Tonight it hit me. Tonight the tears fell.
It’s been three days since my mom died.
I finally realized why I haven’t gone through my photos to find the perfect picture for the reception. Why I haven’t decided on a caterer. Why I have told people it was “for the best” that she wasn’t suffering anymore. Why I have gone to work and kept busy.
It was because I didn’t want it not be true. I didn’t want it to be real.
I didn’t want my mom to be dead.
But she is. My sweet, feisty, occasionally inappropriate, mom is dead. Not passed away. She hated that expression. She always used to say.
“People don’t pass away. They die.”
The first time I walked into the apartment after she died I was shocked to find that she wasn’t there. Where was she? Why wasn’t she sitting at her desk? Why didn’t I hear her voice? Why was I only making one cup of tea with honey?
I have lost my comfort person. The person I call when life sucks. The person who always picks up and knows that something is wrong before you even speak. And right now I need my comfort person. Because right now life sucks.
She was so brave in these last weeks. She tolerated the imaginable and still kept her sense of humor.
At one point my brother, bless his heart, was trying to get her to take a sip of water from a straw. On the fourth attempt I could see the exasperation in his face. He really wanted….needed her to take some water. She was having none of it. Without even opening her eyes she put her hand up and said “Piss off”. Classic mom.
I know that she is still here with me in her own special way. Telling me that it’s going to be okay. Maybe she’s right. She usually was.
The Best Thing in Life is that I will have eighty four years of memories to keep me company. But tonight, the tears will continue to fall.
Is it possible that after fifty years I have finally figured out what love really looks and feels like? I mean, really feels like. Deep in your heart and soul. It’s not that my life has been without love for that long but until recently I don’t think that I really understood love. How powerful it can be and how it can complete your life and bring you contentment and peace. I have been happily married for almost fourteen years but in the last couple of years I think that I have finally accepted how great love can be.
When I met my husband I had only been separated from my ex husband for 10 months. I had some trust issues you could say. I had pretty much sworn off men but my co-worker was convinced that I needed a date. She even went so far as to list all the single attractive men that worked for our company. I hate to say it but I said “no way” to her suggestion of the man who is now my husband. He was eight years younger than me and well, did I mention that I had sworn off men. As a new mom I just wanted to try to enjoy the few moments I had to myself outside of parenting and work. Yet somehow, on a company road trip to Seattle to see a basketball game, I found myself drawn to this man. And once the connection was made a couple of months later, there was no turning back. I knew right away that I would spend the rest of my life with him. So much for swearing off men.
There was a moment very early in our relationship when I knew I could fall in love with my husband. It was just before Christmas. We had been trading emails and chatting a bit at work. I must have mentioned the fact that I had lost all of my Christmas tree ornaments in the divorce and had a tiny little Charlie Brown tree with only a couple of sad ornaments on it. I walked past his office one day and he called me in. On his desk was a gift wrapped box. Inside were four beautiful dark green glass ornaments and matching green and gold bowls. I was so touched that he not only remembered but had been so thoughtful. My divorce had left me in a fairly fragile state and this simple gesture restored my faith and put me on the road to learning about real love. Every year I take them out and tell my kids this story while we decorate the tree. My seven-year old thinks it’s romantic. My eighteen year old just rolls his eyes and sighs.
The journey from then until now has not always been an easy one. We have been separated for long periods of time due to work. We have had differences of opinions MANY times. We have co-parented with a sometimes difficult ex husband. We have made the decision to not have any more children and then changed our minds and embraced our little fireball. We have struggled through self employment and all that it entails. We have fallen down and learnt how to get back up. We (I) have given up trying to control the direction my life and the life of my family takes. We have cried and raised our voices and gone to bed angry. Yet somehow we are still married and in love.
The reality is that I love him more now than I did on the day we got married. I know him better. And he knows me better. He has taught me so many things. Because of him I am more open to love and kindness. A combination of the way I was raised and a bad first marriage left me closed up and afraid to get hurt. Did you know that you can be angry with somebody and then let it go and move on? I didn’t. I believed that if somebody did something to make you angry that you stayed angry at them. For a long time. Who knew that letting go of anger so quickly was so easy. I also didn’t know (or believe) that if I had done something to make somebody angry that they could forgive me and still love me. On the same day even. Again, I believed that forgiving and moving on took days. If it happened at all. But I now know that this is what love really looks like. The security of knowing that you can screw up and the sky won’t fall on your head. This is what my husband has taught me.
A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other. The Best Thing in Life is that over the years he refused to give up on me and I refused to give up on him. So, don’t just look for love. Look for real inconvenient, ridiculous, can’t live without you love. Because that’s the love that you deserve. And don’t give up. It may take years to fully embrace, but it is most definitely worth it.