Entries Tagged 'Mothers' ↓

Mother’s Day with the Rays

So… what to do on Mother’s Day. My husband was wondering and I was just shrugging my shoulders at him when I heard from the folks at the Rays. Would we like to attend a Rays game on Mother’s Day?

*Cue high fives all around.*

Um, yes we WOULD!

It’s kind of the perfect idea. Everyone is happy, we all spend time together, some beer is involved, the kids get to run the bases after the game and there are no long waits for a fancy, shmancy over-priced brunch.

Wait. Can we go back to the high fives? Oh, my 9 year old. Going to the Trop literally makes his life. He is beyond pumped for Sunday. He’s been staring down the Rays magnet schedule on the frig.

“Mom, mom, MOM. They need to get through this series with Toronto and then it’s a three day series against the Padres and WE get to see the last game of the series and they have been playing well and Longoria is awesome so I’m thinking it’s a win FOR SURE. Mom. MOM!! Did you hear me? Mom.”

This kid is a freak for baseball. It’s like he was born with this passion.

“Five days until the game, Mom. FIVE days. Mom.”

So, that’s where we’ll be on Sunday. And while my kid is staring down the game, I will be admiring my new Rays flower pot. I’m kind of obsessed with getting one. Isn’t it super cute?

Happy Mother’s Day to all those moms out there who love their kids’ passion for something so much that a day watching them enjoy that passion truly makes your day, too.

The Rays were kind enough to provide my family with four tickets, some food and a parking pass (which we don’t technically need since parking is free for cars with four or more on Sunday anyway). Thank-you, Rays!!

A Birthday Ghost Story

So, I just had a birthday. And I’ve got a story to share about it. It was kind of a “light-bulb” moment with a slight supernatural twist. Maybe. (You be the judge.) But it was an important moment and birthday gift, to be sure.

Rewind to a few mornings ago, on the day of my birthday. I was sitting in my car and I was feeling pretty great. The kids had been dropped off at camp, and I was about to pick up my husband for a day alone together. (I know! THAT’S a gift right there!) I was alive and healthy and my family was healthy. All was well.

So, as I was driving along and kind of settling into the groove of my day, I was suddenly caught entirely off guard. On the 80′s station I was listening to (…yeah, yeah, it was my 39th birthday, so they’re relevant tunes for me…), a Stevie Wonder song came on. NOT one of his best, but one my mother used to love.

And it was as if I could hear her say right there next to me, “Oh, I’ve always loved this song.” So, there I was, sitting at a stoplight and hearing the song “I Just Called To Say I Love You”  for the first time in many, many years. Of all the songs… really…

The intersection I was sitting at was significant, too. It was there when I got a call on my cell from my mom 3 years prior to wish me happy birthday. I remember that detail because I have replayed so many of our interactions during those weeks in July.

About two weeks after that particular birthday, she passed away.

So, if you know me, you know what I thought about that particular song playing on my birthday at that very intersection.

It was like she was in the car with me. Truly.

And, yeah, I was all kinds of out-of-the-blue emotional. I truly went from 100%, totally FINE and jazzed about having a day for me to just chill out and be grateful for my life… to a muddled, weepy mess at a traffic light.

It’s fine, though. That’s how loss goes. Mourning happens out of the blue sometimes. And, after all this time, I’m actually grateful for it because it means she is present in my heart and she is still so very real in many ways.

Anyway, I learned an important lesson in that quick moment. Maybe some of you have realized this before but it took me 39 years and a bad Stevie Wonder song to figure it out…

Your birthday is not your own. It is your mother’s day, too.

Sure, sure, you came into the world that day. Good for you. Toss the confetti. Being alive is certainly a very good thing. But I can bet you all the coins lost deep in my couch cushions that your mother cares more about your birthday–a day she worked so, so damn hard to get you out of her body and breathing and OK–than she does about her own birthday.

I remember the first birthday I had after my first son was born. It felt so stupidly insignificant. THIS child and HIS life was significant. My job was to live for him now, birthday-shmirthday, behold the golden, blessed child!

