When Love Lets Go

20180831_172540It is the season of letting go.

Of hands both small and big. Of summer days and swimming pools. Of green leaves and daffodils.

It begs us to stop and breathe and understand that time is fleeting and life is short.

Just as it did the very last time I heard you speak my name.

The wind was fierce and the cold, bitter, made only more so by the warmth that hit my face as I walked into memory care that day.

I signed in at the front desk and made my way around the corner to find you sitting in your chair. I sat. You smiled. And then you took my hand with yours and drew it up against your sweet face.

I knew your furrowed brow and gaze was a silent, “Sara Bear, your hands are too cold.” But just about the time I thought you would let go, you didn’t.

You held on as we sat through the morning memory games. You held on as I tried to feed you a little soup. You held on as I wheeled you back to your room. 

You held on until I sat down next to you on your bed, when you looked at me and said, “Sara, it’s time to let go now.”

My heart knew this was our goodbye. 

But it was also you teaching me about love and letting go.

That love will hold on in the warmth and light of hello.

20180831_15083820180831_15090720180831_172322

20180831_173329

That love will hold on in the unending chaos of the messy and the mundane.

20180831_17222820180831_17273520180831_17243020180831_174639

That love will hold on as you journey together from room to room, phase to phase, year to year.

20180831_172827

20180831_172706

20180112_11444820180831_174344

And then, when you least expect it, love will ask you to let go.

Of hands both small and big. Of summer days and swimming pools. Of green leaves and daffodils. Of a life you thought would last forever.

Because it was only a season, a moment, a breath.

Wrapped up in a love so steadily etched that when the time comes, your heart will already know to say goodbye.

Life, Love And A Pocketful Of June

20180613_151813

I meant to write so many things.

About life. About love. About laughter.

I meant to tell you that June is bittersweet

With all its birthdays and anniversaries and holidays.

But my minutes were too full of what comes when you hold little hands and hearts of those who know what love and loss really mean.

20160402_10383420180609_11400020170312_143027

20180613_135332 (1)

I meant to tell you that summer is a mama-hoot.

With all its sibling brawls and bedtime excuses and I’m-a-gonna-lose-my-mama-stuff-all-over-the-place.

But my hours were too full of the sweet and mundane grace that wet swimsuits and muddy shoes and mama-just-one-more-minute can bring.

20180627_10491920180613_13523420180623_13454320180613_151130

I meant to tell you that even in grace there are days that are hard.

With a body that is broken and people that are messy and tomorrows that feel fragile.

But my days were too full of all the things I usually watch other mamas do and say, Maybe someday.

20180609_11424020180601_16101420180626_08282120180601_204159

I meant to tell you that life is less about what you have and more about the people in it. 

With every minute…

20180630_164932

With every hour…

20180526_165657

With every day…

20180613_150225

But life stepped in and said all I needed to say.

 

 

 

I Mom So Hard I Mooned A Grocery Store

20170514_113027.jpgMother’s Day is upon us, my friends.

We will sob and cry at sappy ads and Facebook videos. We will force perfect pictures of not-so-perfect people. We will brunch with babies losing their ever-loving stuff all over the place.

We will try. Lord help us, we will try. To hold onto the hope that someday, somehow, we’ll all get it right.

I’ll admit, I am at a loss.

The only thing I can really offer you is my Monday.

A day I am struggling to remember save one tiny (or not so tiny) detail.

When after a day of mom-fails and pure ridiculousness, I entered our local grocery store none-the-wiser to wander around aisles and forget things only to go back to the same aisles. In other words, I was all over that precious store for a grand total 5 items.

And then it happened. After a brief run through the self-checkout, Lord help me, it HAPPENED.

The sweet girl behind the kiosk pulls me aside and says, “Ma’am, your shirt.”

I assumed she wanted to read it. I mean, y’all, it said, I love you more than coffee…well almost. So I smoothed it out so she could see all the words?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Instead, she leaned in again, “No, ma’am. The back. I think it supposed to hang down? Maybe???”

I turned to survey the damage. I say damage because every woman in the world knows that the pants industry has certifiably failed us. Not one blessed pair stays up.

Not. One.

So there it was. The horrifying truth that I had half-mooned my grocery store in front of, er behind, me. Suddenly, I began to panic.

Do I go apologize to everyone in the store? Do I buy them moon pies? Or do I hand out eclipse glasses so they are safe the next time????

I mean, seriously, no potty-training, preteen-angst, how-to-raise-the-perfect-kid book covered this scenario. Mom is so tired she moons a grocery store. Where is that book, I ask you?

