Vivid Mommy

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Breast Cancer, Chooch, Dizzy, Dizzy, Family, Friends, Mom, No Whining, Too Long For Twitter, Vestibular Migraine

Just like millions of other people, Mother’s Day is a rough one for me because my mother is deceased. I’m also a mom, which makes it a very bittersweet day. When you add that this year, for what I recall as the first time in 20 years, I won’t see any of our kids, it ensured that I’d be avoiding social media and anywhere that I’d be inundated with the message that I don’t want to be reminded of. Yep, I’m bitter. Then I realized I hadn’t checked in on friends since yesterday and decided to check Twitter and make sure all was well.

As expected, there was a deluge of Mother’s Day wishes being exchanged. One that really touched me was by friend and author Mur Lafferty: “PT has made me toast and yogurt and a can of selzer and brought it to me in bed. “i didn’t know how to make coffee.” I nearly cried.”

On the other end of the spectrum, brand new dad Cheyenne Wright posted “A bit out of sorts. This is the first chance I’ve had to celebrate a Mothers Day in 18 years.”

That one got me right in my vulnerable spot. I closed Twitter as I realized my dizziness had kicked in with an anxiety attack and now-standard accompanying trembles. It was not at all surprising if you understand my current health situation, and I cursed myself for logging in. My husband unwittingly helped my through the brunt of the symptoms (Hey Chooch, this is why I was upset earlier), but I still feel the need to share something about my Mom today. I don’t do this easily because:

  1. I’ve been told in extremely loving ways that I need to try and move on from grieving her as I do, out of concern that it may be unhealthy;
  2. I’ve been accused of talking about my Mom and/or my health issues to garner sympathy for some unknown purpose, either witnessed by me or as reported by others;
  3. I’m not entirely sure Mom would approve of what I want to share.

To those from item 1, I say a sincere thank you for your concern. But my highly remarkable Mom left a massive hole in my world, and it is simply taking a long time for me to heal. In some ways, I never will because I will always miss her. That’s simply the price of having a jewel like her for a Mom, and I’m willing to pay it. Know that I’m making progress and doing the best that I can, and you should feel free to delete any message, change the subject, or ignore any posts. I expect nothing from you when the need arises for me to talk about her.

To those from item 2, I say without hesitation ~ kiss my ass. You don’t understand me now and never did, regardless of what you may believe. Yes, yes, I know, “Never feed a troll,” as it only encourages them. But I’m tired of not defending myself when I’m being vilified and disrespected to those I care about. So I’m using this post to “balls up” and remind myself that my Mom didn’t raise me to be a doormat. In fact, she specifically counseled me on the need to stand up to some of the aforementioned “item 2” people. I feel no guilt over including this paragraph, because they will only be identified to themselves and to those that they’ve trash talked about me. It’s unlikely that most of them will ever read this, except for some that may be looking for ammunition, but this is my little corner of the internet and I’m tired of censoring myself when others won’t.

And for item 3, I mean that Mom would probably not like this picture because she’s not wearing makeup. She was intensely self-conscious and hid from cameras most of my life. I’m posting it anyways, because later in life she embraced her silly side in fantastic fashion and stopped running from cameras. Also, it’s one of my very favorite pictures of her, as it documents a very special moment in our lives.

The tiny hair clips were part of her 60th birthday gift from me. I had gotten a basket and decorated it with silk flowers and ribbons and filled it with brightly colored hair clips, ponytail holders, barrettes, hair bands and a tiara. I wanted to celebrate that the chemo for her newly diagnosed breast cancer wouldn’t make her hair fall out like it did when she battled it in ’91, and it was insanely fun (and cathartic) to pick them out in the girl/teen accessory section.

When we realized that some of the little clips matched her vibrantly colored shirt, my sister put her hair in the little twists that my then-early-teenaged nieces were known to wear for a time, and we couldn’t resist snapping a picture of the spontaneous hairstyle and her reaction to it. A few months later her chemo was changed because it wasn’t working, and her hair promptly fell out. Two and a half years later she was gone.