(Well, ok, so that’s a “new mom” thing. You get all overwhelmed by that new kid, you think you don’t really matter… but you do, of course. Balance. Love yourself, then love another and all that poppycock… I get it. Now.)

Anyway, I may not have cared about my birthday in the weeks after my son was born but I will tell you who did… my mother. My guess is that, all those years ago, she probably didn’t express it very well. I don’t know how that call went that day, but we had a lifetime of issues we never really made peace with. It’s likely that we may have only talked briefly.

It doesn’t matter. I know she was was thinking of me on that day and all the birthday before and after that. Whatever the baggage, mothers think about their children on their children’s birthdays. Sometimes it’s about the one thing they are even sure of: “I gave birth to someone special on this very day.”

I get it.

Anyway, I had a great birthday. 39, woot!

(And many thanks to my mom for checking in that morning, too.)

 

Stop Speaking For Me

It seems all sorts of folks have been speaking on my behalf about a few things. And I am referring to myself in the general “just your average mom” kind of way. But as a typical, average mom who believes in equality, choice and, well, love (I know, sooooo feminist of me), these folks seem to have me wildly misinterpreted and misrepresented. And that’s not OK.

Let’s start with a group that subtly titles itself “One Million Moms.” (I’m not linking to them because I don’t want to. Go find them for yourself if you wish.) People look at that name, however, and say, “Oh hey, that’s a whole lot of moms! That must be every mom! Let’s hear what all these moms think.” Ok. Well, this group of a “million moms” has recently waged war against JC Penney. Why? Here’s why:

“Recently JC Penney announced that comedian Ellen Degeneres will be the company’s new spokesperson. Funny that JC Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families… By jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon, JC Penney is attempting to gain a new target market and in the process will lose customers with traditional values that have been faithful to them over all these years.”

Wait a second. I’m a traditional family. I mean, I have kids and a mortgage and I want them raised to be nice, lawful people. So, JC Penney is going to LOSE customers with these values because their new spokeswoman is a woman who loves another woman?

Nope. Stop speaking for me.

And stop speaking for so many other moms and bloggers. Thankfully, bloggers and mothers never let things lie. We listen, and share, spread awareness and, most importantly, shop at JC Penney. And we take pictures of our shopping. And spread them all over the internets.

This ragtag collection of one million moms need to check their hate and get the hell off my lawn. My values are about equality and love and I’d like to think those values are pretty damn traditional in a certain “What Would Jesus Do” kind of way.

But wait, there’s more.

I choose to use birth control. Funniest thing, that. If I don’t, I get pregnant. I’ve tried it, twice. So, I know I cannot afford to pull the goalie because we can’t feed more mouths, we need me working and, dammit, I’m getting kind of old for that stuff. Deciding to provide for my family is far more productive than reproduction — but apparently this is questionable.

Oh yes.

One of the current GOP candidates running for President (of the United States, yep, the whole country), Santorum,  has said this:

“One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, ‘Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.’ It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

AND PEOPLE ARE VOTING FOR HIM.

And people are supporting him. Like this bozo, Santorum’s billionaire backer, who actually informed us that:

“Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”

Yep. He said that.

People are bringing Santorum’s views on contraception up, why? Because our President thought that maybe women might need some help affording birth control. You know, since healthcare is kind of expensive? And because poor women are more than 3 times as likely as middle class women to have an unintentional pregnancy due to birth control costs. So, every woman has the same rights as I do to choose NOT to have babies and go back to work, right?

Ask the GOP. They are scratching their heads and aren’t really sure how to respond. And democratic folks on Capitol Hill like Senator Boxer are left reminding us that “This is the 21st Century.” And:

“Ninety-nine percent of women, including 98 percent of Catholic women have used birth control. And 77 percent of Catholic women voters support requiring insurance plans to cover contraception for free.”

What’s the problem here?

Well, did you see what Congressman Issa decided to do today? He called a panel of men (yes, men) to to discuss the possibility that religious views might actually trump women’s health.

Men are talking about this.

