven & My Children on Earth
My mom died. There. I said it. It still doesn’t feel real to me, even though I held her hand and looked into her eyes as she left this earth. God’s gift to me was that she not go alone, in a strange bed in a strange place. Abandoned. My heart could not bear the idea.
Mom and me, Thanksgiving 2013.
My mom went into the hospital with multiple problems, including a stroke. It wasn’t until I spoke to her ICU nurse who explained Mom had status elepticus (a long-ass seizure) that it began to dawn on me I might never hear my mother’s lilting voice say, “Hi, Kelly” ever again.
If I understood music notation, I could tell you the notes she used when she picked up my calls. “Hi” was in the middle of the bar. “Kel” was way up there, a high note. And “ly” dropped below the “Hi,” whatever note that was. The lyrical way Mom greeted me is burned into my memory because it said, I’m so glad to hear your voice, Kelly.
Now I have the soundtrack to Terms of Endearment stuck in my head. It was my gymnastics floor routine music, and Mom said it always made her think of me. Now that she’s gone, that song makes me think of her. And I am run over by the freight train of legacy. Love your kids, Kelly, before the same fate befalls you. The one that claims all of us. Want to cry?
When I came face to face with my mortality, I stopped working on my opus and made meatloaf (a step up from our usual loveless salad). I wrote love notes to Bob, crush-hugged my kids, drank beer, took long, sobbing walks with Abbott, and turned my heart inside out on this blog. I wanted to be understood. And still do. Once I’m dead, others will interpret me based on how I lived. Let that sink in. Once you’re dead, others will interpret you based on how you lived. Your intentions die with you. And your dreams, hopes, regrets. Will people know you loved them? It is vitally important that my children, family, and friends know I love and appreciate them, that they have real estate in my heart.
When a blogger writes a post, there’s usually one thought that is the reason for all the other words and phrases, one central idea that is important enough to bring her to the keyboard and keep her there. For this post, the thought is this: my mom is in Heaven. I can’t tell her I love her anymore. She can’t apologize and neither can I. But my children are here, on Earth. I still have time to tell them I’m sorry and I’m proud of you and I love you in all the ways we moms have at our disposal to communicate such weighty things, to give the blessing.
What is the blessing?
You are valued, child. Cherished. Loved. And not because you’re brilliant or beautiful or handsome. Not because of your wit or charm or any form of perfection you bring to the world. I love you because you’re my daughters and sons. I may hurt or disappoint you or make you cry. Or infuriate you. But I won’t stop loving you. When my turn comes to be gone, I hope the memory of us will make you smile. That’s it. The idea. Not new. Just mine right now, as I miss my mom and get checked by grief when I least expect. In the line at Wendy’s. Putting away the dishes. A whiff of someone’s cigarette.
It’s high time I wrote new posts to my husband and children. But for now, I’ll share this letter I wrote to Bob’s beautiful mom who died when we were eighteen:
Dear Gigi, I chose you after giving it about thirty seconds’ thought. You’re right up there with Hitler and Jesus and the young me, which is a rather strange party, I admit. Can you imagine the four of us playing Peanut? I just played that game for the first time, by the way. Never played … Continue reading
And with that, we head off to Kelly’s world. I contemplated posting all of the Letter to Gigi here, as it’s quite lovely as well, but I finally decided it was best to end with the link, just as Kelly did in her original post. It feels right.
You can peruse more of Kelly’s work by clicking here. If you have comments specifically for Kelly, please be gracious enough to make them on the original post found here so Kelly can be assured of receiving your thoughts.
Note on the photos: The opening snap is mine, selected from the archives. The rest of the photos, both in the shared piece and the connecting links, are all Kelly’s.
Categories: Blogger Spotlight