Switchbacks and Waves

This blog was started in 2015. Mostly its been filled with some nature photographs, some lessons on acquired wisdom, and things about family.

Lately, my writing feels somewhat scattered. A post on this, a post on that, then bam, a post about my momma.

What I am figuring out is, grief is not linear.

It doesn’t start on such and such day then make a straight line to an end date. Mine, anyway, feels like more of a zig zag or perhaps like some winding mountain road. Calm on the straight aways, yet intense on the curves.

Another thing I’m learning is, the path of losing someone isn’t all encompassing. Sure, in the beginning it can feel like that. It did for me. At that time, every passing moment was a reminder that my momma wasn’t here.

Now though, instead of grief being a constant aching, it comes more sporadically. One moment fine, the next moment tears. Two days fine, the next one tears. Like waves.

Oh my gosh, waves. For weeks I’ve been trying to remember a song my momma loved. It just now came to me: ”Wave on Wave” by Pat Green.

Now that I think about it, mountain roads and waves have something in common: they go back and forth. They have this beauty and calmness that seem to balance out even after rockslides and storms.

Maybe life is similar. Maybe writing is, too. Maybe instead of me thinking my words have to be all organized into a certain category, I could just let them show up, whenever and however they do.

My back field is full of thorns, stickers, and stumps. Some spots are a mess to walk through. Sometimes my skirt gets snagged and my ankles get scratched. Hmm… that sounds a bit like grief.

But, you know what? My back field is also full of wildflowers and there’s a doe and her baby living back there, even in all those stickers and even in all those weeds.

Perhaps me writing all this on a random Sunday morning is a reminder that the beauty in my writing will prevail, even if the subject matter is out of order and things feel messy.

And, maybe it’s even a reminder, that there can be a beautiful-ness in grief, too. Not on the wind raging, hail filled days, of course, but maybe in the quiet, “a memory brings a smile days.”

What I’m going to do is just trust my writing. Scattered posts or not. I see now that the switchbacks can allow for some amazing scenery and the waves can bring solace.

Thank you for being here.

Jessica

some curvy Forest Service road
a blurry wildflower from my land
and CoCo the kitten
Queen Anne’s Lace standing out
among the stickers and thorns

Sometimes It’s Jewelry

Jewelry is kind of generational thing for me. My grandma was in a ’jewelry of the month’ club. I thought that was cool, so a couple of years ago for Christmas, I signed my momma up for a ’bracelet of the month’ club.

Oh my goodness, did my momma love jewelry. She had stands full of gorgeous necklaces and bracelets and jewelry boxes filled to the brim with beautiful pieces.

If you’ve seen my other blog, you know that jewelry is pretty much my thing. Her love of it was for wearing. Mine is of taking it apart and making something unique with it. Though I do love wearing it, too.

When she was in the hospital in Lincoln, we stopped by a shop on our way there. I purchased four green agate bracelets with a star that were titled, ”Unexpected Miracles” and three rose quartz bracelets representing love.

I split them between my momma, me, my sisters, and my nieces. My momma and I got the miracle ones.

We were comforted by the thought of miracles, in a day filled with crappy possible diagnoses and an up in the air future. She put her “Unexpected Miracles” bracelet on and I did, too.

Things did not go as any of us had hoped and prayed for. And, in the days immediately following her passing, that miracles bracelet was practically glued to my wrist. I wouldn’t take it off.

A few days went by and I started looking online to see if there was such a thing as a bracelet for grief. Luckily, something perfect for me showed up. I want to share it with you today in case you or someone you know has grief hanging out by the garden gate.

When I found the shop, I ordered right away. The one I chose is called The Healing Grief Mala bracelet, and I tell you what, it has been a blessing in ways I can’t quite explain.

The colors are very calming and the stones and wood each have specific meaning. I wore it for a solid month, every single day.

The Healing Grief mala from The Meaningful Mala

I ordered one for my sisters. Another loved one was struggling, so I handed her mine. Then, I ordered another one for me.

The grief has eased up a bit most days, they say the shock lessens some, and I’m finding out that is true. I haven’t been wearing my grief bracelet like I did in the beginning.

On the tough days, though, when tears suddenly roll, I reach for it and put it on. I’ve been wearing it a lot this week.

It’s funny, the different things that bring us comfort in the days of loss. Sometimes it’s flowers or seeing an item they loved. Sometimes it’s a song or a picture. Sometimes it’s a card they sent or a message they left. And, sometimes, it’s jewelry.