Who care more about their gods and fathers than whether or not their wives have the right to choose when they want to have a family. Or go back to work. Or help pick their families up out of the financial hole this country dug us all into.

These guys HAVE to stop speaking for me.

Because none of this is about equality or choice.

And I’m in the middle of my own local school politics war about a potential 4 day school week in my county. An “impartial” task force was formed to discuss the possibility. At last night’s meeting, it seems this group is speaking for me, too. They seem quite ready to neatly — and fairly quietly — nudge this option along and sweep the deficit under the carpet by taking away my children’s school time.

Oh you guys had better stop speaking for me. AND my children.

I’m all kinds of fed up. Because people are speaking for me and treating my values — equality, choice and love — as if they were outrageous, anti-family values, and something that actually needs fixing.

Our political leaders speak for all of us. Because we hired them and we put them there. Write your congressperson, make noise and take this opportunity to speak for yourself before we’re left with a bottle of Bayer aspirin and so many fewer rights than we thought we had in (what century? Oh that’s right, the 21st, thanks Senator) the first place.

It’s Kind Of Like Lactating

I was in the grocery store and I heard a baby cry.

No. I didn’t start to lactate. But something did happen. And it’s something I haven’t been able to shake ever since I’ve had children and I hear a child cry. Maybe you will get what I mean, so I’ll explain. But I don’t think you ever have had to lactate to get it either, either.

So, back to this baby. She started to cry. And it was an “I’m so tired, I need a snuggle and a nap and get me out of this grocery cart” kind of cry. I couldn’t help myself, I oh-so-innocently wheelie-wheeled my cart around the corner and into her aisle… just to see how she was doing.

Her mom was harried. She had a sandwich platter in her cart and soda bottles and paper plates and a bunch of other party stuff she clearly had to get that afternoon. But her daughter wasn’t having it. She was so, so tired. Slumped to the side and crying — no, pleading, really — in a way that made any mother want to find a crib and a dark room and no stim and some sweet peace for that child.

There was nothing I could do about it. It came from somewhere deep beyond my control. My gut hurt for her. My arms ached to scoop her up, snuggle and soothe, and seek out a spot to get her cozy and quiet. My heart went out to the mom, too. I KNOW she wanted those same things for her daughter but, with something going on soon, she had to get that shopping done. My guess is that her daughter’s schedule was shot to hell after a day of errands and running here and there. Hardly anything that will hurt that girl, but my ache to comfort her was STRONG, my friends.

Kind of like lactating.

Let me back up and explain the comparison. Don’t freak, non-lactating types. This is just how it is…

You’ve heard of how women will “let down” when they hear a baby cry. And by “let down” I mean the boob flood-gates suddenly open and a teeny hose-like effect occurs in the general chest region. There is nothing you can do about it, really. It’s just this primal thing that happens when a baby cries or you know a baby is hungry. Mother nature just turns on the faucet.

Of course, this doesn’t happen to me any longer. My faucet dried up (OMG, has it been this long) about 4 years ago. But it used to. And it wasn’t pretty when I wasn’t ready for it. And that’s why God made breast pads. But I digress…

So back to the baby in Publix. She was crying and I felt this ache. Deep down. I wanted to help her. I wanted to take care of her and figure out a way to get her what she needs. It’s almost beyond reason or self-control, it’s just there, built-in, instinctual, just the way I am wired now.

This strange, deep down ache and need to help a crying child was not there before I had my own. Before I would have been all: “Aw. She’s crying… poor mom. Oh, I’m totally watching Melrose Place tonight…”

Not now. Now, I feel a physical pull, a painful ache, a lump at the back of my throat and an empathy like none other for the mom trying to cope and care and do it all.

It’s kind of like lactating. And, dried up or not, I suspect it will feel like this for as long as I’m a mother… which is pretty much forever.

