3652 Days

I have spent the last 10 years obsessing over every single detail about the last day I spent with my mom on December 25.  

I woke up that morning from the worst sleep ever. The only two words I can use to adequately describe the nightmare I experienced was black and suffocating. I was surrounded by blackness and I could not breathe. I was scared but in a way, I couldn’t describe. When I emerged from the bedroom, my mom took one look at me and asked if I was okay. I wasn’t and I wouldn’t know why for another 30 or so hours. Normally, we would have talked about what I had experienced but, it was just too heavy and sad to share on her most favorite holiday.  
 
We bustled about the house, as usual, that day. Her cooking and singing her favorite Luther Vandross Christmas songs and me finishing wrapping the Christmas gifts she saved for me to wrap for her. We talked, laughed, gossiped and ate the green beans she cooked for later at breakfast; and I felt the heaviness of the night’s sleep slowly lift as we exchanged gifts. Always my best friend, she made everything better for me.  
 
We celebrated Christmas, as usual, that year with our family at my aunt E and uncle G’s house. One of my most favorite family gatherings of the year! My mom knew how much I loved it but took her time getting ready to go…as she did every year. Once you entered their home you were greeted with love, laughter, kids running around and the smell of all my favorite foods. Nothing better! 
 
After a marathon of pictures, catching up, and plates of food, my mom and I packed up to head back to her house. I was scheduled to work the next day in Chicago before returning the next day to finish my week off with my mom in Dixon. I also arranged to take my three-year-old, goddaughter with me. Since the office would only have one other person there, my goddaughter and I would hole up in one of our empty conference rooms to pass the time reading, coloring, and playing with toys until we could head to the zoo. 
 
Once we returned to my mom’s house, I quickly gathered what I needed, kissed my mom goodbye as she laid on the couch and headed to my car to pick up my goddaughter. Small problem, my car was somehow stuck in the driveway. The same car we used to pull into the driveway no more than an hour ago. It wasn’t snowing but there was a layer of ice coating the ground below. I couldn’t move it in the right direction, every effort pushed the car further into the plowed snow on the side of the driveway. My mom, now standing in the door, called my uncle and then my cousins to help in what none of us could understand, how in the world is this car even stuck? I thought about how ridiculous it would sound for me to call my manager and tell her that I couldn’t make it to work because my car is stuck in the driveway with no snow. So, I was determined to honor my commitment. With the help of my family, we finally got the car out. I wouldn’t understand until the following day, why it was so difficult to move that car, I wasn’t supposed to leave.  
 
My mom called me twice on the 26th. Both times mostly to check and see if I was doing okay taking care of a toddler. “How are you and your charge? How did you both sleep? What are you making her for breakfast? What time are you coming back home?”, she asked. The last call that day from her was mid-morning with more of the same ending with her saying she would see me later.  
 
A few hours later I would get two calls from my family in Dixon. One to tell me that my mom was being rushed to the hospital and to come home immediately and the other one I have never forgotten. The second call came as I was driving home from Chicago with my goddaughter in tow about forty-five minutes later. When I answered the phone my normally calm Aunt who was also an LPN was yelling at me to get there and I heard crying in the background. I yelled back at her that I had to drive 2 hours to get home and I was driving as fast as I could. I pleaded with her to tell me what was wrong, but she was having none of it. Hearing a break in her voice when she yelled again for me to get there sent me into hysterics as I hung up the phone. 

I immediately called my dad in Louisiana who did his best to calm me down so I could make it safely. I just remember telling him, “I can handle anything except her death, I will never recover from that.” He told me to focus on getting there and take it from there. 
 
When I arrived, everyone was outside. I ran to the ER entrance. I knew it was bad. I still feel like this part happened in slow motion. They shuffled me down a hallway and into a large room. Once inside, my family lovingly surrounded me and told me she didn’t make it. Make what?  

My mom died on December 26, 2008, minutes before that second call from my aunt. My entire existence changed in one afternoon.  
 
I remember asking for someone to pray and then I went to see her, although not the circumstances we talked about earlier in the day.  She was dead now. The stain of blood still on her lips from the blood clot that took her life. My beloved everything was now pain-free with her parents.  

I can somehow recall things like the color of the first shirt I bought, as the only daughter of her dead mother, a red turtleneck from Shopko. The furniture in her living room hastily rearranged to make room for the paramedics to get the stretcher in and out of her house. The beautiful white suit wrapped in dry cleaner’s plastic I found hanging on the back of her bedroom door, the same day I fretted about how I would dress her for her funeral. Driving with my cousin Londa to CherryVale Mall to buy suits for the visitation and funeral and learning that dead people don’t need shoes in their caskets.  

