Sometimes distractions are a good thing. Since losing my momma this spring, the upcoming holidays have been like this flashing, looming billboard, off in the distance, but somewhat visible. It says:
“Hey you, in case you forget, Thanksgiving, your birthday, and Christmas 2022 will be without your momma.”
Perhaps it’s because everyone says all the firsts of the first year after loss are the hardest. I’m not sure who made that up, but so far it’s been spot on. So, for months, I’ve been sad over holidays that haven’t even happened yet. I doubt I’m the only one.
Remember that song- ‘Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go?’ I was thinking about it this morning.
If you’ve lost your grandparents like I have, hearing that song brings memories of childhood trips. I was in my 20’s when my first grandma passed and my 40’s when my second one passed.
My kiddo didn’t get a lot of years with his grandma (my momma) like I did with my grandmas. This will be his first Thanksgiving, birthday, and Christmas without her, too.
Distractions lately have been good. Clubs, bowling, art, new booth. Now here it is, two days before Thanksgiving. It’s a bit surreal, really.
In the beginning, people always said to me, “I can’t imagine” as in what it’s like to lose their mom. Sometimes, my big sister-ness in me wants to protect people from what it feels like because it is flat out heartache.
Other times I feel called to say what it’s like, because sometimes we don’t see the loss coming and sometimes they’re too young and sometimes we are not prepared and sometimes the shock stays around a long time and sometimes there are no manuals for this.
This Saturday, November 26, it will be 8 months since my momma passed away. My how I miss her every single day. The shock that it happened, comes and goes, and I still catch my breath when I realize she’s gone. Crying has lessened a bit, but it still happens a lot of days.
We’re going ‘over the river and through the woods’ on an 8 hour drive to have Thanksgiving with my dad and siblings. It’s going to be really hard to not hear my momma’s whistling and laughter that filled up 3 counties. She so loved the holidays.
If you are in similar shoes this holiday season, my heart goes out to you. Truly.
Distractions are good… until having to face what we don’t want to see. I may cry the entire meal on Thursday. And, that’s ok. She knew I was a heart on my sleeve cry baby and if it were somebody else’s empty seat, she would’ve handed me a Kleenex.
Hugs, if your holidays look or feel different, too.
Today I took an art plunge. I set up my stuff in a local resale shop. I’ve never done anything like that before, so I was a bit nervous.
As soon as I started filling the shelves, I about fell over! One of my momma’s most favorite songs came on the radio in there! Followed by another one and another one. So, my gratitude today is about my momma and her love for music and that I’m proud of myself for not quitting art.
CCR’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain”
The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”
CCR’s “Suzy Q”
me, taking a leap for art
It felt good to actually get it set up. To give my art and myself a chance. Will it be successful? Already is, it’s out there. It never even would’ve been seen in my basement. So, that feels like a win.
Thanks for being here and for all the kind comments yesterday. Means a lot!
taking a leap when what I really want to do is run
encourage-rs who have my back
sticking things out, even when it’s hard
trusting myself some more
I’ve almost quit two things recently. Art and bowling.
Seriously. Twice at the bowling alley, I have said out loud, “I am going to quit!” The first time was a Saturday night when my son, husband, and I were practicing. I could not get anything right!
Gutter. Gutter. Gutter.
Gutter. Gutter. Gutter.
The second time at bowling was sooooo embarrassing. I’d been practicing with my son’s ball and the finger and thumb holes are smaller. So, I get up there on my first throw of the night, brought my ball back and…
As in backwards.
I heard someone say, “Oh Jessi” in a sort of ‘what in the world are you doing’ tone, then I turned around to see all these really great bowlers staring at me.
I could’ve crawled into a hole.
I almost walked out.
I mean, come on! I dropped the ball. I’ve gotten LAST place 25 out of 27 games. Everyone there knows I’m new. Hello. I’m sick of being last.
Enter art. I LOVE art. I make some pretty cool and unique things with vintage jewelry, but lately trying to figure out what to do with it after I make it has been wearing me out.
There are so many options and weighing the choices is simply exhausting. On top of of that, I’ve been trying to find my value in a world already jam packed with art.
