One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six. . .

SEVEN.

SEVEN YEARS.

IT’S BEEN SEVEN WHOLE YEARS.

Seven years ago on March 29th, I answered a phone call from my Dad and heard the words that made my knees buckle and changed my world forever.


Summer, Mom passed away today.

She’s gone. . .

I still remember so much about that day.

That moment.

I could sit down with you and tell you about the celery I was chopping at the time. I could tell you what I was wearing and where Chad was at that exact moment. I could tell you all about that day because, still today, I remember that something deep in my spirit knew that something was off that day. I could look back at the journal entry I wrote the morning she died and I could point to how “off” I was feeling. I could tell you that there was nothing coincidental about my last counseling client that day canceling, getting me home in time to receive the call surrounded by my family and not an empty office. I could tell you the time on the clock when my Dad called. I could tell about how my then four year old son came to me as cried on my knees and handed me a Bible. And I could tell you about the people who carried me that night. The friends and family that dropped what they were doing to sit beside me in silence.

Yes. Today, I still remember so much about March 29th, 2010 and every year on this day I give myself permission to remember. To honor. To think. To feel. To breathe in all that happened that day.

 

I said it often after we lost her, how are we going to do this? How do we go on without her? And my Dad spoke wisdom to me that I will never, ever, forget. . . Summer, he said to me, we will take one day at a time. . . and. . . before you know it, you will look back and be surprised at how far you’ve come.

My Dad was right. (As he always (obnoxiously) is). The last seven years have taught me more than I could have ever imagined.

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1. UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

I have questions that will never have answers. Alcoholism stole my Mom from me. I will never know the demons that plagued her in her later years. I will never know why my Mom, who I remember to be full of life and love and laughter turned inward. I will never understand what she was trying to escape. I will never know why a loving husband, children and new grandchildren were not enough reason to live.

My questions are endless. And I’ll never have answers.

I’ve made peace with my unanswered questions. I’ve made peace with the not knowing. With the question marks. There is no explanation that makes sense. No spiritualization that makes the puzzle come together.

I’ve made peace with my unanswered questions.

I’ve learned that sometimes, there just aren’t answers.

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2. IT’S NOT OKAY

It will never be okay that she’s gone. It will never be okay that she left too soon. It’s not okay that I can’t pick up the phone and call her like I used to nearly every day. It’s not okay that she doesn’t know who Charlie and Chanelle are becoming. It’s not okay that she’s never met Meadow. It will never be okay that she’s not sitting at our Christmas dinner table or that she doesn’t call on my birthday.

It will never be okay that she’s gone.

I’ve learned that losing her will never be okay. . . but I’ll be okay.

While I’ll never get over losing my Mom, I can move forward. A new normal develops. Things change and the change is, well, it’s okay.

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3. BEAUTY & ASHES

I’ve learned that beauty does rise from ashes.

Losing my Mom sparked a transformation in me that, I believe, continues even today. Loss and grief ushered in an examination of my life. A realization of what is truly important and what isn’t. Losing my Mom brought me face to face with the brevity of life. How sweet this life is.

I’m not even close to the person I was seven years ago. Losing her taught me that life is too short to spend it don’t something you don’t enjoy. It’s too short not to hold those you love close. It’s too short not to say ‘I love you” as much as possible.

Life is too short not to live authentically. Not to celebrate a sunrise. Not to laugh and cry and feel the depth of every moment we’ve been given.

4. FORGIVENESS MATTERS

I’ll never know what plagued my Mom. I’ll never know why it all ended like it did.

I could be angry with her. I could get stuck in my questions. However, I choose to forgive.

I choose to believe that my Mom did the best she could. My Mom tried, but couldn’t beat it. Whatever plagued my Mom was bigger than she was. I believe that she wanted to change–she just didn’t know how.

When I forgive my heart is open to love. It’s open to remember the Mom I had most of my life. The mom who loved and laughed and smiled. The mom who became a trusted best friend. The mom who walked through life beside me and supported me without question.

I’ve learned that forgiveness matters.

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5. JOY AND SADNESS

I’ve learned that joy and sadness often mingle together in a beautiful, complicated relationship.