Motherhood, The Musical: My Review

Is motherhood something to be laughed at? Because, you know and I know that there are times when mothers completely lose their sense of humor. Poof, gone, lost, for a very long time. At 4am with a screaming — or giggling, wide-awake — baby. At 5pm, the witching hour, when dinner isn’t ready yet and you’re ankle deep in toddler tantrums. At the grocery store when you can’t seem to get down an aisle without screaming at your fighting children. Motherhood can be slow, endless, Chinese water torture, threatening to pull you deep, down into stewing pits of parenting despair. I’ll admit that it’s the hardest thing I have ever done.

And that’s why finding any outlet to laugh at parenting is so damn important.

And that’s where “Motherhood, The Musical” comes in.

I was asked to review this musical, now playing at the Straz Center in downtown Tampa, last week. And, since I am sucker for musicals (don’t even get me STARTED on my obsession with “Wicked”) and since I just really like the folks at the Straz, I was 100% down for some funny mom theater. Plus, I’ve seen lots of Facebook statuses raving about the show: “I laughed! I cried!” So, I was excited to check it out.

I rounded up two very deserving moms from my work to come with me and we set out for the Straz after a particularly crazy week at work.

The show was in the Jaeb Theater which is a smaller, cabaret style theater. We found our seats around a small table, surrounded by (no surprise here) many other mothers gathered for the show. The space was intimate — which meant a comfortable, more connected experience. I was impressed right away as the theater staff began the evening by reaching out to pregnant moms in the audience. They also sold pins with the profits going to autism research. And they even had cute “Motherhood, The Musical” postcards on the table which we could fill out and they would send for us if we dropped it in a mailbox in the lobby. (I sent one to my mother-in-law.) I have to say, the people who work at the Straz are just nice. They smile, they ask you how you are, they take pictures for you, they just make the whole vibe comfortable and welcoming. And, being a theater dork from way back, I think that really helps set the vibe for the show itself – so “cheers” to them…

Now, what did I think of the show itself? It was really great. Truly. But let me start with a couple negatives first.

Admittedly, they touched on a few cliches. You know, “we’re not gonna take cooking and cleaning anymore”  kind of thing. The naive pregnant mom, and the “knowing”, jaded other mothers hell bent on scaring the crap out of her. Mini-vans, grocery shopping, and husbands that have very little to do with parenting at all.

However. They took these typical motherhood cliches (which are only cliches because they are common experiences, by the way) and turned them into gut-busting, musical hilarity. The women who played the four mothers in the show were FANTASTIC. I kind of want to be friends with the divorced mom and the working mom. No, really. I want to have drinks with them because they have to be that awesome in real-life. (Hey ladies, email me! I can try to be awesome too!)

Also, the lyrics and the music in the show are both excellent. The lyrics are very well written, just FUNNY. Cliche or not, the mini-van song was hysterical. They took the sagging and leaking experiences of so many mothers and made anthems out of them. Even the “no more cooking and cleaning” thing was awesome. They rocked out. And I laughed. A lot.

And so did the women around us. Seriously. Women were howling, and stomping the floor, and standing, and cheering. Clearly, this show connected with the majority of the audience.

I also cried a little. No, I did. The song about “Every Other Weekend” in which the divorced mom sang about what it is like to be alone every other weekend. And how the kids come home spoiled by their fathers and she has to be the bad guy, and how she manages… well. I totally boo-hooed and said a little thankful prayer that I don’t have to experience weekends like those.

I don’t think this is a show for the majority of husbands. (Maybe some, but certainly not mine. His eye-rolling would have annoyed the hell out of me.) And, I don’t think this is a show for women who have no interest in parenting yet. I know one woman who saw it, but who isn’t anywhere near ready for children, and she said it “scared the crap out of her”. That said, bring your mother. Bring your mom friends. Bring your pregnant daughter. Bring the moms at work and the moms on your block and the teachers of your children. I suspect they will love it.

Also, if you’re going to get hung up the cliches and parenting generalizations, just check those at the door. Relax. Have fun. Let yourself laugh. Don’t take it too seriously. This isn’t supposed to be heavy stuff or some wildly prophetic social commentary. Its fun, and very funny. And it’s obviously something many, many, MANY mothers just “get”.