Her shop is called The Meaningful Mala and the link is:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheMeaningfulMala

(There’s no commission for me- I’m just sharing to share.)

Hope your day is lovely,

Jessica

Missing My Momma

I’m making art today and the tears stream.

If you knew my momma, you know what a creative person she was.

There wasn’t any kind of art or craft she wouldn’t/ didn’t try. And, she nailed them all. Painting, sewing, gardening, jewelry making, crotchet, the list is long.

Yesterday was the three month mark of her passing, it’s still hard to believe that she did. I’m guessing if you’ve lost your momma, you think of her every single day, too.

Last week was pretty weepy- every song I heard was something she loved. James Taylor and the like. Today, as I am making a sweet piece of art for a friend, it’s Fleetwood Mac’s ’Gypsy’ that started the memory wave.

Parts of my life have been hard. I went through some rough stuff here and there, but nothing compares to the missing of my momma.

If she was still here and I wrote a post about how I was missing somebody else, she’d write a short, sweet comment and write, ”Love, Mom.” She was generous like that.

Thanks for reading.

Jessica ❤️

some rose in MO

18 Things to Help Someone During Loss

They say time heals. I find myself agreeing with that on some levels. Parts of losing my momma do seem a little better than they were initially.

While I am sure that time itself has had a hand in that, my heart tells me that the kindnesses people have shown have also made a huge impact. I mean, when we feel supported, sometimes we are reminded of our capacity to keep on walking through hard things.

I got to thinking about the ways people have shown their support through my family’s loss and came up with eighteen things that have been monumental.

Because, honestly, loss is hard and sometimes we have no idea what to do for somebody. Before I lost my own mom, I remember trying to put myself in my friends’ shoes when they lost their moms. I tried to support them and be there for them, but never really knew what to do.

Now that I have some insight, I thought I’d share in case you are looking for ways to help someone you know.

  1. Plastic silverware- believe it or not, was such a gift in the days before the services. We had many family members staying in one house and a friend brought a big container of it and oh my gosh, it was fabulous not to have to mess with having to wash silverware
  2. Show up- in whatever capacity you can, whether that is in person, phone calls, email, texts. People reaching out has been extremely helpful.
  3. Take food- the old fashioned thing to do used to be to take meals to the family. I’m not sure that happens a lot anymore, but I can say we were so thankful for the casseroles, cookies, soups, and desserts people brought.
  4. Send flowers to the services- the services are flat out hard. Even the anticipation of having to GO to my momma’s service was unsettling. However, seeing all the flowers there! Oh my!! And, reading the cards accompanying them was so uplifting. Several of my friends sent flowers and I’ll never forget it.
  5. Send a card- my parents were just shy of being married fifty five years and I am telling you what, people sent sympathy cards in the mail. My dad would go to the mailbox every day for weeks and it was full of cards. Super comforting.
  6. Comment- whether on a blog or text or social media, if someone is writing about their loss, showing support through commenting is huge.
  7. Sending thoughts/prayers- sometimes our friends and loved ones live far away. When friends and family couldn’t make it to the services, hearing them say ”thinking of you” was immensely helpful.
  8. Stop by- two days after mon passed, friends and family came to the house. Some brought veggie trays, muffins, brownies, fruit, etc. All sat at the kitchen table and visited a while. That meant a lot to all of us.
  9. Wind chimes- seriously, wind chimes are an amazing gift. My cousins gave dad some and a couple of my friends gave me some. Their songs when the wind blows remind us of the love and care given with them.
  10. Find cards to send for the first holidays after the loss- especially Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. I actually found an amazing seller on Etsy who makes cards for Mother’s Day without your mom. She was soooooo sweet. Those were the hardest cards I have EVER had to buy, but I wanted to send cards to my siblings and dad. She even changed them a bit to fit our situation. When she told me she was going to gift me two cards, I cried for two hours afterwards because I was so touched by her kind gesture. Her shop is http://www.cardandstory.com if you’d like to look.
  11. Suggest books- when I don’t know how to do something, I read about it. I had zero idea how to do mom loss, so in the first two weeks, I found two books that helped me a lot. They are: “Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mom Died: Coping With Loss Every Day” by Ty Alexander and “Healing After the Loss of Your Mother: A Grief & Comfort Manual” by Elaine Mallon. When someone is ready, books can help a lot.
  12. Ask what they need- granted, most won’t know what they need. However, when a friend asked me, I told her a meal would be great. She came with grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, and cookies.
  13. Ask something specific about what they might need- before I went through mom loss, I always asked more generally, ’Is there anything you need?’ Now though, I’m going to change that to ’please tell me two things (or three or ten) you need.’ ’Anything’ means having to come up with well, anything. Two things is doable.
  14. Support the kids- when my friend asked what she could do, I asked if her kids could make my son some cards. He lost his grandma. She brought him the sweetest homemade cards.
  15. Support the spouses- my husband knew mom for 27 years. His loss was huge, too. When he shared mom’s service information on his social media page, condolences specifically for him poured in. His work sent a plant which also showed their support for him.
  16. Keep checking in- things get quiet as weeks pass by. The world is busy and it can feel like people forget, so checking in is especially nice. I have a friend that texts me a hug type gif about once a week. A couple other friends text me to see how I’m doing. My cousins check in, too.
  17. Support the best friend- my mom’s best friend lost my momma, too. It’s important to remember the family AND the best friends.
  18. Attend the services- we had two services for my momma. A visitation five days after she passed and a life celebration a few weeks later. Total, about 450 people came. I cannot tell you how much it meant to see all those people. Even members of my high school class came. Plus, some people even drove over three hours one way to see us for an hour! That will never be forgotten.