All of that has got me to thinking about my momma and her art. She was an amazing artist. She never sold any of it, but she blissfully kept on creating it. I’ve been trying to figure out if that is my fate and purpose too, or if my pieces are meant to be with someone else.
Yesterday, I made a choice. I chose. I decided. That ever happen to you? Where simply deciding brings such peace and a joy that springs forth like a bloom?
With my art, I’m going to try something new. A new place, just to see how it goes.
I decided I’m not going to give up on bowling either! In fact, I got a new ball. I’ve been practicing my steps at home and in the yard and I’m going to work with a coach this week.
All those gutters and that dropped ball aside, I am getting better. My scores were in the 50’s, now they’re around 100. In only 9 weeks. Pretty darn good, even with the embarrassing ball drop.
My hunch is that losing my momma this year is at the root of all this indecision. Grief can really seem to pour on the doubt. But, I think my momma would be pulling for me in both bowling and art.
With that in mind, I believe I’ll keep right on going. Perhaps my art will find some homes and maybe I’ll even turn that lowest score of 25 out of 27 games into the highest score in 25 out of 27 games.
I’m standing in my dining room, looking out the window. It’s night and the way the kitchen light is angled, I can see things on the counter, even with my back to the kitchen. The cookie jar, bananas, apples, and chicken art are visible from here.
This afternoon, the front porch rails, bannisters, and I became friends. Some green muck tends to grow on them, creating layers of crusty looking junk. It may be caused by summer’s humidity, I suppose. Well, after walking by them for about the billionth time, I went inside and got a sponge.
An hour later, I had done some good work. My friend tells me that her gramma had a saying about work, that hard work is good work.
It sure is.
My other bit of good, hard work came from me moving a big, wooden bookcase from the garage to the dining room. It took up residence in the garage after we unloaded it from the moving truck four years ago. For whatever reason, it stayed there.
But, suddenly, in April, I wanted it in here! My momma passed away out of the blue on the last Sunday in March. I wanted it in here so I could see it every day and fill it with all the things she’s given me and my collectibles through the years.
That was seven months ago and never got moved inside…
My momma was a “get things done-er.” My dad worked a lot of hours supporting a family of six, so if she wanted/needed things done, She did it. If she didn’t know how, she learned.
Like my dad, my husband works a lot of hours supporting our family of three. I could’ve waited until he got home, but I thought I could do it myself.
I didn’t quite know how to get the bookcase in the house, so I just started. With a little ingenuity and some luck, that beautiful treasure holder is now in my dining room.
I spent the evening unpacking glassware, vases, Depression glass, leaves and acorns my boy gave me when he was five, and gifts from my momma.
They’ve been packed up in tubs for four years, too.
My 22 day miracles and gratitude challenge ended yesterday. It was a bit all over the place, emotion wise. Loss does that. It seems to step in, sometimes, on a perfectly sunny day, scooting over on the bench next to us.
For a couple of months, I’ve actually felt kind of bad for ‘subjecting’ readers to my going on and on about how badly I miss my momma. “Who still wants to hear about this?” I thought.
I mean, it’s been 6-7 months, shouldn’t the grief be all tidied up by now? Swept up and let go like dust on the wind?
I’m not trying to rush myself through parent loss by any means. I’m trying to survive it and get through it with baby steps and grace. But, I kept thinking about the sharing it part…
Then, about a week ago, while on social media, I did a grief search. Turns out there are tons of pages about loss and grief with thousands and thousands of followers. It reaffirmed that talking about losing my momma is ok.
Does it help me? Yes.
Could it help someone else? Maybe.
My cousin sent me a poem called, “Don’t Miss Me More Than Once A Day,” by Donna Ashworth. It’s a wonderful poem and I was instantly hooked on her writing.
The author has a FB page and lately she’s been sharing about mother loss. Talk about resonating. It seems like when someone gets it, they get it.
Anyway, what I’m learning is, this loss isn’t just some separate thing I can just shut off and send down the road. This experience is part of who I am now. Has it changed me? Oh my, yes. Have I figured out all the ways yet? No, not really.