Cheers to the Straz and the awesome actors who rock that show out night after night (I kind of want your life). You did a fantastic job. Thanks for reminding me to laugh at this mothering stuff and then leave me ready to get back home and hug my boys super tight. Laughing like I did that night made me take a step back, accept the good and the ugly of this motherhood thing, and simply appreciate it so much more.

Want to go see it now? Get $29 tickets to see “Motherhood, The Musical” at the Straz Center through August 28th. Use promo code TIX29. The offer ends August 12th, though!  Restrictions and charges apply.

 

Two Years

Somehow it has been two years.

So I wait. For something to hit. And it doesn’t. Or, at least, it hasn’t yet. And maybe it finally just won’t.

Of course something hit last year. Something hit her house, actually. I had asked for a sign. I got one.

But this year, things feel quiet. Two years is a long time. Two years is nothing at all. It doesn’t hurt less, but I’m just very used to having her death right there besides me. This is now normal.

Sometimes, I swear she is standing behind me at work or in the hallway at home, just around the corner. Don’t laugh. I know I have an active imagination, she always said I did. But there is something in the corner of my eye, a sound. I turn, it’s nothing. Shrug. Who knows.

Sometimes, I can hear her voice so exactly in my head that she may as well be speaking right to me. I hear her and I laugh and I think, “Ok, that’s exactly what you would say about that.” I suppose I know her very well. I suppose you can think up any person’s response to an issue if you think hard enough about it. But I suppose it’s a way to keep her here.

Sometimes, she is in my dreams. Maybe 20 years younger than she was when she passed. She is very calm and confident and into some busy project or another. Very much the “mom in charge” that I remember when she was well and strong. Sometimes, in my dreams, I tell her I am so relieved she IS alive and all is well. What a bad dream that must have been. She looks at me like I’m being dramatic again. That OF COURSE she’s fine. She doesn’t offer comfort or affection but her steady “Oh Caroline” is reassuring. I’m relieved and calmed and not upset any longer. Sometimes, I dream that she’s here and she never left, there was never any death at all. And she’s still annoying me as much as she ever was.

Whether my imagination is hard at work filling in this impossible void left in my world, or whether there is something more to it, she isn’t really gone for me. And I am getting used to having her there in a very different way. It’s never enough, but is your mother ever there for you enough, really?

I love this picture of my mother. This is how she was before she passed. Hardly glam, always a bit rumpled, but also trying to trap you in a picture that she will never develop or ever look at again. Her way of saying, “I really like being around you but I don’t know how to say that so I am going to harass you until you all huddle together and, strain a smile and say ‘cheese’”.

Her affection was never traditional so why should I expect anything otherwise in her death.

She called me “Carolyn” more often than she called me “Caroline”. She blamed it on her learning disability. She also called me “Carolvin” — a combo of my brother’s name and mine. She also called me “Boopie” and “Caroley” and (this one was a real favorite of mine, as you can imagine) “Spaceshot”. Because I tuned her out a lot.

I tune her out. Maybe still. Or maybe not.

Just trying to piece together our connection as I did in life. And, this year, there seems to be some peace, some resignation, in that.

I hope you have peace, Mom. More than anything else, that’s what I hope for you.

Becoming a Mother of Intention

There was a time when I was a mom home with babies, and all sorts of ideas and thoughts about the world were rolling around in my head. But I had no where to go with these thoughts. No one to share them with. No community for a thinking mom. Just diapers to change and baby vomit to wipe off the floor. And such is parenting. There would be time for thinking later.

Jump ahead to the year 2008. I was a very new blogger. I had just discovered (and started stalking) all sorts of mom bloggers and political bloggers and – gasp – political mom bloggers. One in particular rose to the top. Her name was Joanne, otherwise known online as Pundit Mom. And when she wrote, I just… got it.

