Last night I had a dream.
I was running late one morning and couldn’t get the boys to school on time, so I asked my mom if she could take them. She happily agreed. I was riding a bike to wherever I was going, and my mom sped by on her own bike. She had the biggest grin on her face; her legs were thrown out to the side and my two little boys were holding onto her, squealing. I laughed as they passed me. Then we were all waiting in line for something and I looked at my mom ahead of me in the line. I watched her beautiful face as she chatted with those around her. She was wearing her favorite blue and white sundress with a silver necklace shining on her neck. Her arm was linked through that of her best friend and my dad stood beside her, watching as she glowed. She caught my eye and we both smiled.
Then somewhere far away I heard a door open and little footsteps as Case came to my bedside and asked me to help re-situate his covers. And that’s when I realized I’d been having a dream. It was the first really clear, vivid dream I’ve had of my mom since she passed away one year ago today.
I never doubt there is a God because my faith has been my lifeline many times, but last night strengthened my faith even further. To have a dream like that on this exact day was truly a gift from heaven.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to blog on this day or not. Even if I felt emotionally capable to write about this sad anniversary, I wasn’t sure what shape the post would take. But as I sit here in the quiet early morning, on August 14, I now have clarity with my words.
I miss my mom. I miss her kindness and generosity, her tender-heart and adventurous spirit. I miss her willingness to do absolutely anything for family. I miss the fierce way she loved the boys. Out of anyone in this world, she seemed most excited and proud when I would call and talk about them.
I miss seeing her and my dad together. Bill and Brenda. They were a couple meant to be together forever. My dad fell in love with her as a teenager then for 53 years, his love only grew stronger. It’s really hard to see him without her by his side.
I am sad she hasn’t been able to watch my little niece, Maddie, grow from a baby into a vibrant, brilliant, gorgeous little girl. I’m sad she’s missing integral moments in my boys’ lives, such as Brooks’s swim success and Case’s first day of kindergarten, among many others.
And frankly, I just miss my mom. As a daughter, a woman, and a mother, I could so use her advice and love.
Last night after I fixed Case’s covers, I went back to my bed and saw it was 5:40 AM. I had my alarm set for 6:00, but I was no longer tired. I reached for my phone and began voice recording this blog post through hot, raw tears. I didn’t want to forget the way the dream made me feel. For the first time in a year, I felt like I was in the same space with my mom. And it wasn’t my sick, weak mom but my healthy, vivacious, funny mom. The mom I want to remember forever.
On this one-year anniversary of her death, I just want to take some time to honor her and to say how grateful I am for the years I had with her. Glennon Doyle wrote, “Grief is love’s souvenir.” I believe this. The harder we loved, the harder we grieve. It’s been a really hard year, harder than I’ve admitted to others, and perhaps even to myself.
But in the face of death and grief, what really can one do but move forward? It feels empty and lonely and dark sometimes, but the only way out is through.
Tomorrow begins year two without my mom. Those who have experienced the death of someone very close say year two is sometimes just as hard as year one. I can see why. In year one, you’re just trying to survive and muddle through. In year two, the stark finality settles in and the new normal without that person is fully realized.
This life we’ve been given is so precious and fleeting. I’m thankful I was very close to my mom throughout my entire life, talking to her multiple times a day and seeing her numerous times a week. She was my biggest advocate and supporter, my confidante and best friend. I’m thankful I inherited her determination and warrior spirit. The very traits she breathed into my being are the ones helping me survive her death.
Mom, I know you’re watching from above. I know because hummingbirds and cardinals, your favorite birds, are always around me. I know because I hear Elvis songs in the most random places. I know because I have dreams like I did last night. I know because I still feel your love. Thank you for being the most amazing mom in the world, even from afar.