From living legend to legend. 

Today marks one year since the last time I spoke to my mom. We talked about the usual day to day, catching up on life. She told me about her recent stress test that showed no immediate concerns. Five days later I would learn she suffered from a fatal heart attack. So much for stress tests. 

A week ago we learned that Auntie Gemma died. Another sudden and devastating loss. This is life, I know. 

While my dear uncle remains in the hospital fighting to overcome kidney issues (after surviving a stroke, heart attack, cancer and Vietnam!), I cherish his lucid (awake) moments and recall many sweet memories. 

Some people are iconic, whether it’s a patriarch or a matriarch or just a stolid member of the family. When one falls, there is always someone just as strong to carry on the legacy. It’s like a royal dynasty. Well it is royal isn’t it, what’s more important than family? 
All the family and friends and even the celebrities and musicians we felt like we knew… All the ones that were living legends… And became simply, legends. They left their mark, on one or many. 

It’s hard to let go though… To let them be legends. We want them back, we want times to be like they were before. They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to release the grief. Support and love from those around get us through our difficult times. 

There’s no clear path, no getting “over it”. There is only a new way of looking at life, at your surroundings. Every day I find a new perspective, the one that keeps me thankful for the love and life I am blessed with; the one that shields me from bitterness and resentment. Every day I look at life anew. Every. Single. Day.

If you are hurting, I hope you can find the strength to get through today, then tomorrow, then the next day. And the inner peace to feel loved, to realize your blessings, and of course, to smile….

Adrienne

Happy Birthday Mom

Today passed like I expected it would… with a touch of melancholy.

It was a holiday here, so we would have chatted with mom on FaceTime or Skype so she could see the kids. We would have spent an hour or more sharing woes and laughs. I would have said I sent her cards only yesterday so naturally they would be late… and would have thanked her for the  Father’s Day cards (at least two) that arrived, right on time.

Instead, I had a little cry last night. I thought of all the loved ones also thinking of my mom on this day, her birthday, the first since she passed away last July. I hope they thought of happy memories like I did. She would have been 66. It’s still so hard to believe she’s truly gone. Sometimes it just feels like it’s been a while since we spoke, until it hits me that we will never speak again.

Well, I can still wish her a happy birthday…

I love you mom and miss you every single day. No amount of passing time will change that. I wish we could chat, laugh, hug one last time but my memories will have to get me through now. I took time to make faces and laugh with Logan when I was getting him ready for bed. And I sat and watched Emily dance around and laughed with her before her bedtime. I know that’s what you would have done with them. And I wrote this. For you. Happy Birthday Mom.  

Ending off this day with a smile and feelings of love and warmth rather than tears and grief.

Adrienne

On The Edge

I took a deep breath. A very long one. Several weeks long. I thought I was ready to take on the world again… then our family got another bombshell of bad news, which I don’t feel like talking about right this moment. In any case…

I haven’t written much.

I think A LOT though. I think when I’m strolling my baby, when I’m in the car (if the two older ones are not chattering on and on), when I wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.

I think about being a step mom and all it’s frustrations, about my uncle who recently received sad news, about my loved ones far away dealing with their own every day lives. I think about my day and my to do list, about my life here in Trinidad, about life in general, about writing. But mostly I think about my mom.

My mom always kept planners and over the years she started writing in them more and more. She mostly wrote what she did or how she felt. Sometimes she let her thoughts transfer on to the pages. There were years of them. I had read all but the last two years before I left NY. I couldn’t keep all. I decided to keep 2014 & 2015. Those are the years we didn’t visit one another.

As I start to read through them little by little, I am immensely comforted. Seeing her handwriting, reading her words, I can hear her speaking them. She wrote the way she thought and spoke… so it fills me with a warmth I didn’t know I needed.

One of our cousins had this brilliant idea to frame my mom’s writing… what a unique and thoughtful gift.

  
Adrienne

I’ll take that hug with a side of laughter please…

Taking advantage of the better things in life… kids, sunshine, summer.

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The thank you cards are sent. The household is sorted through. The ashes are scattered. The seemingly endless To Do list is completed and thus the intermission is over. There was life with mom. Now there is life without mom.

School starts next week. We’ve been back from NY for a few days and mostly I feel like – well it’s hard to explain. I feel uncertain, cloudy. Yet, in my heart, I know I will survive this.

