Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I need to tell you...

It has been seven weeks since I last spoke to my mom. Since I last held her hand. Seven of the longest most painful weeks I think I have ever endured.  And next week will be eight weeks.  This isn't going away anytime soon....

 You've seen me at the grocery store, liked pictures of my cute kids on social media, waved to me at carpool in the mornings, and made small talk with me in the hallways of church.  You probably think "she didn't bring it up- maybe she's doing okay."

Well I need to tell you I'm not bringing it up because I'm not doing okay.  I'm not constantly talking about my mom because talking about her passing makes it too real for me.  I need to tell you that when I look alright at the grocery store it's because I like to pretend she's gone on vacation or at work.  I'm still fresh in my grief and in denial.  I still can't believe that's she gone and if I don't let myself dwell on it too long, it's easy to pretend just long enough (sometimes) to be in public without having a breakdown.  But even when I'm pretending, reality is still heavy on my shoulders.  I need to tell you that I'm always thinking about her.  I need to tell you that I hate-HATE- talking about her in past tense! Writing about her in past tense is tearing me up.

I need to tell you that every time I get in my car, I instinctively pick up the phone to call her, and have even done so a couple of times before I caught myself.  Her number is disconnected now.  Somehow that makes it hurt worse.  To know that I'll never again in my life see that number on my phone along with a picture of her holding my baby, her grandchild... that's when I can't pretend at that point.  I need to tell you that every time I get in my car, I'm ruined.  Every morning.  After I drop my babies off at school, the ride home is lonely and long, and it seems wrong to fill that time, her time, with something else.  I'm too young to be without my mama, and that doesn't matter because I'm without her anyway.

I need to tell you that it kills me that my children won't have her as they grow up.  Jude won't have all that sweet snuggle time in her recliner that he used to get when we visited or those sweet little gifts of bubbles that she picked up for him just because.  Aubrey Lane won't get those daily phone calls to tell her Maw Maw Katie what she did at school that day or receive little packages of trinkets in the mail that Maw Maw always thought to send.  I need to tell you that my mom was so proud of Jude, and that her only granddaughter was pure joy for her.

I need to tell you how much she loved Lane.  Like a son she never had.  She was always very proud to call him her son in law.  I think when we found each other, she took a deep breath of relief because she knew Lane would be a great husband to her daughter and father to her grandchildren.  A good man.  A rare find.  I need to tell you that I never called my mom and talked bad about my husband. Not because we have this wonderful perfect marriage, but because she knew he is good man and I didn't want to let hot emotions over any arguments change her view of him.  But I don't think it would have.  She loved him so much.

I need to tell you that my mom and I didn't always get along.  What mom and daughter does?  But we always worked it out.  In fact, we got to work out a lot of stuff about a month before we found out she was sick. 

I need to tell you what kind of person my mom was.  She was a great person and a better mom.  When I was pregnant with Jude, it was the first time she couldn't fix something hard and painful for me.  And it killed her.  She tried everything she could and the fact that we both knew she couldn't put a little distance between us. It was something that I had to do with just God. And as I grew more independent in myself, I benched her and she just got to watch.  Years later she would brag on how well I take care of my children and family.  She told me it didn't hurt her to watch; that it was her great accomplishment to raise such a strong woman.  

I need to tell you that when Jude was born, she was so proud of him.  It was an honor to her to be Jude's grandmother. Then a couple months later when Jude was very sick and not expected to live but a few more days, we were in the NICU and visitors could only come a couple at a time and only during specific times.  My mom slept in her car in the parking lot around the clock just so she could be completely available to me whenever I would need her.

I need to tell you that THAT is the kind of person my mom always was for her daughters, family, or ANYONE who needed her.  My mom was the kind of person that you could call in the middle of the night because you were sick and she would get up and come take you to the doctor no matter what she had going in her life.  If you needed my mom, she was there.  No distance too great, no time too inconvenient.  She was there if you called her.  Who she was in our family and her community was overwhelmingly edified at her memorial as I stood for hours and greeted so many people who loved my mama so much.

I need to tell you that my mom LOVED her only granddaughter.  She could not deny Aubrey Lane of anything.  My mom, not normally an emotional woman, cried the day she was born. And from that day, that little girl was the sun in my mom's sky.  It may be the most painful aspect of losing her- knowing that Aubrey Lane's number one fan won't be there to watch her grow up. 

I need to tell you that my mom loved this stupid blog.  She was so proud of me.  She thought I was a great writer and shared every post with pride.  She would read it over and over.  She would complain if I posted without telling her.  She thought I was something special.  Sometimes I feel like losing her equates to losing everything I am in this world.  Not being able to see myself through her eyes is terrifying.

I need to tell you that my mom was the most gullible and the smartest person I knew.  She was funny and believed any magazine or facebook headline out there.  BUT she was soooo smart.  If I had any question, I would pick up the phone and she had the answer.  Especially when it came to business matters.  She helped with tax questions, legal notary questions, anything you could think of.  But she was always Katie.  She was the same person everywhere she went and never was too good to talk to anyone.

I need to tell you that my mom was very old fashioned, simple, and sentimental.  She kept things- baby things, my first casts, locks of hair, quilts and blankets relatives made, birthday cards, little trinkets from places, she kept it all.  But she wasn't an emotional woman.  She was a matter of fact kind of person.  I need to tell you I get so much of that from her.  She didn't let life get her down.  Ever.  She pulled up her boot straps and kept marching.  When the oncologist came in that day at Tulane and confirmed my mom's advanced cancer with its grim prognosis, I think he was waiting for some type of emotional outburst, but he wasn't going to get it; not in that room.  We just looked at him and said "what do we need to do."  That's the kind of person my mom was.  And that's another reason I don't constantly post and share my grief with the public and social media.  It was not; it is not our fashion to do so. 

