Ever since my momma passed, I’ve been contemplating writing a book . I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tossed the idea around and I still can’t quite decide…
I seem to have a “have to know how to do things” kind of mindset. If I don’t know how to do something, I read.
In the first few days following her passing, I started looking for books on momma loss. I read two immediately and I did like them, but they weren’t exactly what I needed. Right then is when I started thinking about writing a book.
Some days, I’m like, “Yes!!! I’m going to do it.”
Other days, not quite so much.
The back and forth of it is:
it would be the shortest book e v e r because the only chapter in it would be called “Too Hard”
or, it would be really great- the exact thing I needed/need and be absolutely soul lifting, but no one would want to read it because who wants to read about loss
Although, on the other hand, maybe it could help someone, like me, who had their momma/ loved one rug pulled out from under them…
That part always keeps me leaning towards doing it.
These last 375 days, I have learned a bunch about kindness, compassion, crying anywhere, things that help, showing up, lonely days, songs, Tuesdays, gifts to give, gifts received, support systems, and writing, during some messy hard days.
I tried to imagine if I had a friend in momma loss who was talking about writing a book about such things, would I read it?
Well, yes because it’s a friend and it’s good to read friends books.
Would I read it if I still had my momma? I probably wouldn’t have before I lost her. I mean, momma loss was not on my mind.
Would I read it after I lost my momma? Every day of the week.
If you’ve been around here awhile, you may know that I’m a “go with my heart” type of writer. My friend SanDee and I always talk about how my heart is on my sleeve. It got me thinking that this could be one of those times that heartfelt writing could maybe help somebody out.
In 2018 I wrote a post I truly love called Divine. It was about how sometimes we pick up ‘baggage’ through life that may get carried around for years without even realizing it. It’s one of the best pieces I’ve ever written.
In it, I talked about how sometimes stuff begins to accumulate on us / around us that we take on, as our own, even though it was never really ours.
I talked of what an imaginary suitcase at my feet in my 20’s would have held. It was a hodgepodge of negative remarks and things. The kind of stuff that feeds self doubt and low self worth.
Then, I talked about yanking all of those things out- how freeing it felt to let go of all that old junk that had been hanging around for twenty some years.
After dumping things like:
not good enough
no self esteem whatsoever
scars, bruises, and sadness
I replaced them with things like:
a good friend
works for God
sweet, kind, and funny
Yesterday, I wrote two posts and, honestly, I wasn’t sure footed in either one. At some point in the afternoon, I found myself rereading Divine. It was then that I remembered how freeing it is letting go of the old and welcoming the true.
Oh my goodness! That post hit home!
I forgot how easy it is to strap on words we pick up along the way. The Shoulda, Coulda, Wouldas. The ‘hurry ups’ and ‘too slows.’ Words that seem to stick and get piled and become SO integrated that we don’t even know how to start looking for them.
That can equal some heavy loads!
So, this morning, I decided to peek into the imaginary suitcase that was at my feet five years ago.
What would I find, a year into momma loss? Would it be as bad as the one in my twenties?
I mean, come on! Parent loss is h a r d.
Slowly lifting the imaginary lid, I saw a smidgen of self doubt, but not enough to break the scales. Also, there was this overflowing love that felt like a waterfall. Hmm… promising.
I also saw:
strength of a thousand trees, though sometimes I forget
patches of sorrow and joy
more lessons learned
still sweet, still funny, still kind
still loving, still giving, still a good friend
a huge, gigantic, all encompassing heart
weathered from parent loss, but not broken
worn down from the stages of grief, but still holding steady
a caring sister, a great daughter, a passionate mother, a my-heart-is-in-it wife
a teacher, a learner, a try to make things better-er
peace and love and happiness bulging at the seams
sadness and missing and trying to understand loss and what happened and how we got to this point- intertwined with everything while trying to find balance and grace
Pretty good, considering all of the things of the past year.
Sometimes it seems like life is a series of
taking what we’re given
picking out what really resonates for us
growing from there
Such a gift in that.
Here’s a link to Divine. My momma loved that piece, too.
I knew March would be tricky, hard, and emotional, so I haven’t written anything, scheduled anything new, or added any new stressors.
I knew March would make things even more real. It would state the obvious. It would trample on hearts already worn down by twelve months of missing.
Two days ago marked the one year date that I last spoke to my momma. Her few words before I left the hospital that night.
Tomorrow marks the one year date that things were on the upswing. A plan for healing was being put in place. Hope returned to the table. We were more optimistic.
