Moving, Mom & the Dance

I felt halfway insane as the words came out of my mouth.
We were in the car alone, a rare moment for David and i over the past weeks.
We were tired. Already 2 solid days of unpacking and re-settling and the days had been filled from first daylight to well into wee hours of the next day. Our conversation was light and touching on our gratitude for help and the example I have had of hard-work throughout my life.
Then, without conscious thought, a lump rose to my throat. I fell silent. David felt it, too. You could just sense it in the empty spaces of the car as we drove the crowded blocks of our new city.
My mom.
My mom is the one who has taught me how to work hard during a move. How to keep pushing until the last box was unpacked. How to do it the right way the first time, even if it took an extra step. How to just keep putting one foot in front of the other until you could sit back and admire—with a sense filled with a mixture of gratitude, relief, and accomplishment.
And she had been there for every move. Until now.
My sisters and I once counted up how many moves she has made in her life—most of them not her own. It was well over 2 dozen. And each with the same amount of excitement and energy to be sure we really felt settled by the time she left.
The perfect storage bins purchased, packed and concealed, the right shelving painted and placed, every pot with a home, the bedroom space homey, every linen clean and folded away.
This time—this move across the country to an amazingly foreign-familiar City—we were on our own.
Yet, I could hear her.
I could hear her in the early morning, deep cleaning inside cabinets and into every corner. I could hear her in the kitchen cabinets whose doors laid open and shelves stuffed full while 3/4 of our kitchen items still remained to be put away. I could hear her in the cold water and special treats I went to get the movers. I could hear her in the gentle push to just get one more box unpacked. I could hear her as the kids ran about trying wrangle and help. I could hear her as we moved a dresser from one place, to another and then back again.
In the car, in that moment, my tears turned to a gut wrenching sob as words tumbled from my subconscious and out of my mouth, “it’s like…it’s like her ghost is here.”
Even now, as I write, I want to change it. I want to make it somehow more poetic or more acceptable. Rather to say, “it’s like her spirit” or “I can sense her.” But that’s not how my subconscious saw it. And that’s not how I said it.
It is her ghost. It is her presence, so palpable I could reach out and touch it.
Yet, when I do, I am met only with a sense of longing, as if wakened from a dream.
Tomorrow, we have seen 365 days without her on earth. We have carried a lot of firsts during this year.

First October birthday celebration without one of the Trio.

First Halloween without sage advice on how to make bumblebee antenna.

First Thanksgiving without her sticky-note organization that matched food to serving dishes.

First Christmas without stockings filled with dollar store treasures and her coy look as we tried to match wrapping paper to person.

First new year that she will never know.

First birthday for each of her grandkids without a FaceTime call or gigi-made banana cake.

First Valentines day without a USPS-delivered box of red and pink candies and cards.

First Easter without her infamous Easter t-shirt in the mail.

First Mother’s Day without a mom to pass on my gratitude.

First year to consider where to send our kids to school without her advice and experience.

First summer swimming in her pool without her cutting chunks of cold watermelon inside.

First, second, third and 100s more thoughts to call her without any way to do it.

First home and city we live in that will never hold memories of her.

And so many more.
All pictures from Casio 030.jpeg
As I reflected on my mom and her death earlier this week, the words from an old, wise letter and a beautiful, ancient song coupled in my head. That we may be “transformed from glory to glory” as he continues to turn our “mourning into dancing again.”
We have such hope, such Joy set before us—such that all the firsts of sorrow have been painted into the canvas of a new type of firsts. First that I hadn’t expected, the firsts of remembering.
Death brings a consciousness to life like none I have ever experienced. I have forced myself to remember the mom of 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago, and that mom is more alive now than she ever would have been prior to death.

Remember when she taught me to sew a button, over and over, at the age of 2 and 3 and 4. And then to her dismay I announced one day after junior high that I had learned to sew a button in Life Management.

Remember that she loved peas but despised yogurt. 

Remember that she read my favorite books to me so many times she knew them by heart.

Remember that she took on an attitude of excitement when I went to kindergarten because it was all she could think to do when I was so excited.

Remember that she held our sick babies until they drifted off hard to sleep.

Remember that she lit her lantern in the morning while it was still dark.

Remember that she awoke me with warm homemade bread, slathered with butter & cinnamon-sugar.

Remember that she put a high priority on ironing that I don’t seem to have.

Remember that she didn’t make me clean my room, but she did make me clean my fish tank.

Remember that she drove around the entire neighborhood picking up friends to go to Wednesday night youth group.

Remember that she stocked full candy bars in her pantry.

Remember that she used a gentle answer to turn away wrath.

Remember that she made a mean baloney and mustard sandwich.

Remember that she made cookies to fit perfectly inside of a Pringles can.

Remember that she never pried but was always open. 

Oh and so much more remembering. It is the type of remembering that I would not have taken the time to do had she still been here, enjoying the day to day with us.
So, through the tears, I am grateful for that.
Tomorrow will be the last of our year of Firsts. And I’m not sure what it will be like.
It makes me tremor a bit and smile a bit and remember a lot. It makes me grateful for my sisters, dad, husband, kids. It makes think about making Befus Chocolate cake, if I can get myself to use that much sugar.
It reminds me that with each day we can move from glory to glory, even in sorrow, because that mourning will be turned to dancing again.
And I know it is weird, but, I am sure my mom’s ghost will be there to dance with us.

4 thoughts on “Moving, Mom & the Dance

  1. I actually read this twice, because I love it so much! I think most of us feel that our own moms are pretty special, but your mom was above and beyond! What a legacy she has left in each her daughters. She taught you to be the loving mom you are today…her love shines on through you. Will be thinking of you tomorrow and praying for comfort and peace.


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