I need to tell you that my mom was determined to beat cancer, despite the three years she was given.  She told me she wasn't ready to go, but if God decided that it was her time, she said "It is well with my soul." 

I need to tell you that I feel deprived- that I should still have 3 more years with my mom.  I need to tell you that her last month of life, we all came together and made the most out of our time together.   I need to tell you that I wasn't ready to say goodbye to my mom.  But I need to tell you that in the Book of Job, the Bible says a man's days are numbered and we won't be given a minute longer.  I need to tell you that I believe in the scriptures, and that my mom's heart was going to stop on January 17th no matter where she was and what her diagnosis was.  And so I need to tell you that my mom's cancer diagnosis was a gift.  How many people get a month to put a closing chapter on their lives?  But we did. And even then, what I wouldn't give for ten more minutes to hold her hand. 

And I need to tell you that I'm sad, but I'm not mad at God.  And that I pray everyday that one day I can look back and say "It is well with my soul."

Friday, January 13, 2017

First Christmas in the Louisiana Farmhouse

Well I know it's late for a Christmas post, but better late than never right?

Ok... so I had all of these amazing plans for Christmas in our new house.  (You remember the post, right?)  Actually I had been dreaming of Christmas in the new house for years.  But the reality was, we had just moved in the day before Thanksgiving so between unpacking, a busy busy work schedule, and an even busier kiddo itinerary there wasn't a bit of time left to decorate elaborately for the holiday.  And realistically, we didn't have living room furniture, a dining table, a washer and dryer, or even a refrigerator until just a little over a week before Christmas.  So I felt happy just to have those things, let along décor.

To make decorating for Christmas even more of a challenge, (Y'ALL!!) come December most stores were already wiped clean of holiday decorations.  Seriously!! I would walk up and down the same isle ten times, looking behind displays and boxes for some type of decoration that went with the vision I had.

Well despite the Christmas décor despair, I did manage to find a few odd and ends and pulled together a pretty backdrop for my family's Christmas festivities.  The Christmas tree was not overly decorated, but just as pretty as any tree we have ever had.  I couldn't find a tree skirt that went just right with the look I wanted.  Funds were a little tight (just built a house, ya know), my burlap stash was lost in the flood, and like I said- shelves were pretty bare in the Christmas section.  As I was leaving Home Depot with our tree, I walked past the Christmas section and picked up a $3 buffalo plaid fleece blanket. It was perfect!

I found 2 spools of flannel ribbon at HomeGoods- perfect for the tree.  And a sweet friend, found two more spools at TJ Maxx.  I grabbed a few small boxwood wreaths from Joann's and used the ribbon and wreaths to bring a little Christmas into the kitchen.  Other than that I used pops of red with dish towels and a utensil crock to bring in a little more cheer.  I'll probably keep them out through Valentine's Day. 

A funny story about the Christmas tree:  We usually cut down our tree at the local farm the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Well Lane was working, and we couldn't find time to get to the farm. And just like the Christmas decorations, most Home Depots, Lowe's, and other tree lots had pretty slim pickings.  Finally we found a Home Depot with a good selection of trees.  We found an 8 foot "promo" tree with the pretties shape, no holes, and for only $25- another win.  Well once we got home and I started fluffing the tree and putting lights on it, I pulled out a branch.  Weird.  As I kept putting lights, I kept pulling out branches revealing holes in the tree.  It didn't take us long to realize that the good price on that "promo" tree was due to the fact that the tree had plenty of holes that was filled with clippings from other trees.  We were laughing so hard at the whole thing.  By the time I had finished all the lights, the tree was full of holes, we had a pile of branches, and Lane and I were in tears from laughing so hard at the perfect tree we thought we had found.  Believe it or not, it was still a pretty tree.  Our own Charlie Brown tree.

The good thing to come from the Charlie Brown tree, was that I had plenty of clippings to decorate the rest of the house.  I tied a few sprigs onto serving dishes with baker's twine, put some into candle lanterns, and the rest into my dining room lanterns.  We didn't have a dining table at that time, but the dining room was decorated for Christmas nonetheless.

All the simple décor was just so pretty, but what was even more special was all the memories we got to make in our new home with each other.  We spent a great deal of time drinking hot chocolate (and lemonade) by the fireplace, made gingerbread houses, homemade cinnamon rolls, and other sweet treats together in the kitchen, and hosted multiple gatherings with sweet friends and family. I planned a Christmas book advent for my littles this year.  Jude and Aubrey Lane loved it and excitedly begged to open the book each night.  There was no going to bed until they had their Christmas book. 

Christmas Day was the sweetest.  My family was coming over that day so I was up early in the kitchen.  I heard AL stir, so I ran to the hall so I could see her reaction without her knowing it.  After she realized "Santa had come", she ran down the hall and exclaimed "I did not ask Santa for a teepee, but he just knowed I wanted one!"  She was just as grateful as last year.  Jude was more attentive to the festivities than ever.  He loved unwrapping presents and demanded that his toys be released from their packaging immediately.  He was so funny.  Then my family came in and I fed them dinner on a fold out table in our dining room (our table didn't arrive until the 27th) and everyone had a great time.

Looking back on the season, I'm quite happy with the simple décor- it was all about the memories this year, and there were plenty of sweet ones made.