That summer fate stepped in and determined my path as a blogger I very randomly won a contest through BlogHer to go to the BlogHer conference in San Francisco. It was my first overnight away from my children and I arrived there wide-eyed and ready to stalk myself some amazing bloggers. I listened intently to Lesbian Dad on a panel and pushed my way to the front to meet her. I fell off my seat laughing, tackled, and forced an introduction on Deb on the Rocks. I cried listening to and (via a couple glasses of wine) jumped in front of Moosh In Indy to tell her that she was so F-ing brave. And then, it happened. The last morning, at breakfast, Pundit Mom happened to sit down at my table. We introduced ourselves. She gave me a pin with her logo on it. Oh. My hero. That conference had officially been made.

Since then I have come to realize the power of the internet and the many super amazing smart women who live there. Pundit Mom and the Momocrats and various writers at BlogHer gave moms like me at home with their babies access to real politics happening in the moment. Before heading onto CNN to debate some topic or another, Joanne would tweet and ask what questions we had for the panel. The Momocrats would ask their readers what questions we had for Hillary Clinton before heading into a press conference. Moms, just like me with no way to be where they were, had access. And a voice.

And, since that morning over a bagel, my friendship with Joanne has grown. More conferences came. More conversations over meals. More shared ideas and ideals. More smart women, both online and off. She had a book she was writing, she said. I was thrilled for her. Could she use one of my blog posts? Oh my goodness, of course.

Honored is not even enough of a word to describe how I felt.

Joanne’s book has recently been published and in it she describes the extraordinarily influential political space women are carving out for themselves through social media, preconceived notions of women and mothering be damned. And she does it with the help of an incredible network of women she calls “Mothers of Intention”. Mothers, like me, who are not official political experts but actually, whoda thunk it, HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY.

This morning I opened up a PDF file from Joanne. It was the final draft of the book. My hard copy was in the mail. And there I was, amoungst these unbelievable women whom I have looked to as my conduit for change and voice and action for years. I am only one voice amongst so so many. But, once again, SHE MADE MY VOICE COUNT.

Do you see what this must mean to me? She changed my perception of motherhood. I, like a crazy woman, thought parenting meant my ideas and ability should be back-burnered. I thought you can’t parent AND think. She switched that all around and made me realize that, as a parent, I had a unique and important perspective. I had the same concerns as many mothers and we should pick them up and put them out there and get them heard, dammit. We are raising this country and that actually matters. She spelled it out quite clearly to me that mothers are kind of a big deal, even way over on Capitol Hill.

So. The book is in the mail. And I’ll be back here, of course, to freak out about it some more when I have resting here next to my laptop. Until then, check it out on Amazon. And, of course, you know… buy it. And maybe find your inner Mother of Intention. She’s in there. I swear she is.

Missing Mother Day

Here we go again. Another Mother’s Day without my mother.

My thoughts about this day haven’t changed much since last year, really. So if you want to know how I feel, go here and skip the rest.

*shrug*

This stuff takes awhile. I know it does. But it’s funny how Mother’s Day is the one that gets me the most. Not Christmas. Not even her birthday. But this day. Tears are right there, hovering just below.

There is so much we never said. So so much she has missed since she passed. So much time and space and memories of just being annoyed with her a lot of the time – and regretting that. But also knowing she deserved it sometimes too. And then being frustrated with her for not expressing herself better and really knowing how to reach everyone she loved.

I miss her. And they miss her. And it’s just one damn big hole left behind on days like these.

I try to redirect my feelings, of course.

We should be celebrating every mother and all that they do. And I’m a mom. So. Yay. And this day is for my children to remember their mother, so I am here to hand out love and hugs and so many “thank yous” as needed for sure.

But Mother’s Day is still MY mother’s day. And without her around, well, let’s just get through this day I think…

My mother is a poem
I’ll never be able to write,
though everything I write
is a poem to my mother.
~Sharon Doubiago

More Than Her Things

Three closets in this house were crammed — hangers poking out, bits of dry-cleaning plastic, colors, pants legs, sleeves – utterly CRAMMED full of her clothes.

Silk camel colored blouses, peter pan collars, stripes. Lined wool plaid knee length skirts. Brown hand bags. Brown wide-heeled shoes. So many scarves.

