Mother’s Day

Melancholy rolled over me yesterday for a few different reasons and while I largely tried to ignore it, I couldn’t shake it off either.

Mother’s Day is always a mixed bag for me. I try to focus on my kids and the moment and just enjoy them, but I feel my own mom’s absence even more acutely on this day because reminders are everywhere and inescapable. And then I get texts in the middle of church from my sis about how she is struggling today too and I’m the only one who understands, and it becomes exceedingly difficult to not get teary myself, both because I know she’s feeling sad and the reason why, and she’s too far away to actually see and hug today. I feel guilty sometimes that I cannot fully embrace the day and just enjoy it with my kids, and selfish that a large part of me would like to skip it completely.

So when today dawned gray, foggy, and rainy, I didn’t mind.

I enjoy posts and pics about people and their moms, but seeing them also makes me achy, so I only peek at the internet here and there or mostly stay away. People have every right to enjoy time with their moms and I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who has that privilege not to waste it, it is a thing to be treasured and cherished. Admittedly, seeing the pics, sometimes I have all the envy, but I am also happy for those people.

They passed out tulips to all the ladies at church today, and that was a thoughtful thing to do. I appreciated it.

The pastor talked about handwritten letters and how they’ve really become a lost art, and then he read a story about a woman who wrote letters, many, many letters. She had told one of her children that she had always wanted to write a novel, and they asked why she hadn’t. Her response was something about her purpose in life being to write letters and that she believed that the act of writing them could somehow connect the person to her words and they would feel them, even if the letters never actually reached them, that letters connect us to each other.

I love that thought. I love the idea that writing words about and to someone could affect them in a positive way even if the actual paper they’re written on never reaches them, and how much more powerful it must then be when they hold the missive in their hands and see the words meant for them. I have always thought of writing letters as sending a little love out into the world, maybe a little light, but this story transcended that and took the thought to a whole new level.

Earlier this week I decided to commit to writing letters again since it’d been awhile, so the timing of this felt a bit like affirmation. Going with that woman’s line of thought, that the words affect people even if they never read them, I may have to write some letters to send some love and good thoughts outward, even though I can’t mail them, in hopes that they will reach those people.

That lady may have been onto something. The notes I have from my parents in their handwriting, and especially letters from my mom, are very powerful ties to them for me. I read her words and in my head I can almost hear her voice again, her inflections, her laugh, and most of all, the love. For a brief flash, I can almost feel her presence again, enough that reading one moves me to tears every single time I see her handwriting and read her thoughts. Most of them are just simple glimpses of a few minutes of her day or week, but I absolutely cherish them.

I needed a bit of her with me today, so I wore this.

My mom apparently had a charm bracelet with four charms on it, one with the name and birthdate of each of her four children. The Christmas following her death, one of my brothers surprised us by giving my sister and me each a bracelet and my brother a keychain holding our individual charm. It has been one of my favorite pieces of jewelry since.

Judging by the scratches and somewhat worn look to the charms, I’d guess she wore the bracelet quite a bit at some point. I know some people might get the scratches polished off and make it smooth and shiny again, but those scratches mean she wore it, that it was next to her skin, and that it got dinged during her movements. To me, those scratches represent life, her life, and this simple little bracelet is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

I’m not really sad, but my heart is a bit achy. I’m enjoying the day and trying to relax. I decided to come home and put on some of my favorite soft clothes with a touch of black lace (I am a huge fan of black lace) and now that it’s quiet, I’m about to curl up with a cup of tea in my mom’s teacup (Mom loved her tea) and a book I’ve put off reading because even though I know it’s really good, when I started it months ago, I was in tears before page 3, so tremendous was my empathy for the protagonist, and I put it back down because I didn’t want to be weepy. Today seems like a good day to pick it up again and dive in, because I feel a little weepy. I think I kind of need to cry a little.

And that’s not a bad thing, or even a sad thing, not really. It’s actually a joyous thing, because I was so blessed, so fortunate to have once been so loved that the loss of that love and that understanding has echoed through 19 years and is felt every bit as strongly today as it was then.

So today I’m a little teary. And grateful for it.

But my kids make me smile.

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“Holes Can Still Ache Even When We’re Whole Again”

I was sort of half writing a post in my head/half thinking to myself this morning, as so many things were rolling around in my sleep-deprived brain. Thoughts of maybe I don’t belong/fit some places anymore and that I probably never really did, the people I would hope to stay in touch with, the ones who likely would never notice if I were gone, the reasons why I came, the reasons why I should leave, and just how hard would it be for me to walk away, or maybe it’s just because it’s February and February always seems so hard for me and I’m thinking too much (who, me?!) and next month maybe I’ll feel differently, all mixed in with a conglomeration of thoughts and, of course, feelings.

And then I came across the above statement in a blog article I was reading and there was that moment of YES, someone summed it all up in one short sentence. That statement encapsulates so well what I’ve been feeling, on so many fronts.

I guess the even shorter version is:  I miss people.

There are too many painful holes in me where people are missing. Most days they’re a dull ache I learned to live with long ago, but there will always be some days they throb and stab and that’s just something I’ve come to accept. Then there are other holes that I just want that ache to go away. I don’t want to think about it or feel it anymore.