“Ma’am?”

I snapped back to reality when I realized the plight of the poor woman standing in front of me so I said a quick, “Thank you. That was so kind.” When let’s face it, she probably could have really used eclipse glasses, a box of moon pies and a transfer.

But it was all I had to give.

So I went directly to my car and devoured my kid’s Hot Tamales. No really, I did. Mother of the Year, I am never.

And that’s why I am willing to share this mortifying, albeit snort-worthy story.

You are going to here a lot of words thrown around this week.

Super-Hero. Great. Loved. Strong. Caring. Beautiful.

But do you know what heroic really looks like?

It’s bags-under-the-eyes, never-giving-up, hot-tamale-downing, pants-failing, moon-pie-buying, I’m-going-to-love-you-even-when-you-hate-me commitment to put one tired foot in front of the other and get up the next day and do it all over again.

So remember that in the trying.

When the pictures are a disaster and the brunch is a dumpster fire and you are missing the one person that should be there but isn’t.

Remember that beauty can be broken too.

Because it’s love and it deserves to celebrated. One messy, mooning step at a time.

Time For Kindness

Good-Morning-Clock-HD-WallpaperI had almost missed her.

The oops-I-dropped-my-keys-hope-my-pants-stay-up-left-my-purse-in-the-cart crazy me. The boy-I-need-to-refocus-look-at-the-clock-to-see-the-time-sheesh-it’s-almost-pick-up hot mess me. The do-I-look-over-at-the-lady-waving-in-the-car-next-to-me-because-I-really-don’t-want-to-slow-down selfish me.

We all almost missed her.

But something in my heart said to roll the window down, offer a smile and say, Do you need something?

And then I saw her.

Big brown eyes, holding tight to her phone, sitting in her hot car, swallowing hard before she said, I am so sorry but do you have a few dollars to help me get some gas? I called my boy and he won’t answer. I am just so embarrassed I even have to ask but do you think maybe? Maybe you could help me?

There was something in her voice that I recognized, something that drew me away from the clock and toward her, something I knew…

It was the fear of being lost.

So I said, I don’t have any cash but if you follow me to the gas station across the street we can get you on your way!

Really?!?!?

Yep, just follow me, my dear!

And off we went. Two disabled ladies. One with slightly wiser hair.

It was not until I went to pump her gas that I realized why my heart had given me pause to stay.

The why came as my new friend started to get out of the car. I saw her sweet little house shoes and her swollen hands so I stopped her with a wink, You stay, I am happy to be your attendant today! Her eyes misted a little as she sat back down and shut the door.

She swallowed hard just as before and then answered, Thank you so much for being kind. You weren’t the first person I asked. Or the second. Or the third. And my son, he just wasn’t picking up the phone. We talk every day. I just don’t know why he didn’t pick up the phone. Just thank you so much…

And then it occurred to me, this sweet girl was me.

A little lost. A little confused. A little older.

But she was me and Mimi and every sweet soul who has ever had a moment where life didn’t make sense and someone, even a stranger, had to make sense of it for us.

So I fought back a few tears of my own and said, Well, sister, I have been given extraordinary kindness by some extraordinary people. And today? Today is my day to pay it forward. Thank you for giving me the chance to love on you.

But I had almost missed her, you see.

Because the purse was in the cart and the clock was counting down and the lady waving at me might just think I didn’t see her if I turn my head this way. But. Then. My heart reminded me of something I forget entirely too often.

Time and kindness do not scare one another. Kindness jumps in and makes the clock wait. Because it knows something marvelous is waiting on the other side.

A human being in need of love.

 

Around the Corner

gracemimi2

It’s the moment you turn the corner to find a breathtaking view.

Her lips moving gently. Her hands holding hers. Her posture of absolute love.

In a glance so brutally beautiful it is hard to see for what it is, the very thing she had been denied in loss before:

The chance to say goodbye.

Part of me shook in anger that her 12-year-old heart had been so often ripped apart. Part of me sobbed in knowing this would change her, age her, grow her up too quickly. And part of me stood wrecked in seeing what I feared the most.

The day she would have to say goodbye to me.

It is the bittersweet of almost-goodbyes.

The knowing that you have been given the most rare and precious gift of tomorrow. The knowing that breath and time beat in the pounding of your heart. The knowing that joy comes morning by morning, mercy by mercy, second by glorious second.

So you put it on the shelf so the weight does not crush you.

But then you find yourself watching someone you love fade into eternity and you’re reminded that you are slowly fading too.