Losing my Mom helped me to celebrate the joys and feel the depths of the gifts of them. Still, every joy brings with it a tinge of sadness.

I wish she were here to see this, is a constant thought.
What would Mom think?
Wouldn’t Mom just love to meet Meadow?
I wish I could call Mom.

Seven years later I wonder what it would be like to be 38 and have a Mom.

Sadness doesn’t steal the joy from the joy–they exist together, and that’s okay.

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6. I’M STRONGER THAN I THOUGHT I WAS

After my mom died I didn’t think I could do life without her. I wasn’t sure how to move forward. My footing felt awkward and scary.
Who was I going to call for everything and nothing?
Who would walk me through motherhood?
Who would guide me down the road before me?
How would I do life without her?

Seven years later here I am. I’m doing it.

Is my footing still awkward? Yes, sometimes.
Am I scared sometimes? Of course.

But I’m doing it.

I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I thought I was.

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7. RELATIONSHIPS MATTER

I knew it before, but I know it even more now. People matter.

Relationships matter. Friendship matters.
Real, authentic, honest, vulnerable relationships matter.
Sometimes, I wonder if my mom would have turned her insides out, whatever plagued her, whatever made her sad, whatever scared her–maybe it wouldn’t have been so scary.

Sometimes, life is scary.
Sometimes, I don’t have it all together.
Sometimes, I don’t know what I’m doing.
Sometimes, I want to cry.
Often, I do cry.

I’ve learned that those few people who are willing to receive my real, honest, raw, vulnerable moments are sometimes as important as air or water.

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Today, I remember my Mom. I remember the mom I choose to remember. I remember all the good that was in her. And I feel gratitude for all that she gave me. Today, I hear my Dads words and I look back and I feel surprised at just how far I’ve come. . .

12 comments
  • Donna Miller - Blessings to you today. May the Lord bring joy to your heart today as you remember all the good things about your Mom.March 29, 2017 – 9:53 amReplyCancel

    • Summer - Thank you so much, Donna. I appreciate that very much.March 29, 2017 – 10:39 amReplyCancel

  • Joyce Stewart - God bless you Summer! I don’t know who you were before I met you in 2012 but after Art passed and I went to see you for grief counseling … and more, the way you cried with me meant the world to me, you listened with your heart not just your head.  I will always remember your kindness.  You helped me find my way in a turbulent time. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us all.  It made me cry as I remembered Art, April 10th he’s been gone 5 years.  God is close to the broken hearted and those crushed in spirit.  Thank you — I am a life changed because of you. March 29, 2017 – 10:53 amReplyCancel

    • Summer - Oh Joyce. . . I don’t have words. Thank you. Just thank you for your words. . .March 29, 2017 – 11:43 amReplyCancel

  • Jennie - You have given me such hope and validation with your words. It is coming up on 6 months ago that I lost my mom. One of my first thoughts were “I don’t know how to do life without her!” and like you I’m realizing somehow you just do. March 29, 2017 – 12:43 pmReplyCancel

    • Summer - Oh my. . . I am so so sorry for your loss and am sending big love and courage as you navigate this road, Jennie. And yes, you are so right. . . somehow, you just do.March 29, 2017 – 12:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Anna DS - A beautiful and wise, piece, Summer. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as they give me comfort as I think of family going through a deep loss. A big, virtual hug to you. March 29, 2017 – 4:57 pmReplyCancel

    • Summer - Thank you, Anna. I’m sending you a great big hug back and wishing your family all the love and healing in the world. xoxoxoMarch 29, 2017 – 8:37 pmReplyCancel

  • Kat - Thank you for continuing to share from the depths of your heart. Loving you from Btown.March 30, 2017 – 5:47 amReplyCancel

    • Summer - Thank you, Kat.
      Sending much love right back to you.March 30, 2017 – 9:24 amReplyCancel

  • Kate - Your words are always so eloquent. You are a strong woman and one that I find to be quite inspirational. Thank you for sharing your life, the good and the bad.March 30, 2017 – 5:39 pmReplyCancel

    • Summer - Thank you, Kate. I appreciate that very, very much.April 3, 2017 – 10:52 amReplyCancel

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