That very same day, when tiny glimpses of sunshine and rainbows and ‘we’re figuring this out’ strolled back in, there was a setback… a setback that flipped worlds inside out and upside down and not just mine.
I quit writing. After being SO OPEN about what momma loss is like, I clammed up. I lost my sense of direction with words and where to go with them.
Transparency, while standing hip deep in parent loss, got me some unwanted remarks and advice I didn’t ask for.
It shut me down, I quit writing.
I’m making art today, listening to music, and with wet cheeks, I’m missing my momma. This weekend marks the one year date we lost her. I shake my head wondering how three hundred and sixty five days went by already. Time in parent loss is a mysterious thing.
Suddenly I had a little tweak of interest in writing again. Like, right now. So, I’m going with it. If you’ve been down this parent loss road, you may understand all this. If you haven’t, I’ll pray for you when you do. There are no words to wrap around an entire year of missing someone.
Nine Christmas Eve’s ago, my cousin’s mom suddenly passed away, leaving us all shocked and devastated. In the nine years since, I have paid attention to how she has navigated the loss of her beloved momma.
Although I didn’t quite understand her loss, I tried to be there for her. One thing that I noticed was that she didn’t stuff the loss down to deal with it later. In my eyes, she bravely stepped right into the loss of “holy sh*t, I’ve lost my mom, what am I going to do?”
I don’t know about you, but when a friend or relative loses their mom/ parent, I pay attention. There are lessons that live in someone else’s experiences. I hadn’t been IN her shoes, but when she talked about her days that came with her loss, I listened.
I still do.
A couple weeks ago, she said something monumental to me. It was about her view of grief. She’s nine years in, to mom loss.
I’m nine months in.
Her words were soothing and healing, instantly.
I’ve tried to write about it for two weeks. I’ve typed, backspaced, typed, backspaced. Words jumbled up. Couldn’t get them out in the way that I wanted.
Well, not everyone understands the roads we are on.
Some do. But, everyone?
No, not really.
Writing about loss and vulnerability is sooooooooooo hard. It’s somewhat edgy. Talk about it a little and it’s acceptable. Talk about it a lot and it’s ‘you’re grieving too much.’
Vulnerability is like a coat that nobody wants to put on. A hundred and fifty degrees below zero and there’s a coat of vulnerability laying there? Forget it, I’ll freeze.
With vulnerabilities come shame. Being nine months into mom/parent loss, I can see why people don’t talk about losses.
Grief isn’t discussed much. Sure, people throw out lines of “take your time”, “everyone grieves in their own way”, “deal with it however you need to’ while at the same moment, there seems to be an invisible time limit on when someone’s grief is enough and they should just move on or that there’s some particular way to get through it.
Twice this week, I’ve felt judged about my mom loss. That I’m not doing it right or I’m taking too long. If I just move on, my holidays won’t be hard.
Grief with stipulations…
Writing about the last nine months has been a gift, a privilege, and a heartache all at once. I write because I know that I am not the only one dealing with loss.
My hope is that if someone somewhere reads my words, that maybe they’ll find a smidgen of comfort or something that makes them feel a tiny bit better.
Loss with stipulations?
It does not work for someone like me, who is in it.
Stipulations only add to an already overflowing plate.
And, hey, I get it.
People mean well. Nobody wants anybody to be sad. I’ve said similar things to people myself to try to help them feel better fast.
Now I see that it really doesn’t work. It probably just pushed them away…
Yesterday, I cried most of the day over feeling like my grief is taking too long and that I’m not doing it right,
Most. Of. The. Day.
It was prompted by the phrase: ‘ohhhhhhh, you’re not doing very well, are you?’
Very well compared to what? That started kicking up self doubt like you wouldn’t believe.
What I’m getting at here, is that being open about how momma loss feels is super tricky. Do I have to talk about it? Not really. Would grieving quietly be better? Safer? Perhaps.
Hmm… trade vulnerability for quiet healing?
Maybe I should…
On the other hand, look at this space that sharing my journey has created here!!!
It includes things like:
being able to share similar stories
real honest to goodness compassion showing up
a place to talk about sad days, sudden tears, and hard moments
connecting to others who are in loss too
learning from each other
stumbling around in how to write after being so open
being transparent and being met with kindness and support
opening doors to conversations about parent loss
peeling off layers of crusted up, protective hearts (including mine) to let some things out and in
tossing old stories of time schedules in grief to the curb
opening the heart for new ideas instead
I think I’ll just stick to what I’ve been doing. Sharing. Because if I cry for a day, I cry for a day. The best I can tell, putting myself out there is making me stronger, too.
