Happy Birthday Mom.

Today she would be 67.  Born Linda Dianne Hawkins, she was my mother for 33 years of my life.  It seems so short when I type it, and seems rather unfair.  But, through some very dark long years, I have made my peace with it.  I dare not wallow in the why because I will never know.  

In her memory, my brothers and I all have an angel tattooed on our chest, over our hearts.  I'm not sure she would like to be memorialized that way, but she is our angel.  There have been times when I have heard her speak to me very clearly.  Not in an outloud kind of way, but in a spirit to spirit kind of way.  Think that's weird?  Yea, so did I.  

We think we have things all figured out.  But after Mom died, I realized I had very little figured out.  And most likely never will figure most things out.  One thing I did figure out: I could no longer live life as I had been.  Everything changed.  The building of my life imploded and I had to pick through the rubble deciding what to keep, if anything, and what to rebuild.  This has been a very long and sometimes very painful process.  

They say time heals all things.  I don't think it's just time.  Many people have had lots of time and are still bitter about what has happened in their lives.  I also think it's a choice.  I knew that bottoming out and spiraling into that deep dark hole of grief did nothing to honor my mother's life.  At times crawling and scratching, I made my way through and out of the darkness.  

I scan my heart for remnants of pain.  Yes, I miss her.  Yes, I would give pretty much anything to have her back, even for a day.  But the fresh pain is healed over.  I don't exactly know when, but I know it has.  My emotions carry a huge scar, a reminder, but I don't live there anymore.  I know the story, but I don't live the story.  

Dark nights of the soul are part of us, but they don't need to define us.  I am thankful for all that she taught me. I am grateful for the many people she impacted in her life.  I am honored by the love she bestowed on me while she was here.  I could not have had a better mother for me.  I carry all the love with me that she generously gave to others, while never making us feel neglected.  

I always thought she balanced between the physical and spiritual worlds more than any person I knew.  She lived in the light and was not afraid of the darkness.  I saw her walk in and rescue people from the dark many times.  She never gave up, not once.  She always believed in us.  When she talked to you, she knew you.  She knew the mailman, the grocery clerk, the homeless man in the park.  And she prayed.  Always and forever praying.  

Our home was filled with warmth and laughter.  Though we did not have a ton of material things, she was always there, and we always had enough.  Things got difficult during her sickness for our family, but the one thing I remember is that she and Dad were friends.  No matter what happened, that never changed, because they always loved each other.

If you would have told me twenty years ago this is how my life would unfold, I would not have believed it.  Living life without a parent is difficult, I'm not gonna lie.  I can't tell you how envious I am of people who can call their parents and go to lunch.  I don't have that luxury anymore.  No matter how amazing Mom was, she is physically gone.  And that cannot be undone.  

So in honor of her, love.  Dream.  Find the beauty in the world, because it is there.  Listen to the music, because she always did.  She instilled a fierce independence in us, and never held back on her love.  We should not either.  If she had something to say, she would tell you, no matter if you were the CEO or the janitor.  Make sure the ones you love know it.  Live your truth and be authentic.  

I remember her voice, her warm hands.  That crazy curly hair.  Her love of snow.  A warm, tidy home, with something always cooking or baking.  Her love of words, and writing.  Daily music in the house because she constantly played the piano and sang. She loved antique jewelry and old books.  She was firm, never raised her voice, but kind.  What she said, she meant.  She left me with so many words of wisdom, I keep many of her notes close at hand to read when I need some encouragement.  

I wish I could hug her one more time, or see her smile.  I wish she could know her grandchildren, and her great granddaughter, Audree.  Little miss Audree is the first girl to be born in my immediate family since me.  I have a suspicion this little one may carry some of the essence of my mother's spirit with her.  In her little face, she carries the wisdom of the ages.  

Of all the cards we received at her memorial, this is the one I still keep with me to this day, and how I choose to remember her:

Happy Birthday Mom!!  I love you!  


BestThings: Late Wednesday Edition

I am so happy today.  Silly happy today. And I got a VERY late start, not even getting up until after nine. But that's because, well, I had a very full, fun day yesterday.

Cleaning. I started off the morning cleaning.  As one of my part-time jobs, I agreed to take on cleaning one of my friends' houses for her a couple of times a month.  We worked out our terms and I spent 3.5 hours yesterday sweeping, mopping, cleaning floors and bathrooms.  I got a great work-out in!  And, because I was using a Shark to clean the floors, it was like being in a sauna all day long.  My skin looks amazing and I might have sweated out about five pounds.  Nothing wrong with hard work. I was so glad I didn't shower before.  But seriously, I was super-happy to be of service and put my cleaning skills to use in my friend and her family's home because your home is important.  And I know if mine is not clean, I can't seem to focus on much else.  It's good for us creatives to have order, but we don't always like doing it ourselves.  So pay someone else to do it and everyone benefits!  

Late lunch.  I drove home and took a quick shower, which made me about 15 minutes late for a lunch I scheduled with a friend from elementary/jr. high.  I knew she would be glad I showered so I took the extra time.  Anyway, we talk a lot on Facebook, but decided to meet in the real world and finally got it nailed down.  We met at one of my favorite cafes, Costello's Travel Caffe.  I had the most delicious roast beef sandwich with cheese and horseradish.  And, you can get gluten-free bread on any sandwich.  It was awesome!  We had a great time catching up on the years over lunch and decided we would meet periodically.  So good!  Of course I had to take a gluten-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookie home with me.

Books.  I love books.  I always have, and always will.  I have stack of them waiting to be read.  Well, actually, stacks of them, to be accurate.  I've been reading some personal growth books so I decided to take a break and go to Barnes & Noble and find a bargain fiction book.  And so I did.  Bellman & Black, by Diane Setterfield.  I had read her other book and enjoyed it, so I knew this was the one.  I read a few pages last night before falling asleep and I think it's going to be good.

Lyft. Always interesting.  I picked up a guy from Chicago at the Dollar Tree at Lloyd Center (???).  Yea, I don't know how he got there either but he kept talking about getting lost, so who knows.  Super-nice guy, so I dropped him off and headed back home.  I had another ride request and was on my way but it was cancelled.  I decided to do a few errands, and then drive down to the area around 8th & Burnside and see if I could pick up some passengers. I was sitting in my car reading my book on a side street most likely looking like a weirdo, when a request for a ride a few blocks away came in.  Off I went.  I  picked up a few guys from a bar and took them home.  But, one gets out and the other stays with me and we head on to Mississippi St.  Next thing I know, we're having a beer together.  Good thing I agreed to it, because he left his phone in my car.  We shared some time and conversation, and who knows, maybe we'll get together again in the future outside of Lyft.  I'm down.  And, I did give him my awesome business card, instead of just a number in a phone, so he knows how to get in touch.  Plus, he gave me the best tip ever.  Easily my best passenger experience to date.  I don't normally do that when working, but for some reason, saying yes seemed like the right thing to do.  Super-cool guy.

They say the Universe reflects back to you the degree to which you are open in regards to love.  And I'm not even talking about romantic love, just being in love with life.  And I would have to say this is true, based on the experiences I have been having with all kinds of people these days.  I am beyond excited to be going on a road trip this weekend, to see my best friend and my dad.  More adventures await!