Thursday, October 29, 2009


Butterflies became our theme, our symbol to remember Mom. They came quickly and they were everywhere. The idea first came to us when we were preparing for the service, reading over things we had jotted down, and notes Mom had previously written. We kept coming across one of favorite Bible verses, II Corinthians 5:17. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come."
Often you will find this verse on a bookmark or trinket with a butterfly next to it to symbolize the "new creation." So, knowing this was one of Mom's favorite verses, we chose to incorporate it into the service and her memorial.
We knew we wanted to have the verse printed on the bulletin, but had to look through several styles to make a choice. One finally caught our eye, and we knew it was the one. On the front it read, "The memory of the righteous will be a blessing." It was delicate, respectful, and accurate. It was perfect...........and happen to have a big butterfly on it as well.

So, as this verse became encouragement to us, so did the butterfly. And as winter slowly became spring, we began seeing them everywhere......on the flower arrangements people were sending, on cards we received, on things in stores we were in, and in the sky flying right around us. I saw them, Joy saw them, Dad saw them, and Julia and Avery saw them. Even Mom's sister, Aunt Esther saw one fly right around her and her husband and their RV right before heading out on the road on a long trip. They were everywhere. And they became little Godwinks to remind us that Mom was safely in His hands. She was a new creation now, in more ways than one.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Birthday Card

My first birthday without mom came all too quickly. January 28th was only a few weeks after Mom had died. It was a strange feeling. Yes, still a sad one, but different than the previous days. It got me in my soul, in an even deeper, more personal place than before.
Mom was the birthday party giver. She was the birthday celebrater. How could I even think about my day of birth when we had just recently experienced her day of death? She was the one who birthed me and brought me into this world. But she was no longer here. My birthday would not be the same without her. I did not even want my birthday to come. In fact, I dreaded it. What would we do? How could we pretend not to notice she wasn't there? Yes, we all got together. Yes, we went to dinner and tried to celebrate. But the whole thing was just awkward, that is the word that comes to my mind, awkward.

Then, there was The Card........the card my dear sweet friend got my Mom to sign for me just a couple weeks before her death, knowing my birthday would be coming soon. She had told me of it, and had my sister hand deliver it to me on my actual day of birth. But I did not open it. I couldn't. It lay there on the kitchen counter, for days, for weeks, before I had enough strength, enough guts to open it. I knew it was one of the last things she ever wrote, and definately the last thing she would ever write to me. It was all I could do to see my name on the front of the envelope in her shaky handwriting. But one cool day in Febuary, I had the opportunity to be alone, and I held the card in my hands for the first time, touching the letters of my name with my fingers. I finally opened it, and I could hardly read her words through my tear filled eyes. I loved it, knowing it was her final words to me, but hated it, feeling how unfair it was that I would never get another birthday card from her again. It was too much to bear, but yet I wanted more. I did not want to ever have to read it again, yet I could not put it down. I continued to read it over and over again. It was so bittersweet. I would cherish it forever and ever.
She wrote how much she loved me. She told me what a good mother I was, and how proud she was of me. She wrote about what a delight it was to be a grandmother. And she ended it saying she would see me again soon someday in Heaven at our beautiful reunion with our Savour. Some days I feel that day will not come soon enough. Oh glorious day that will be!!!!!
Tears ran down my cheeks till I could see no more.

Googling Grief

It did not take long for me to start my research. What was happening to me? Was it normal? How long would it last? How do I cope? What is this thing called "grief"?

Thank goodness for the compter and internet, because I spent a lot of time on it. I began my research by googling the word grief, and found thousands if not millions of sites with information. I read, I searched, I learned, I wrote, I cried. I read about grief and what it can look like, I found songs and printed out their words, I wrote e-mails to other friends and family who had lost their mothers, I read journals, and I began my own blog. I would pull up the Moffitt Cancer Center website and just stare at it, like it was going to tell me something. I went back to Mom's Caringbridge site and would read it over and over again, re-living the tragic story, but also reading all the words of encouragement so many people sent to us. I spent hours looking through photos of Mom on our computer. I made mini scrapbooks for each of the kids. Joy and I traded information on things we found that we thought the other would like to read. I connected with strangers across the country as I read their stories, that were all so different, yet exactly the same.

I needed to learn, to grow, to cope, to deal. I needed to be "doing" something. I needed to be busy, to keep my mind occupied. I needed to be in control again.