Jingling her keys, pushing open the door, home from work with grocery bags, finding me in front of afternoon cartoons, still in my school uniform. Had I done the dishes. Had I done my homework. Could I bring those things on the stairs up to my room. Eyeroll. Fine.

Knit hats, far too large, practical, shapeless jackets. Mismatched gloves. Scarves my grandmother knitted decades before. Snow boots she and I shared.

Walks in Rock Creek Park with our dog. Gray tree trunks, branches reaching to the sky, hills, valleys, brown leaves carpeting the pathway. Our black lab panting at her side. Her confident commands, “Konak, sit. Heel!” We would run ahead.

Thai raw silk shifts, carefully tailored into the memory of my mother’s 25 year old shape. Turquoise, mustard yellow, lime green. Zips up the back. Cool, scratchy lining. Glittery gold shoes. Gloves. Musty, ancient, exquisite.

Clomping around, admiring myself in her bedroom mirror. My mother wistful, wondering when I would be old enough to wear them myself. Those would be mine someday.

Purple turtle necks and worn, colorful Cape Cod sweatshirts. Old light blue faded Levis and white, basic Nike sneakers.

Whale watches out of Provincetown, walking along the  pier with my grandparents, wind whipping, boats lolling, chatting, never rushing and relaxed. She was the young parent, I was the child.

All of it has been crammed into black plastic bags. All of it. Well, except for a few items we declared “archival” – like the raw silk shifts and her wedding outfit.

(And the black, suede, “Farrah Faucet” style pantsuit that I could barely squish myself into. The very same pantsuit that, when dragged downstairs on its hangar still, my Dad admitted how “hot” my mom was when she wore it. Ew. Ok, so sure that’s kind of sweet but still… ew.)

But the rest is stuffed away, ready to go. And be gone.

She was more than her things. I know this. But I have had to push back that sense that I am removing my mother out of this house. I have had to remain rational while an emotional voice pleads,”Yes, but these aren’t yours, they are hers and they belong in her house.”

No. It’s been a year and a half. My father needs the space. Life is moving forward. Her clothes are just clothes. Whatever we have left of her is still here. Crammed closets won’t make her come back.

So. It’s time.

Her office is next. Oh and her purse which strangely enough still hasn’t been touched after all this time. A new pack of cigarettes is still in there, receipts from the days before she passed, this and that and I’m not sure what else because it’s a bit much to look too closely at.

Still, that’s next too. Because it’s time.

 But while I sort and sift and laugh and remember and train an objective eye over all of it, I’m wearing something of hers. I found some of her slippers. Ugly purple, with little bows and faux wool lining… sure. But they are comfort and hers and for that small, ever-present feeling - I am grateful.

The Loss of Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards died today.

And I’ve been caught off guard by how deeply her death has moved me.

Maybe it’s because she was a mother. And after being diagnosed with breast cancer so many years ago, she had to face the knowledge that she could be leaving her children motherless. Which, of course, is every mother’s nightmare. She must have lain awake nights wondering if anyone would know her children the same way, understand them, help them, and love them quite as much.

Maybe it’s because my heart is breaking for her children. I don’t care how “prepared” they were for this, they are without their mother now, days before the holidays. They will be affected by her death forever. They will be rocked to their core. Their loss is immeasurable.

But I also think it is because the world lost a really good one. A woman who genuinely seemed to affect those around her in a positive, constructive, selfless way. She was scary smart and politically savvy. She stood as an example, spoke from her heart and, through all of her trials, remained strong, honest and resilient.

She should not have been so graceful. Not when she lost her son. Not when the cancer returned. Not when her husband left her side.

Still. She would regroup and stand back up again.

Over her 61 years, she took what was handed to her and she DID something. Her voice was important. Her example changed lives. Her work made a difference. Her mind reworked policy but her heart made people listen and put it all into motion.

She was a mother who affected real change in this country.

She was the kind of woman I could only hope to be.

My heart is heavy this evening. Peace, healing and love to those mourning her life tonight and in the years ahead.