Wow!! That’s quite a list. No wonder we have felt so loved and supported during this.

If you have ideas or suggestions on how you support someone during loss, please feel free to comment.

Thanks for much for reading. Hope you have a wonderful day.

Jessica

flowers a friend sent for mom’s life celebration

Yellow Flowers and a Yellow Dress

Long lasting marriages are something I’ve grown up seeing. One set of my grandparents were married 52 years, when my grandma passed. The other set was married 73 years when my grandpa passed away.

That is quite a legacy. Almost 2 lifetimes in the number of years alone.

If you’ve read my posts lately, you know I recently lost my momma. My parents were married just shy of 55 years, when she passed.

Today my husband and I are celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary. We were married on an Ozark mountain top and there were yellow flowers everywhere. It was absolutely beautiful. Mom was my maid of honor and she wore a yellow dress.

When I considered the first year of ‘hard firsts’ without my momma, I never considered our anniversary as being one of them. I think it is though, because I sure am missing her today.

I thought I’d share some wedding pictures from that day with you, just because.

Thank you for reading. Hope you have a great Sunday.

Jessica

me- 23 years ago today
my husband and my mom
veil adjustment by mom
my nephew who is now 23
yellow flowers yellow dress

A Wildflower Birthday Without Mom

On this day, in 1946, my momma was born in an old farmhouse in rural Iowa. Oh how I wish she was here to celebrate this day, but life has taken us on an unplanned, unwanted journey.

You see, unexpectedly, she passed away at the end of March. April brought my parent’s 55th wedding anniversary and Easter. May brings Mother’s Day and her birthday.

For a week, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do a birthday without somebody. She had me when she was 21, so there’s been many years of gift making, card buying, and such for me. Her loss brings all those traditions to a halt.

So, here it is, THE day.

What I’ve decided to do is plant wildflowers. I picked out a place in my yard that’s not a ‘front and center stage’, but more of a ’come and sit for a bit.’ It’ll get plenty of sun and moonlight. Oh, how my momma loved the moon.

The lines are blurred about who started our love for wildflowers first. Years ago, I remember pointing out all types of them on the roadways when we traveled. Perhaps I sparked an interest for her, but it could’ve been the other way as well.

She grew wildflowers in her yard and would show them to me every summer. My, how she loved them. Seeds to colored brilliance is a miracle in itself.

For her services, I made wildflower seed envelopes for people to take. The sign I made read, ”She loved flowers. Let’s plant some.” Love the idea of people growing flowers to think of her, too.

My back pasture is in it’s gorgeous summer bloom. Daisies, wild roses, and more adorn my walking path. What a joy to see them there, especially today.

If there’s such a thing as heavenly birthdays, I hope today is a big celebration there. My family and I surely do miss her.

Here’s to wildflowers and birthdays. Time for me to go plant some!

Hope you have a lovely day,

Jessica

morning dew
I’m going to plant inside the fence
wild roses
some pretty flowers
her favorite color was yellow
my helper- mom loved cats