I’m still getting through the “I can’t believes”, “I miss…”, and “what in the world happeneds.” It’s like when you drop a photo album with a thousand pictures in it and they all fall out in heaps on the floor. It’s the sifting and putting them back in some sort of order, but there’s no sense to where they go.
Maybe, eventually, I’ll get this all figured out. Maybe I won’t. What I’m realizing now, 7 months into this, is that talking about it or sharing this is appropriate whenever it comes up. People went before me in mom loss and people will come after me, too. We can all learn something from each other, I bet.
Instead of a daily challenge now, I’m just going to write and share adventures. Even if and when those adventures are about my beautiful momma.
Somehow I’ve made it seven months without my momma. I have gratitude for my faith, my family, and my friends. And, the miracle is and was my momma.
I wrote a poem today. I don’t write poems often, but it feels right today.
“How I Miss Her So” by Jessica Adam
Seven months ago today
I spent the day with my momma
Twelve whole hours with her
Time since then
has been like a magician’s hat,
some days disappearing monumentally fast,
some days so still they
The shock of loss is still intense,
appropriate, I suppose.
I had her for 50 years.
I miss her texts with pictures of her pets,
her asking for pictures of my son,
and her whistle.
She was always whistling.
Can’t believe it’s been seven months
since I held her hand
and kissed her cheek.
My, how I miss her so…
I know I’ve told you a million and one times that parent loss is extremely hard. It shakes the leaves and rattles the roots. The amount of tears that have fallen feel like infinity plus ten, plus a hundred, plus a thousand.
Though not endless.
Yesterday I didn’t cry. Today I am.
I wonder how this will feel seven months from now and seven months after that. The same, I suppose.
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the idea of how quickly she was gone. Or how sick she got so fast. I’m guessing that will never ever ever make sense.
But, my hope is, that by writing this, when I reread it a year or five from now, that I will SEE the strength I had.
Strength is so fleeting in this. Some days it feels nonexistent. Others days, I feel solid enough to listen to other people talk about their losses.
It has truly been a ‘raw, emotional, learning, hard, heartbreaking, sad, love filled, people-have-shown-up-for-me, I can’t believe I’m doing this’ kind of seven months.
If you are going through a loss of your own, as always, my heart goes out to you.
Thanks for being here.
P.S. I just went outside to take these pictures and saw three deer in our freshly cut back field. Miracles.
I’m a sappy mess when I leave my parent’s house. I’ve always been. I’ve cried nearly every time I’ve left their house for, well, most of my life. Wayyyyyy before my momma passed.
For years, they’d stand in the doorway or on the porch, waving and watching as I pulled away and I cried for miles.
This afternoon, my son and I will start making our way south and east. It’s 8 hours up here to my dad’s. We’re going to split the trip and stay overnight half way. Then, home tomorrow for bowling.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my home, too. I don’t mind going home, even. It’s just the leaving here that starts the waterworks.
If you’ve lost one parent, you may understand this need to want to see and be with the other one. It’s such a gift to be here. I thought I’d have my momma 20 more years. As they say, ‘time is not promised.’
For my miracles and gratitude today, I’m going to share my momma’s flowers. She LOVED flowers. All kinds- wildflowers, roses, irises, morning glories, and more.
Miracles and Gratitude Day 8:
I’m grateful for these past few days. There’s miracles all around.
Feel free to share your gratitude and miracles if you’d like. What I’m beginning to see is, the more days I do this, the more miracles show up.
Yesterday, while traveling to my parent’s house, we stopped in a town to do a little shopping.
When we pulled into the parking lot, I spotted a van with a couple of people standing by it. A closer glance revealed that it was a mom and dad and two kids.
My attention was immediately drawn to a sign the dad was holding. I couldn’t read it all, but past experiences seeing signs told me they may have been needing help of some sort.
After we came out of the store and got in our truck, I got a good look at their sign. They were traveling and needed some help with gas, food, and a motel. I found myself opening my wallet….
My momma was a giver. Her heart was bigger than the size of the word generosity itself.
She’d buy overly priced popcorn and baked goods that kid’s clubs were selling. She donated items, gave food to families, gave money where it was needed. She gave.