The only thing I am certain of is that those holes are so deep and so painful because my love for those people was so deep, so profound, and they were so very important to me. So I guess having the ability to love deeply means the flip side is feeling pain and loss so deeply.

I can try to reframe that into I feel pain and loss so intensely because I am capable of loving so intensely and caring so very deeply for people, and try to view that as a positive.

But there are days it’s hard to see that as a positive, when those soul holes ache so badly for people who were an integral part of my life, who were family either by birth or by choice, grafted into my soul as a permanent part of me.

Their absences are like emotional phantom limbs that some days I still reflexively think will be there, reach out to where they should be, and feel utterly lost at the emptiness I find instead.

Soulholes can still ache even when we’re whole again.

On Movies, Stories, and Buried Treasure

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Awhile back, I watched Life of Pi. It was beautiful. I believe I had read “visually stunning” and I cannot argue with that. I am sorry that I did not see it on the big screen. Some of the scenes literally had us “oohing” and “aahing.”

What’s interesting to me is that one of my kids was kind of interested in seeing it, one had heard it was about a boy and a tiger and wanted to see it, and one had heard from their friends that it was “long and boring” and not worth seeing, so didn’t really want to see it.

I mentioned that maybe they didn’t care for it because it wasn’t your typical exciting movie, but that did not mean it wasn’t a movie worth watching, a story worth hearing. Some movies have a slower pace and require that you give them a bit more of a chance, a bit more of an investment, but they can surprise you.

After it was finished, they were all glad they had seen it. They all liked it a lot and the one who had heard it was “boring” was glad they had not listened to their friends and had watched it with us.

It wasn’t an action movie. It wasn’t wildly exciting and didn’t have us on the edge of our seats. It required some investment up front to get to know the main character, learning his back story, before we could understand the main part of the story.

The movie really was beautiful to look at, but it also had, I thought, many subtle insights into human behavior, and some subtle lessons, woven throughout. It was well worth the time invested.

And this started me thinking …

Sometimes it is the same with people. There are those who are loud or flashy or charismatic or funny or outgoing (all in a good way) and immediately draw our attention, much like an action movie or a thriller. They draw us in right away.

Then there are those who may be shy, or quiet, or maybe who have been hurt and are a bit more hesitant to engage, or are just a bit different from us, so we either tend to overlook them because they don’t draw our attention, or maybe they are just a bit harder to get to know, for whatever reason.

Those people can take a bit more investment, a bit more persistence, a bit more “work” to get to know them. Some of those people may be written off as “boring” or “not worth the time.”

Take the time. Make the effort.

I often think of people as buried treasure, not unlike a sunken ship or a diamond mine. Some take more time and effort to get to the good stuff, but oh the payoff.

People are treasure and to be treasured. I believe I can learn something from every single person with whom I cross paths. I believe that people matter and that they contain a wealth of good things, i.e., treasure, though often we need to take the time to “dig” for it, as it is not always readily apparent. I like to think of myself as a “treasure hunter” and my treasure is found in people.

You may be surprised at what a treasure people are if you invest a little time, if you give them a chance. They are worth it.

Everyone is.

There is not a person alive who does not have a story to tell.

They might not be the most captivating storyteller. They might not have the most exciting story. Or maybe their story is absolutely stunning, just told in a simple way. Maybe they have a story that you need to hear. It could be a funny anecdote that is just the bit of humor needed to brighten your day. It could be the start of a wonderful friendship. It could be a lesson that is life-changing.

It could be buried treasure.

Tuesday Truths

I realized today how much I like quiet sometimes. I need it. There are times I think hey, I should turn on some music to break the silence, and then I don’t, because I am enjoying the quiet. I think sometimes I need it. Like this week when I’ve been fighting a migraine and have 4 nights of basketball games with loud buzzers and crowds of noisy people, the quiet is necessary to try to balance myself out. I value people who can be comfortable sharing quiet with me and not feel the need to fill it.

Last night was a prime example of how ridiculously high in empathy I am. My youngest is playing basketball this year. Our little guys played a fantastic game in only their third game – against the same team that defeated them badly their very first game when our boys were still trying to learn to work together as a team. It was an extremely tight game with the lead going back and forth all night and ended up in overtime (we lost by 3 points).

One of our boys fouled out towards the end of the game and sat down, put his face in his hands, and cried. I think he was both frustrated with himself and felt he’d let his team down (he’s one of the better players). His mom was nearby and said,”Aw, he’s so sensitive” (she is similar), but I felt so bad that he felt so bad that I ended up wiping tears. I made a point to tell him he did a great job after. I really should get waterproof mascara for any time I’m out in public. I guess by now I shouldn’t be surprised by unexpected salt water spillage since it’s a not infrequent occurrence with me. Yeesh.

If you’re looking for profound wisdom or regular polished writing, I’m probably not your blog. If, however, you are looking for honesty, stream of consciousness, sometimes deeper thoughts and heartfelt writing, and loads of compassion and empathy, then you’ve come to the right place.

I hope your week is going well. (Hug!)