Lovely words, heartfelt emotions, sympathy cards, late night chats. These have started me on my journey past grief. And hugs. Hugs are the hardest. I simply cannot hug a person without a lake forming in my eyes. Very much a part of the process. Very much the opposite of me. It’s a new day.

Just a select few of many:

The day we scattered Mom's ashes...

The day we scattered Mom’s ashes

Maria was lovely….truly. I am grateful that she was part of my life. I tend to turn to quotes during times of sadness or anger, I found this one and thought it fitting.  I know nothing can help but time, but maybe it will help a little.  I love you and miss you!!
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” ― Leo Tolstoy

Sometimes we’re broken only to discover a rebirth in our lives: a new way of thinking, loving, and cherishing everyone, and every moment we’re blessed with.
I believe you will find the strength that your mom saw in you. And when you do, you’ll realise that the spirit of M is ever-present in your daily life as you hear yourself laugh, and see glimpses of her love in Blaine and the children.

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My favorite.

I have a million things to be joyful for and only one to be sad about. And while it is a deep sadness, the love surrounding me will swallow my grief little by little and it will be OK. I will be OK.

Adrienne

A last letter.

I often joke about wine being my therapy. In actuality, I will quicker turn to words. So I write. Blog pots, journal entries, letters to my mother.

Sometimes I would add little quips in my posts just for my mom. They were almost like inside jokes. Others might find them cute or humorous but my mom would really know what I meant. She understood. She read everything I ever wrote. She saved every card and letter I sent. The inside of her kitchen cabinets were lined with post it notes from all the times I visited over the years. Simple, “Went to the store, A” type notes. We used to write back and forth and sign with only A (me) or M (her). We both loved that the M could stand for Mom or Maria. It became a little tradition… I look forward to seeing that memory on the inside of her cabinet when I eventually get back to NY. And although I won’t save all those notes… I will take a picture of that silly cabinet door. That was her. The little things made her smile.

Unfortunately the little things also stressed her. Now my mom is at peace, away from the daily burdens of life that so often troubled her. Sadly, it’s now that I need her most.

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Hi Mom,

I already miss knowing you are a phone call away. I want to tell you what Emily said when we told her the news. I want to share Aidan’s latest woes with you. I want to put a smile on your face when you hear that Logan started sleeping through the night last week. But maybe you know that already. Was that your doing?

You’ve left me in good hands. The amazing friends I’ve made, the family I’ve stayed close to, the man I married. I picked a good one Mom. He’s been incredible. But you already knew that he would be. Still, I feel like a little girl asking, “Where’s my mommy?”

Soon I will be in NY, in the house, home. I don’t know how to do this without you. What if I’m not as strong as you thought?

I’m glad our last conversation was long and cheerful. They say you did not suffer – I will hold on to that.

I love you Mom. And as I take this long journey, I know you are with me. I know you will watch over me and make sure I continue to have a ‘charmed life’.

-Adri

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Mom in Peru

Today, I Grieve

My mom died.

When the news came

Blaine was at cricket (it’s a big deal here) and my friend was over with her two kids because our sons were hanging out all day. When I saw Blaine’s car pull in I thought it seemed early to be back from a lime with the boys but what do I know. I was in the baby’s room. When Blaine came up, the first thing he did was turn to Monique and say, “I’m glad you are here.” Then he turned to me:

Blaine with a shaky voice: “Age, I don’t know how to tell you this…”

I was wondering what had gone horribly wrong to have him so shaken – I thought a friend of his was hurt, or a family member (of his) had died.

Blaine continuing: “…but Maria died.” That was the last thing I expected him to say.

Me: “What? What? My mom died?”

And then he proceeded to explain that my aunt had found her and our cousin had called him and now here he was…

As the dust settled

The house was a buzz last night, filled with family (bless my overwhelming in-laws!) and my friend came by as well. Once they all left and the kids were asleep I had a few calls to make. And then the house was quiet. My husband fell asleep and I did a lot of staring into space. And then I cried. Stared into space a little more. And cried a lot more.

The finality of this is not something I am able to comprehend fully. Not in my two hour sleep frame of mind.

I will never put ‘Call Mom’ at the top of my To Do list again. I will never get to chat with her over coffee again. I will never share funny stories about my life or laugh with her again. I will never send her a birthday card again. The list is endless.

My mom, my biggest fan, my first best friend. My amazing single mother, with her incredibly infectious laugh, is gone too soon.

Yesterday I was in shock.                            Today I grieve.                                        Tomorrow I forge on. 

 

Mom (left) / Aunt Bee (right)

 
-A