Mother’s Day

I have dreaded this day, and weekend for the most part, for basically a year. Almost exactly one year ago, I called mom after she had a very important doctor’s appointment in Houston. I asked almost immediately how it went, what they said, and what are we going to do.

There was a pause.

Thinking the signal was lost I said “Hello?”, and through tears mom said that she did not want to do this over the phone. My heart sank, but I changed the subject so mom would stop crying. That did not keep my mind from wondering what that meant, and I quickly began googling timelines for mom’s type of cancer. I saw variations, but generally it was three months to a year. I prayed and prayed and prayed that if this is what it is, give mom a year. Let her have her fiftieth birthday, let me have one more Thanksgiving, one more Christmas, and one last Mother’s Day to celebrate with her.

Unfortunately she was not given a year, as God must have needed her almost what seemed like immediately. I did not get to watch her turn fifty. I did not get to have Turkey with her and family. I did not get to go through a stocking she gave me stuffed to the brim with candy even after I told her not to since I was trying to lose weight. And today, I did not get to send her a card with a gift card to Corner Bakery, wishing her a happy Mother’s Day, telling her that she is the bestest Mom in the world.

This is of course how I, and I’m sure many others who have lost someone close, thought for many weeks if not months. However, as I read moms notes and looked at her pictures, I realized that I don’t need one day out of the year to celebrate my mom, I can celebrate my mom every single day. Every day I think of her, and think of how thankful I am to have known her, to have been close to her, to be her son, and to have been raised by such a wonderful person. This is what I say every day, because I know she is, and always will be, with me and she deserves to know just how proud I am to have her as my mom.

So, to all the moms and grandmothers out there, both in person and in our hearts, know that no matter the circumstances, no matter the history, and no matter the distance, you are the most important woman in someone’s life and are celebrated not just today, but every day.

Happy Mother’s Day mom, I miss you and love you more than you could ever imagine, and I hope you know just how happy and honored I am to call you mom.

 

Proverbs 31:25-30 – “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

Happy Birthday to You!

Today is mom’s birthday.

Every November 11th (Or closest weekend to it), I would do the same thing. I’d go to Corner Bakery and get two Chopped chicken salads. One with no tomato, and one with no onion. I’d make sure we both got pieces of bread, and would get a lemon pound cake for mom. Today was no different. Well, I guess it was a little different. There was a lot more tears, a lot more memories, a lot more thinking, a lot more hoping, a lot more wishing.

I drove up to the small town in Tennessee mom moved to, to be as close to her as I could for her birthday, but being a small town, there was no Corner Bakery to go to. Yet I still went to Corner Bakery with mom.

I actually had a dream last night. I was at lunch at Corner Bakery with mom. We both had our salads and were sitting across from each other. She looked so happy and so beautiful. She didn’t look like she did when she passed away, she looked like she did when she was in her early thirties. Smiling, long brown curly hair, wearing an outfit I would see her wear to work, all pretty with her jewelry, but there was a different kind of “brightness” about her, she seemed to just glow as she smiled at me. It was a long dream, but I only remember bits of it. I remember the beginning, she smiled and looked at me and said how happy she was to see me, and that she misses me. After that, I don’t remember much until the end, when I guess it was time to go and she smiled at me again and said that she loves me and that I shouldn’t be sad and she is always watching me.

I woke up after she said that, and after realizing it was a dream, I tried my hardest to fall back asleep to go back to her. I could not though, so I laid there, tears streaming down my face wishing I could go to lunch with her again. Wishing that she were here to go get a birthday sundae from Baskin Robbins.

It doesn’t make sense to me. A birthday is supposed to be a celebration of life. A time to remember the past, but look towards the future, look towards the next birthday. It’s hard to celebrate a birthday of a loved one without them.

It was as if God made sure for me to know that He, and heaven were celebrating her birthday. As we drove around today, it seemed everywhere I looked He was telling me that mom was being celebrated. I saw three or four happy birthday balloons scattered about, and saw at least 5 announcement boards (like on gas stations or at a McDonald’s) that read “Happy Birthday”. I’m sure she’s in heaven eating her weight in Cracker Barrel pancakes and lemon pound cake having the best birthday ever.

Mom would’ve been 50 years old today.

 

Happy birthday mom, I love you!!

Mark 9:36 – 37; Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”

October

Another month passes by without mom, this one in particular was a bit harder than the first couple. October was always mom’s favorite month. It was kind of like a “Peace” time, as it was a month without any major things happening. September was always crazy between school and my birthday, and November had her birthday and Thanksgiving. She loved that the weather was finally changing, and in Texas that was always something to look forward to. Besides the cooler weather, October is always prime time for football. Mom was a big Cowboys fan, and we even did fantasy football for a year and her team name was “Dak to the Future”. I was/am the commissioner for the league that we played, and when the time came to start fantasy again this year, nothing was harder than staring at her team, knowing that she wasn’t going to be playing again.

 

Everyone deals with the passing of a loved one differently. For me it’s avoidance. I don’t like it, but it’s just what I’m doing/did, and if I could stop I would. When I say avoidance, I don’t mean that I’m not accepting the fact that mom passed away, I just avoid (subconsciously) thinking, or talking about it. Of course that’s where therapy comes in to help that avoidance.

