Today was Mom’s birthday. She never liked attention, but her birthday was the one day she would let us spoil her. I am aware each day with her was a gift. Tonight, I am overly aware it was the first birthday I haven’t been able to sing to her. The chorus of The Walin’ Jennys “Heaven When We’re Home” has been in my head most of the day “it’s a long and rugged road…it’s going to feel like heaven when we’re home.” Mom’s influence continues to impact me.
Mom loved music and I remember my childhood home being filled with music of all sorts. Now, as an adult, very rarely am I in silence. This year, Emma started kindergarten! Our drive to school is not measured in minutes or by the street blocks, but instead by songs. (It takes us exactly one round of Alicia Key’s “Girl on Fire” to go from our driveway to school.) I wish I could share these silly “mom moments” with Mom. There is not a day I do not think of her or wish I could call to share something with her.
I fill days with
to do lists and not to do lists.
Yet, it is in the quiet
the two seconds of radio dead air following Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,”
the pause between my bedside lamp being switched off and my mind going to sleep,
the pitch black stillness of a Montana November sky as snow falls on frozen ground.
These are moments I am both
comforted and heartbroken
by her life and now it’s absence.
A coworker commented “it seems like you were close with your mom.” To which I replied, “I was fortunate. Not everyone is as good of a friend with their mom as Emily and I were. She was an amazing person.” I am always unsure of how to truly express the impact Mom had on my life.
To me – she was grace.
When Josh passed, I filled the void with work and running. Running gave me something to talk about when that awkward moment came up and I could tell my loss made people uncomfortable after asking “how are you?” Running gave me something to “do” when I felt so hopeless and guilty for still being alive. With Mom’s passing, it has felt different. Although I know I am avoiding my emotions, I am more aware I am doing so. I have been attempting to fill the void with friendships, work, eating, grad school, alcohol, running, sleeping, lots and lots of sleeping. When I sit down to write I find myself too exhausted to express emotion and instead give up and sleep more.
In mid September, Courtney was in an ATV accident at work. He had two angels on his shoulders that day to be able to crawl away broken, but alive. The frantic drive to the ER, the sound of him walking on crutches down the hospital hallway, surgery prep, and the slowed sense of time during his surgery brought back so many memories. It reminded me of Josh’s surgery at six months and how scared we were for the unknown of what life would look like. I often feel it is these moments of uncertainty that solidify my faith in the goodness of people. Similar to Josh’s diagnosis and when Mom was placed on hospice, our community has supported us in ways we didn’t even realize we would need help. It is in these moments of crisis that I remember the ability people have to care for each other.
Courtney is strong and resilient. Watching his recovery process and his sheer determination to get better and stronger every day reminds me of Mom. Resiliency and stubbornness are closely related, but so too are determination and courage. Like Mom, Courtney commits himself to do what it takes to be successful and works harder than others are willing to do to achieve results. Courtney and Mom are the kind of people the rest of us lean on for strength and as a result, it is strange to be reminded they too are breakable.
I treasure so many moments I have been able to share with Mom. Although it is strange to not have her here, she continues to shape who I am today.
I miss her.
Happy birthday, Mom.