That first year was blurry. I often awoke surprised I hadn’t died the night before from grief. I got up each day with a heavy sigh convinced of two things; someone was praying for me and God needed me to stay on earth but for what reason, I didn’t know.  
 
Now, 10 years later, the pain is still thick and I maneuver through it. Most days I still find it unbelievable that my mom is dead. But she is and life goes on.
 
I find comfort in the love and lessons she shared with me, my daughter’s connection to the Nana she never met, and knowing that when I need her most my mom is with me. Mostly, I remind myself that I have more memories with her than without her and that means everything. 

Mommy circa 1974

Love-Me-Downs

Often times when we think of hand-me-downs, material items come to mind. Things. The problem with things…they can be lost, damaged or stolen.

The Daily Prompt asked, “Tell us about some of the meaningful hand-me-downs in your life.” I decided to share a few verbal hand-me-downs that have stayed with me through the years.

From My Grandma Josie:

“Never love a man more than you love yourself.”

“One of the reasons I decided to marry your Grandpa was because he was sincere.”

“Don’t expect to be paid for everything you do.”

“Praying is your letter to God.”

From My Mom:

“I know you think you are too impatient to be a Mother, but I see the capacity in you. You will see it one day too.”

“The sooner you realize that life isn’t always fair the better equipped you will be to handle it.”

“I wish you could see the beauty I see when I look at you.” 🙂

There really are so many nuggets of wisdom my Mom and Grandma shared not only with me but, with so many others over the years, I could really write a longer post. Even though I selfishly wish I had more time with them both, their many hand-me-downs always provide me with what I need, when I need it most. Comfort, laughter, strength, support or direction.

And they will never be lost, damaged or stolen.

Photo Credit

A Georgia Peach Kinda Day

Last week, our Sweet Baby Girl turned 3 years old! Time is passing much too fast for me, I am not a fan. 😦  It seems like only yesterday I was rocking Georgia Peach as an infant.  Okay, it probably was yesterday we sometimes play “Baby Goo Goo” in which she rocks HER baby (whose name is Goo Goo)  and I rock her. Anyway…The Coach and I have quickly become fans of a party a few days before her birthday and having her all to ourselves on her actual birthdate. 🙂 So, in honor of our GP’s birthday, I decided to take a picture every couple of hours to document the activities of her special day.

So, I present to you… A Georgia Peach Kinda Day!

First, we dropped off The Coach at Football Camp...

Can I wear your hat Daddy?
Don’t take your hat Daddy, can I wear it?

 

Next, a stop at her special occasion only breakfast spot…

I love donuts, Mommy! Wait, what is this…jelly? Yuck!
I love donuts, Mommy! Wait, what is this…jelly? I don’t like the jelly, Mommy.

A little playtime with her bathroom toys…

Let's go to the airport! The toys are taking a ride on the tissue box airplane. Buckle up.
Let’s go to the airport! The toys are taking a ride on the tissue box airplane. Buckle up.

 

And no day is complete without a little jumping…

Jump! Jump! Jump!
Jump! Jump! Jump!

 

All that jumping can make a girl hungry. Time for one of her favorite snacks…

More cheese, please!
More cheese, please!

 

It’s craft time!

Well, just in case you were wondering, GP likes her stickers!
Well, just in case you were wondering, GP likes her stickers!

Time for a carriage ride! Thanks to the Ladies at Plantation Carriage Company for the birthday love!

Got my Daddy and my fancy headband…let's get started!
Got my Daddy and my fancy headband…let’s get started!

This day would NOT be complete without a little pizza. “The Lineage “with Wheat crust from YourPie is the business. Get some, for real!

 

Yummy pizza pie! The veggies are for Mommy.
Yummy pizza pie! The veggies are for Mommy.

Can we ride on the boat now?

Yay! We are on a boat. So what if it was the free taxi. :-)
Yay! We are on a boat. So what if it was the free water taxi. 🙂

 

Hope you had a great day, my Sweet!

Happy Birthday, Georgia Peach!
Happy Birthday, Georgia Peach!

 

You Ain’t So Bad

When I was pregnant with GeorgiaPeach (GP), the Coach and I decided that we aka I would breastfeed our Little Peach. I made him promise me that if I wanted to quit he would remind me of the commitment I made to our family and to stay with it. Sounded simple enough to us. What could possibly go wrong?

We took a breastfeeding class. I read books and asked my Circle of Moms who had breastfed successfully and (not so successfully) what I could expect. I was as prepared as I could be. One emergency C-Section later, I was in the breastfeeding business or…so I thought.

It was a rough start for me. I was nursing GP on demand as you should but, I didn’t realize she didn’t need to nurse for an unlimited amount of time! My precious baby was channeling Clubber Lang, kinda like this scene from Rocky III.