 

Anyways, back to the story.

 

This fantasy football thing was the real first instance that I truly had to face the fact that mom was actually gone. I wasn’t going to stop the league, others still wanted to play, but were very understanding if I wanted to take a break for a season. Outside of mom’s actual passing, nothing has been harder than hitting the “Delete Owner” button next to her team name. I’m not exaggerating when I say it took me days to build up the strength to do it, and I cried every time I looked at her name. It may seem minor, but I will never forget sitting on that couch, closing my eyes, holding back tears, and finally hitting that button.

I did feel a sort of sense of relief, and even could hear mom in my head go “Good job Alex!” the way she used to. I know that there is nothing she wants more  than for me and all of her loved ones to move forward with their lives. To never forget her, but not dwell on her.

 

I know she and God gave me the strength to move forward, and will continue to.

 

Psalm 32:8 – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with MY eye upon you

Loving Arms Forever

It’s been almost two months since mom passed away, but the thought still stings just as if I was there again. Holding her limp arm, staring at her face, praying she’ll take that one breath and she’ll be back. Probably make a witty joke about all of it and want some ice cream. I stayed, holding her hand for what seemed like hours, and that breath never came. I sat there, holding her hand, bawling. My heart melted from the amount of sadness I was feeling, then something happened.

 

There was a tap behind me. I figured it was just one of the cats, but both came walking from the other side of the room. Then I felt arms around me, hugging me. They felt cold, but at the same time warmed me and took away the sadness. I didn’t want this hug to go away, but eventually the arms left and then I watched the door to the room open wide and then slowly close. I, without a thought, said “Goodbye mom”.

 

I’d give anything to have her hug me again.

 

That was the first instance. A little background before the next instance. Whenever I was with mom she personally would wake me up and sit on the bed next to me and we’d chit chat. It was one of those “Little things” we did that I’ll forever cherish.

After mom had been taken away, I went back to my room to try to get some sleep. I eventually fell asleep and dreamed about mom waking me up like she always did. It was at the point where she had sat down that I woke up. I stared at the spot next to me where mom was in my dream. I reached my hand out and felt that cool, yet warmth I felt before. Then it felt like a hand gently held my arm. It felt the same way mom held it for her last few days. Again, I didn’t feel sad, I felt secure and loved.

 

I knew it was mom again. I told her to come visit me from time to time, that I will miss her and I love her, and that everyone loves her and is so proud of her. Then I felt another hand sort of pat my arm the same way she did before she passed, and I watched my door open a bit and close. She was gone again.

 

But that’s not the lesson her and God are trying to teach me. Quite the opposite. Mom isn’t gone, shes all around and that was her way of telling me she will be.

 

Matthew 5:4-“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Appreciate the “Little Things”

On July 5th of this year, mom had her first appointment with MD Anderson, as she had run out of treatment options back home in Tennessee. Obviously, I called her when I knew she was done so I could know if she was okay or not. I optimistically asked what they had said to her….there was a pause….I, being naïve, wondered if the call dropped and asked “Hello?”. Mom’s response brought my worst fears to a reality. Through tears she told me, “I don’t want to do this over the phone”. I felt my heart drop and did everything I could to stop the tears from coming. I quickly changed the subject to continue our conversation tears free. However, I was powerless when the conversation ended, and I sat in my chair weeping. I knew what that kind of response meant, that the worst is here. I knew my mom was given a timeline. I cried everyday with every new thought about what I would miss with mom gone.

The first thing I thought was Mother’s Day, and how sad that day will always be.  What does one do on Mother’s Day when they have no mother?

The second thought was my mom’s birthday in November. Would she even make it to 50 years old? And even so, what about the birthday after? I had a tradition for her birthday. I would always get her a chopped chicken salad and a lemon pound cake from Corner Bakery and a $20 gift card, plus some other present, usually a Texas A&M shirt. I thought to myself, I don’t get to do that anymore, I don’t get to celebrate her birthday anymore.

Another thought was my birthday. Every year, both my parents would have a competition on who could wake me up the earliest so they can say they said happy birthday first. I usually lied to both and said they both won (Don’t tell them that). However, that’s going to be different. Dad will be the winner every time (Unless my girlfriend has something to say about it!).

Finally, the thoughts that makes my heart the saddest are all the little things I will miss. I no longer will be able to call mom while I walk home from class and just chat about things, ask for help, plan, and see how she and my step-father are. I will forever miss hearing her voice. I no longer will have her to play card games with, and have her and my girlfriend gang up on me. I will forever miss playing games with her.

I no longer will be woken by her in the morning, and have her sit on my bed and talk to me for a while about life and what we would do that day. I will forever miss waking up and talking with her. It is these “little things” that have the biggest impact, because they are the ones that are gone. I still can (And plan to) tell her Happy Mother’s Day. I still can (And plan to) celebrate her birthday, and eat Corner Bakery with her. I still can (And plan to) believe she will try to beat dad at saying happy birthday to me. Although I will forever miss all the “little things” me and mom used to do, these memories have taught me not to take things that seem so small for granted. I will cherish these memories more than the holidays I will miss with my mom, because these memories are what my relationship with mom was.

Even when she’s gone she still teaches.

 

 

Luke 16:10- “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”