Well, there’s about fifteen minutes left of this first birthday without my momma. It was a spotty-teary-day, with the biggest amount that came this morning.
This afternoon, we shopped for bowling shoes. Found a pair and two bowling ball bags, so that was nice. We had our Birthday Bowl-a-thon at two different bowling alleys. It was very fun.
Birthday dinner took us back to the restaurant I wrote about a couple of times in the past several months. One post was about crying at the table. The other was about crying and smiling when a Stevie Nicks song came on while there.
Tonight I did quite well at our table. That is, until an old beloved Christmas hymn came over the speakers.
The part of a song that got me all choked up this time?
“Sleep in heavenly peace.”
Cue the waterworks…
Gratitude of my day of birth:
that I had a momma who loved me
that even though today was hard, I made it
being with my son and husband
hearing from my dad and siblings
getting texts from friends
two delicious meals out in one day
candles, cupcakes, and party decor
nice people who bowled next to us
the five friends who remembered me on social media today
All the nostalgia of Iowa (my momma was born in a farmhouse near Ricketts, Iowa) and the date on the calendar have me thinking about a few things.
It’s now December and my birthday is approaching quickly. Since my momma passed at the end of March 2022, I have been pretty sad over my upcoming birthday.
The day itself has some big meanings.
She and dad were high school sweethearts. After dad graduated, he and his twin brother went to Texas on football scholarships. After she graduated the next year, her and her best friend hopped a bus to Colorado, got apartments, jobs, and stayed.
True love won out. A year later and my parents reunited in Iowa. One time she told me that at that time, they really wanted a baby. They got married and the baby came.
Guess who that was…
In December, the year they were wed, I made my appearance in an Iowa hospital. Mom used to tell the story about my name. They didn’t have a name picked out quite yet. Then, they chose Jessica and a nurse named Jessica thought it was after her.
Is that sweet or what?
Fast forward to my husband and I. Finally, after 5 years of infertility and baby loss, I was able to get and stay pregnant. My miracle baby was born a month early.
You’ll never believe what day it was!
I had been on bedrest for weeks and guess who came to take care of me so my husband could work?
Her and dad were at the hospital when I was almost lost to high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. They sat in the waiting room with my husband, thinking I wasn’t going to make it, while I had an emergency c-section. And, they welcomed our beautiful baby an hour later.
And, do you know what my momma did? She showed up with a gorgeous chocolate birthday cake that the bakery made out to me and baby!
After a week in the hospital because of complications for me, we were finally released. I have never been so happy to go home. When we got there, she had the front porch all decorated up with ‘Welcome Home’ signs and a big teddy bear in the outside rocking chair.
She stayed and took care of us for two weeks. She did the meals, laundry, walked the dogs, and loved on the baby.
She rocked him in the recliner, danced with him to James Taylor in the living room, and even gave him his first bath. They were instantly bonded.
She spoiled us and we saw her during a bunch during the year/ years, but she showed up especially strong on our birthdays.We’d always get a birthday box in the mail from her and dad.
Last year she asked me what was something I needed for the kitchen that he and I could use together. I suggested mixing bowls and measuring cups. A set of beautiful Pioneer Woman mixing bowls and some measuring cups showed up at our door.
So…………….. I’ve been crying and sad for months over a birthday that hasn’t even happened yet because a big part of it is gone: she’s gone.
Her asking is gone. Her sending is gone. Her celebrating is gone. Ouch, that’s a bit hard to handle.
But, you know what?
A few nights I had this huge revelation:
Yes, the days of her sending us gifts are done, but, what if I got us gifts in honor of her? Like what if I picked out something to add to things she’s gotten us?
Because, here’s the thing. Trying to get through mom/ parent loss has a learning curve that you wouldn’t believe. (Unless you’ve been through it.) Mostly, it’s the ‘how’ in figuring out how to go on without them.
First holidays, regular days, birthdays, and just days in general can feel like huge mountains. And, quite honestly, they can feel a bit impossible. Back in March, I never thought I could do my birthday without my momma, but here I am putting one foot in front of the other.
Would my momma want us sad on our upcoming birthday, a day that meant so much to her and us?
She’d want us celebrating.
So, I ordered myself some Pioneer Woman measuring cups and bowls I think she’d like. and we’re also going out of town for the night for something fun to do.
In five days, probably through tears, I am going to celebrate two babies who were wanted so much, me and my son. She may not be here, but she’s definitely going to be in my heart this birthday.
Appreciate you reading.
(I was named Lynn, after my dad’s twin brother. But, they changed my Lyn to one n.)
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.
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.