After going to my corner and spending 3 days feeling like a human pacifier, unlike Rocky, I was ready to throw in the towel. Can I order some formula, please?  And that was when all of my ‘I Just Had A Baby And She Depends On Me To Eat’ emotions came to the surface and I broke down.

Me (crying): I quit! I’m not breastfeeding anymore. I don’t know what I’m doing. And IT HURTS! Did I miss someone telling me that part?

The Coach (very concerned and looking for the slightest symptoms of Postpartum Depression): What happened?

Me (still crying): I don’t think GP is getting enough to eat, I am still waiting for  my milk “to come in” and I miss my Mom! Listen, before you even start with me, I don’t have PPD so stop looking at me like that, this is normal, I JUST HAD A BABY! And no, I do NOT want to harm myself or our child, okay? I know there are other symptoms but trust me I’m fine, exhausted but, fine.

The Coach: Okay. But Babe, you don’t want to quit. You and I both know it. You are doing great, GP is definitely filling up these diapers so she is getting fed. I don’t know what you are feeling but, I will do everything I can to help and support you. Should we call someone?

The Coach: Wait. It hurts?

Me (exhausted): I don’t know who else to call! I’ve called Jesus, my Friends, the Lactation Consultant from the hospital AND I emailed the instructor from the class. I have one more day left in me and that is it!

So…I didn’t quit, my milk ‘came in’ the next morning (the way I found out was pretty hilarious but, I will spare everyone the details) and I successfully breastfed GP for the next 11 months. 🙂 But the point of this entire post is that the I felt slightly bamboozled by the masses.

Breastfeeding hurts…in the beginning.

Now, before  you go all Lactation Consultant on me, hear me out.

As a first time natural “provider” of nourishment to a newborn, I had never (ahem) used my lady parts in such a capacity or as much in a short time span. Know what I mean?  Even when you are doing it correctly you will be sore, in the beginning. And I had cooling pads, creams, a nursing pillow, a comfy chair, etc! The whole process took some getting used to and I was reminded that we were both learning what to do. Obviously, a number of women are not able to breastfeed for various reasons so, I get it. You have to do what works for you and YOUR family. Period.

So…I said all of that to say…if you are thinking about breastfeeding or if you just started, the truth is you will be sore and there will likely be some pain but, the experience was one I would never trade. Once I relaxed and settled in, GP and I started to work together. The pain DID go away and the experience transformed into what I envisioned all along, our first collaborative effort. 😉

Breastfeeding, in the words of Rocky Balboa, “You ain’t so bad”.

Take THAT Breastfeeding!

 photo credit

I Don’t Care

A couple of months ago, I was back in the best city ever :-), for a fabulous wedding and to celebrate my dear Friend’s new job and relocation back to the East Coast. We planned to go out for dinner and drinks with some of her friends at around 9p to celebrate…just like the old days. On the drive over to the restaurant, my Friend and I were catching up when she says to me, “I predict you will say ‘my Husband’ about 11 times during conversations tonight.”

Wait, was she talking to me? Probably since I was the only other person in the car, but huh?

Have I graduated from baby updates to name dropping?

Do I say ‘my Husband’ constantly in conversations when talking about the Coach?

Have I turned into ‘that woman’?

To be fair, I am a newlywed and I enjoy it quite a bit, thank you very much. But this comment made me question the content of my conversations. It’s not like I squeeze in a ‘my Husband’ while talking about politics, food, fashion, reality shows or more importantly Scandal. Or do I?

Here’s what I realized…I don’t care! That’s right, I said it. I don’t care. Here’s why…

About 10 years ago, after breaking up with a guy I probably would have vomited on if our Georgia Peach had dated, I made a list. I mean seriously people, you make a list of things you need at the grocery store so don’t look at me all sideways about a list for a LIFE LONG PARTNER. A list of all the qualities I wanted in a Husband and what I wanted our relationship to look like. I tucked it away and over the years I would pull it out review it and revise it. Each time I would pray over the list asking God to remind me not ask for qualities in another I didn’t possess myself. I had on it things that would complement my personality like being family oriented and sincere. Sincerity was the quality my beloved Grandma Josie said she was the most drawn to when picking my cool Grandpa Joe. They were married for just short of 40 years when my Grandpa passed away (they had 11 children so there were CLEARLY other qualities they saw in each other). But, their relationship showed me a level of commitment to each other and to their family that remains with me and I pray to have in my own marriage.

So, after years of praying (and crying) for a great partner in life, I drafted the Coach.  🙂

I waited a long time for the right man for me so, I am more than happy to say with pride, my Husband. I love my Husband, love that we are friends, love being married to him, love that we have to work together to resolve our differences and that we work on communicating with one another, love that we are a team, love that he is a great Father to Georgia Peach and love that he is sincere.

Thanks for the great advice, Grandma Josie. I think you would have liked, MY HUSBAND. 🙂

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