Monday, August 16, 2010

The Other Shoe

Well, Mom... it's been almost a month now. I keep waiting for it to hit me that you're gone. For the last few years your input into my life has been somewhat parenthetical, so my daily life hasn't really been impacted by your death. I've done a pretty good job of playing the mature adult daughter grounded in her faith when it comes to dealing with everything. I can talk the talk... but for how long before the other shoe falls and I can't walk the walk? I feel it creep up on me some times. The other day I came across the birthday card you sent me, which you obviously mailed before we headed back to Texas after our visit so it would be here when we got back. You addressed it and signed it... and then it hits me that I will never get another card addressed in your handwriting, and the tears start to well up in my eyes. But that was it... a welling of the eyes.

I can’t count how many times already I have come across something – a picture, a joke, a new thing or one of the kids has been extraordinarily adorable - and thought “I have to share this with Mom.” You were my best friend and if I shared anything with anybody other than Wayne, it was with you. Who do I share those things with now? You were the only person I would ever call just to talk. I frustrate my friends and lead them to assume horrible things because I don’t like making phone calls (Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. It’s silly and irrational, but it just is.) But I loved talking to you on the phone. It would drive Wayne crazy some times. He would get lost in Call Waiting Hell trying to call home when he was leaving work because I was talking to you, and I would still be talking to you when he got home. And he would have to make dinner and serve the kids without me because we were still talking. I just thought of what we should put on your tombstone! “Just one more thing, and then I’ll let you go…” If I had a dime for every time that was uttered in one of our phone conversations, Wayne could retire!

Yesterday it started to hit me at church. We were sitting reflectively during the offertory (that’s a word YOU taught me) listening to Stephen play the piano. I can’t even remember now what the song was, but it was one I’ve heard a thousand times since my childhood sitting in the pew at Bethel Baptist Church on Springport Road with my head in your lap while you played with my hair. Those were some of the most peaceful moments of my life feeling your fingers stroking my hair, the strains of Baptist hymns and your alto harmonizing dripping into my upturned ear like honey off a ripe honeycomb. I suppose it had to do with the fact that I have been listening to YOU play the piano all week as I work on copying the CD you recorded ten years ago. But there was something about the way Stephen was caressing the keys, there with my eyes closed sitting on that pew I heard YOU playing. My mind drifted to the Mother’s Day when you and Dad came to see Elysse’s baptism, and you played the offertory that day. Or the Sunday when you played and we sang together Bill Gaither’s “Because He Lives” which you arranged to include a chorus of “Jesus Loves Me” so Elysse could sing while I held Veronica. That was Mother’s Day also. And then my mind wandered to what you were doing right then. Were YOU playing the piano at that moment? Were you in His presence giving Him a command performance? How grand was the piano you were playing? Were you playing an intimate concert just for Him, or were you accompanying a choir of angels?

And then it hit me… and the buttresses started to crack, and the dam started to heave as a trickle of tears started to flow through the crack. I scrambled to pull things back together and stop the leak. And I would have made it if I hadn’t stopped in the ladies room to dab my eyes and ran into Nancy Barker in there – God bless her soul. She asked me how I was doing, and she hugged me… and the buttresses cracked a little more, and the wall gave a greater heave, and more tears started to flow. The dam didn’t burst, but the buttresses are crumbling. How much longer before the infrastructure fails and a small village downstream or the checkout lady at Walmart is completely wiped out in the massive flood that ensues? Maybe I should get a bright orange reflective tee shirt and have printed on it “Warning! Flood Waters Rising! Maintain a Safe Distance!”

I know that it’s coming. I’ll be relieved when it does as long as it doesn’t happen in the middle of church, or in the frozen foods aisle of Walmart (I imagine myself frozen to the Blue Bell ice cream section like a 10-year-old’s tongue to a stop sign at a Michigan bus stop in January), or in the middle lane of US-190 somewhere between Fort Hood and Copperas Cove at 70 mph. I hope it comes in a quiet moment alone with Wayne when he can hold me and let me cry… maybe even cry together. I can tell he knows it’s coming, too. He may even be a little surprised that it hasn’t hit yet, considering how I blubbered uncontrollably for a stupid dog twelve years ago. But it will come… eventually… and we’ll all have to be ready with buckets and towels to sop up the mess.

Love you, miss you,


  1. This is beautiful, Julie. You have expressed some of the feelings I had when my mom died. Still today I catch myself wanting to call to tell her something special that my kids or grandkids have done.

    When she had been gone about 3 years I was able to make a scrapbook of her life. I love to pick it up occasionally and enjoy the memories.

  2. Babe, this is awesome! Your mom would be so very proud of you. I love the fact that you are doing this and sharing your thoughts of your mom with me and your friends. Your writing is wonderful as well and should be in a book for others to read. I love you and if all the "other shoes" from the last 14 years (happy anniversary, by the way!) fall all at once.....well, I think that will be more than my old ticker can take. Reading your memories, bring back a lot of my own memories of my mom.....AND yours! MWAH

  3. Just one more thing...I love it. I also love how you are using this blog to work through your feelings of loss.

    2 years later, it still feels as if my dad left us yesterday. I still have him my speed dial and accidentally dial him without thinking when I need to be helped out of a jam.

    I can't imagine what you are going through with the loss of your mother, but I pray this God and this blog will give you peace.