We must believe as lovers do
that days in the sun
will come shining through...."
My mom passed away unexpectedly five months ago. She didn't suffer from what I could tell and for that I feel a subtle peace. Many have said, with consoling words, it was good that way. I have seen friends who have struggled as their loved ones have passed away slowly and it is a lingering pain for all. I am glad we did not go through that. And yet for us there has been the lingering slow denouement of her life. The final scene is next week when we close on her house. There is a paradox of relief balanced with the sadness that this is a part of our life that is now concluding.
Preparing for this has been the main aspect of my life these past five months. I've not seen much of the gym or Sandee; certainly no Ashley Madison (probably a good thing) and very little time to blog. Rather, each day the words of that song chime in my head as I remember the peace that her home has given me over the past several years. I move a sleeper sofa and I remember the night we were snowed in and I watched Ella Enchanted with my girls and ate popcorn in front of the TV on that very spot. I move the grill and remember all the peaceful Sunday afternoons I spent cooking out, sipping on a Yingling, and keeping track of the NASCAR race or perhaps the Redskin's game just inside.
The last five months have had stressful hurdles to move past, the neighborhood memorial where our local friends stopped by to tell us how much they enjoyed her as a neighbor. It was tough getting the house ready for guests in addition to our own life close by. We prepared her shrimp creole and in the end had a wonderful time, surprised at how much impact she had had on this community though she only lived her this last decade. Then there was the memorial back home to plan. I drove down two days ahead and completed final arrangements. Again, stress then alleviated by the joy of seeing so many friends. As we moved past winter the house had to be made ready for sale. Much cleaning and organizing, a yard sale, moving treasured family items to others and to our home. Then finding an agent and arriving on price and ultimately negotiating with potential buyers.
Through it all she has seemed alive and certainly a presence in our life. At first it was the cats who had to be fed and taken care of daily; mail that needed to be gathered. Often it was the flour we didn't need to buy because she had a bag at her house; oh, we don't need to buy Windex she has plenty. The neighbor needs sheets for their daughter going to college, she has an extra set we can give them. The tasks so mundane and yet pleasant that her house and yes she was still in our life in some small way.
When her older cat died it was sad but a relief. The cat who she fed and then took into her home was very happy every time we came down to visit. He slowly latched onto my daughter and then one day we were able to get him to our house. Though we already knew him he is now becoming part of our home.
Her best friend came up to pick up some furniture for her son. We decided to have a final cookout and dinner at her house. I remembered during the meal to look around the table and take a mental picture for my mind's photo album. There was happiness and joy around the table and it was good to savior that last hospitable moment in the house.
I moved much of the last furniture a few days ago. Funny, it reconnected me with Alecia. One of the families she helps is moving to a new place and has nothing. I took over two rooms worth of furniture and a kitchen worth of supplies. It feels good that a new family will sit on that couch in front of that TV and sleep on that bed and keep their clothes in that dresser.
But as I continue to hear that song I realize the melancholy lyrics and chords amplify the loss I feel of her and in the life that is moving on for all of us, the life that my daughters led partially growing up in that house, the meals we had on those Sunday afternoon and holidays, the peaceful times watching Big State U on that big HD TV. I miss her and I am anxious at how this event has so clearly defined the line of demarcation to this next phase of our life. I can't believe both of my daughters will be in high school next year and that we are starting to plan for college. These are exciting times but also pensive and certainly leave me longing (as the song lyrics say) for easier days gone by. I can't help feel the lifeline of my family's childhood slowly fading as we clear out the final belongings.
I guess in the end, beyond the pictures and the quilts her lingering presence will be a happy cat purring on a bench in front of the upstairs window. I think she would be happy with that.
"I can't go back into my childhood, one that my (mother) made secure. I can feel a change in me. I'm stronger now, but still not free....."