But I present you with photographic evidence that my Mom was highly remarkable. Even when faced for a second time with the same life-threatening disease that she watched eat away at her mother and grandmother until there was nothing left of them, she was still able to laugh. And when presented with a gift that in hindsight may have unkindly brought the cancer back to the forefront of her mind, she giggled and was delightfully silly. As only she could be.

I won’t exaggerate and say it was Great Bravery or Courage documented in this moment, because it wasn’t. It was just a silly and spontaneous moment. And damned if it’s not one of the most treasured moments of my life. Isn’t she glorious?
Funnest Mom Evah!

This post is written to honor my Mom, Nat, Jaimie, Terry and Zach ~ five people who are no longer with us that are at the forefront of my mind. The first three I miss terribly. The fourth and fifth I never met, but because of their impact on people that I dearly love, I desperately wish I had. You are missed.

The Fifth Mother’s Day

Author: chooch  //  Category: Family, Friends, Kids

The need to write this post came about as I was editing the latest episode of my new podcast, Girls’ Rules. I was yet again awestruck by my luck in meeting such intelligent, eloquent and creative women over the last few years. This isn’t the first time I’ve reflected on this. It was, after all, the impetus for starting the podcast. But this time my thoughts went down another path, one I’ve not truly explored before. I was reminded of something that my friend Paulette said recently, which was that she wished she could have met my Mom because she sounded … (Okay, truth? I have to confess that I was so overwhelmed at Paulette saying this that I don’t remember what she said beyond that.).

It took my breath away, and I was unsteady for a moment in contemplation of Mom’s presence in my current life. Sitting here I feel it again. Is it sadness, gratitude or rage that I’m filled with this time? So many things that Mom has missed out on, not just seeing my current life, but more importantly the birth of her first great-grandchild as well as three of her beloved grandchildren graduating from high school. I celebrate loudly and passionately with my family at these things, but quietly and painfully miss her as these things occur. Luckily, my husband is always willing to lend me his shoulder to cry on and hold me tight until it passes.

But hearing Paulette say that was a different thing entirely. It’s been marinating in the back of my mind since then as I chatted with extraordinary women on the phone, in real life or on the internet.  In recent years, I’ve met women that Mom would have adored. Whether because of their intelligence, creativity, nurturing spirit, raw talent, quick wit, or not-so-secret identity as a force of nature. I know she would have adored them, because she held my best friend of 22 years in her heart as if she were another daughter. When she saw the extraordinary, she appreciated it.

I also know that had she met some of my new friends, and one inspirational male in particular comes to mind, that she would have finally written the book that she always wanted to write. Mom was a creative spirit, and she had many different outlets. She loved to paint and draw and had a true gift for it. She was also a talented writer, but she “never had time” to invest any real time in it. I think it was something she was putting off until retirement, as her work and family kept her so very busy. I imagine that she would have taken up the NaNoWriMo challenge with Chooch and I the last two years, and I know that she would have won both years as she both loved a challenge and thrived on deadlines.

I’d say the place where she always made time for her creativity was her garden. Flowers growing everywhere, for at least three seasons of the year. It was as if she bent nature to be her palette, creating colorful displays for anyone that walked by to see. I equate spring flowers so completely with her, that the first spring after she passed I was inexplicably furious and looked away from any flowers that dared to bloom without her here to appreciate them. Thanks to the unknowing and loving act of a  wonderful sister-in-law, that has passed.  I now look to each spring with great excitement over every flower that displays its’ beauty for the world to enjoy. I look forward to having my own patch of dirt scratched out for me to play in someday.

But I keep coming back to that unwritten book of hers, and I’m left with wondering what she would have written. I found a few hundred words on her hard drive of a story she had started, and I think she was off to a great start on fiction. She also had expressed interest in telling the story of her very colorful and difficult childhood. That’s the story I wish she had written, as it was the one that shaped her into who she was. Remembering some of her stories it would have been a fascinating read, for me at least.

And in case you’re wondering, you would have adored my Mom. She was the purest form of awesome, and her imperfections lent humanity to her otherwise bigger-than-life heart. Happy Mother’s Day, Pocket Mom. All my love, Marshmar.