So you love this someone with all you have and laugh at her unwavering wit and cry at the days that are hard and find all the beauty there is because you know one thing as you know life itself…

Jesus is there and He will not leave.

Even when we shake in anger. Even when we ugly snot and sob. Even when we stand wrecked to our very soul.

We may think He’s left in all the noise of our suffering. We may find it hard to see His good in all our hard. We may wonder if in the middle of our hurt we will reach out and find nothing.

But I can tell you from the depths of me, the places that are hard-edged and broken, the places that are soft and seeking, the voice that can cuss and scream and doubt, the voice that can be poetic and pretty and lilting, Jesus is there and He will not leave.

In the wanting. In the waiting. In the fading away.

The Cross is more than just a Palm Sunday or a Good Friday or an empty tomb.

It is every time you turn the corner.

So that when you happen to find yourself at the very last one, you breathe in grace, reach out and turn.

Because you know He’ll be there too.

 

Home Is Coming

mimimaddie

I remember the day I knew.

Knew that you were somehow changed. Knew that you had moved beyond forgetful. Knew that your life was fading into the recesses of your brilliant mind.

I remember the hum of the breathing machine.

Your breath moving with a steady in and out. Your eye roll and indignation that such a thing would interrupt our chat. Your sweet little hand reaching for mine as if to say, “Don’t go.”

But as it always does, life beckoned me home and I had to say our usual goodbye.

A squish. A kiss. A whole mess of I love you’s. And yet?

Something in the usual seem changed.

It started the minute I began to gather my things and you asked,“Is it okay if I sit in the front seat?” To which I turned and smiled and chalked it up to a little post-stroke confusion. But as I bent down to hug you, you started to stand as though a wheelchair no longer seemed necessary.

So I sat you down gently with a “Oh Mimi, you have to stay here. Remember you are in the hospital and we are trying to get you better so you can be home with Papa?”

But you started to stand again, insisting, “I want to go home with you. I want sit in the front seat. I promise we’ll have fun.”

Tears began to well in my eyes as I sat you down once more, pressed our foreheads together and said, “Mimi, I want nothing more than to bring you home with me right this SECOND. But you still have some important work to do here.”

Your eyes grew wide and tears began to fall as you whispered, “Well, that is just the pits.” And I had to agree with a “Yes, it is, sweet girl. Yes, it is. But I promise home is coming soon.”

Two months later, I would see those wide, tear-filled eyes again.

Longing for our Papa, searching his face for the last time, saying again what your words could not, “I want to go Home with you.” And yet? Something in you stayed.

I cannot help but think it was love.

Love for your girl who had lost so much. Love for your grandbabies and great-grandbabies whose hearts needed a chance to say goodbye. Love for your boy who needed to be there when you finally went Home.

And such an unabashed, selfless love it was.

To break through a cruel disease just to be known. To change us all in its wake. To open our hearts to a love so deep and so wide, I cannot help but call it good.

For soon is now and all that was taken from you has been restored. Giving way to a hope that softly pulls me forward. Forward toward a sweet promise so familiar I can almost hear you calling,

“Soon, Sara. Home is coming soon.”

To the One Beside the Hospital Bed

097I see you.

Holding your hurt so close to your heart it stays unspoken. Hoping that your tired eyes don’t show beneath the coffee and the makeup. Hiding the burden you carry because you are the smile, the steady hand and the bringer of flowers and fuzzy socks and all the things big and little.

I know you.

You are brother and sister. You are mother and father. You are nana and papa. You are husband and wife. You are son and daughter. You are friend and neighbor. You are grace and laughter. You are love and tears. You are the reason to wake up, to push through, to hold on and to fight.

I hear you.

When you fill the silence with words because the what-if’s are too hard to carry. When you whisper things into the darkness of a hospital room that you hope are already known. When you say yes to everything offered because there is no price tag too high for the chance to have another day with me in it.

I get you.

Doing all the things that must be done even though your whole world has fallen down. Forcing yourself to put one foot in front of the other just to find tomorrow. Leaving the hospital to find yourself sobbing in the car only to realize you are home again and have to pull it all together.

Because life must go on to the humdrum beat of the mundane.

Bills paid and lunches packed and papers signed and groceries bought and plumbing fixed and oil changed in such a steady, familiar pound that no one seems to recognize its bravery.

And yet it is.

So even when you feel like a hero unsung, know that you are always noticed.

For you are the light in my smile, in my strength, in my very breath. You are the way He holds my hand in places where no one else will tread.  You are the one who carries the chance of a hard goodbye in every sweet hello.

You are so much more than mundane or humdrum or familiar.

You are an everyday warrior of love.