In her 75 years on this planet, she helped many. Not just people, but animals, too. I can’t even begin to tell you how many sweet, random dogs made their way to our house.
Not a bunch at once, but one here and there. She kept them and they’d become part of the family. One time, several kittens showed up on the back step during the winter.
She nursed them all back to health and kept them until they went on their merry way.
I think watching her give to and help others all my life, rubbed off. I’ve always been a giver, but recently, since losing her, I’ve really had the urge to give.
A couple of weeks ago, about sunset, I went to the grocery store in a town 25 miles from home. When I parked, I saw a KITTEN at the edge of the parking lot by the weeds.
It was alone, no other cats in sight. Strange, I thought. Kittens are usually together. It was black with white feet and about half the size of our kittens.
When I came out, I saw it again. My heart ached. I went to the Dairy Queen next door and ordered some rotisserie chicken. After it cooled, I tore it into tiny bites, and took it to where I saw the kitten.
The kitten wasn’t there, but I put it on the ground, called “here kitty kitty” and got back in my truck. A minute passed and it saw the chicken. Full belly that night.
I went to the same grocery store last week. I was praying that the kitten wouldn’t be there and that it had found a home. Heart crushed again, it was still in the same spot.
I came out of the store all ready to go back to Dairy Queen for more chicken, but I didn’t see the kitten anywhere. Maybe someone took it home? Where was it? I was torn about what to do.
While driving home, I began thinking about that kitten. What if it stepped down into the weeds and I just didn’t see it? What if it was hungry? Should I turn around?
I actually pulled over and thought about if I should go back. That may sound extreme for some kitten in a parking lot, but that’s what we do, you know?
Compassion just shows up where and when it’s needed. Kitten or human or anything else, hungry is hungry.
It was dark and I ultimately, I decided to wait. Logic started kicking in. The kitten had survived a week. I had also talked to a store employee at the checkout who said he had been trying to get the kitten to come to him.
I went on home.
Back to the store parking lot yesterday. I found $10 in my wallet, pulled up near the van and stuck my arm out the window. The mom came over offering all kinds of thank you’s.
I pulled away with tears in my eyes.
My momma was a giver. So am I. No wonder I miss her so much.
A WordPress notification popped up just now. Apparently, it’s my 7 year anniversary on this blog. Whoa, that seems a bit unreal. 7 years?
Back then, I was one of those, “Blog?? Oh no, not me! I’m NEVER going to have a blog! No sir! Ugh uh. Hard pass.”
A sudden week’s worth of hospital days/ mystery illness changed that. In the midst of night time hours, while my family slept, I started this blog.
I was sooooooo nervous. I’d spent a lifetime doing what I love doing- writing and taking photographs, but put them out into the world? Umm, no.
My mom was not onboard. She couldn’t really get her mind around what a blog was or why in the world I thought I needed one. It reminds me of the movie, “Julie and Julia” where Julie’s mom has the same sort of reactions.
I carried forward anyway and mom became one of my top readers. She signed up for email alerts. She got notified and read all my posts.
It didn’t seem to take long for her to understand my sudden urge to blog. She stepped right up and into this blogging adventure.
She stood by me when I had zero WP follows and stuck with me when I had 100.
She’d comment on my posts, a few words here and there about what she learned or liked.
Heck, she’d even welcome me back after I had long dry spells in writing. And, I have had some looooooong dry spells!!!
Last week I considered quitting this blog.
I have been so absolutely torn about HOW to write about loss, carry forward with other writing, and circle back to loss if I need to. It is absolutely exhausting trying to figure out how to write right now.
Being totally open, to a bit vulnerable, then switching to regular stuff, only to need to write more vulnerable stuff?
It’s like a teeter totter that’s lost it’s balance.
“Forget it,” I thought. “This is too hard. No wonder people don’t write about this! I’m quitting!!!!!”
But, teeter totters don’t get up and walk off the playground, so neither will I.
When I started this blog all those years ago, I did it on the premise that if I could help one person, I’d keep on writing.
ONE person. That’s a pretty darn good reason to write.
And, you know what?
I didn’t see this until RIGHT this second, but dang, maybe that one person, for today anyway, is me.