Friday, August 23, 2013

25 Years...The Anti-versary

Mom playing on the shores of Interlochen, Summer of 62'
25 years. Typically you hear those words combined with a wedding anniversary or a birthday or some other sort of celebration.  It's not so often you hear it spoken as it relates what I'm deeming as the "Anti-versary but that's what I'm doing here today.  You see, 25 years ago today, my Mom was taken from this Earth.  God called her home in a way none of us could have ever imagined. I still, 25 years later can't fathom how this has all happened...

I've written about my Mom before on this blog of mine.  Here.  Here. And Here. (Oh heck, just go to the Mom label if you want to read more :)  

I've talked about who she was and how much I miss her.  Today I want to get a little more raw. Because that's just how it is right now. Raw.

My feelings have been erupting this Summer and for the longest time, I couldn't figure out what it was. A busy everyday life, raising 2 kids, keeping the, none of that quite brings the "raw" out in me. And then it hit. This was the 25th year.  The "Anti-versary." The one I've dreaded.  (What is it with me and those numbers anyway?!)

I haven't always been vulnerable with my grief. I like to do it in my own time when no one is around. I've been through many therapy sessions and I still have trouble just unleashing the fury of this pain.  I try to tuck it away and pretend it's not there. I mask it with a happy face when all I want to do some days is just scream my "WHY?" so the entire Earth can hear it. 25 years later and the wound is so fresh and open and real.  I'd like to say it gets easier, but somehow it's just doesn't. I want it to, I really do, but then I remember that there is absolutely nothing that could possibly fix this...that could bring her beautiful face back to this Earth. And sometimes I REALLY need my Mama. And she's not there. But I keep moving. One foot forward each day. Grieving periodically but ultimately remembering her spirit, her laugh, her voice, her penmanship, her cooking; HER LOVE.  So much love.  I have moved through my grief cycle but on this particular "anti-versary" the anger and denial feel like they are in heaving full force.

Last night I had the opportunity to do a little meditation centered around my Mom. Curtis was out of the house visiting with a friend and the kids were in bed.  I decided to pull out some old photo albums. The ones that have been tucked away for years just wishing someone would crack them open.  I read the special book that my Nana made for me with stories and pictures of her younger and happier days.  I wept as I read that book. Then I got mad. Mad because she was so brutally taken. Mad because she's not here to witness all of the wonderful things going on in my life. Mad because she'll never know her grandchildren or her adult daughters.  Mad because I should have never had to endure this pain since I was a mere 4th grader.  It's just.simply.not.fair. I am not going to sugarcoat that and I think you can understand why.  Losing anyone that is close to you is significant. It's heavy. It's unfathomable. It leaves a hole that will never be repaired.  I walk around with a huge wound on my heart that is just simply not going to close up.  Ever.

After I got mad (trust me, it took some time to get that out!) I started really combing through the pictures. Taking time to relish her smile, her emotions, her mannerisms.  I felt her staring back at me in those photos just like she was here today.  I prayed, as I always do, that God would grant me some peace. "....Like a River for my Soul..." The kind that surpasses all understanding. The kind that has made me this 34 year old Mother of 2, that has somehow persisted navigating through these murky waters that make up such a profound loss.  Because truly, it's faith and peace and hope that has sustained me and it's those things that will continue to do so.  So, I asked God for PEACE.

I found a letter that my Dad and Nancy had written to my sorority when I was a pledge.  It was a letter they had to address to me during my inauguration week. This paragraph that my Dad wrote brought me to my knees.

"Life wasn't fair for you, Emily.  You were only nine when your Mom died. Her death was a great loss and a life changing event for all of us. There isn't any easy way to get through and live with the death of a parent but somehow you managed to survive.  
In fact, you did more than survive, you began to blossom in spite of your pain." 

It reminded me of a quote by Hope Edelman: 
"I truly believe that the death of my mother has made me the way I am today. I am a survivor, mentally strong, determined, strong-willed, self-reliant, and independent." 

Here I sit, a survivor.  A blossomed flower that is still navigating these waters.  These sometimes-all-consuming muddy and ugly waters. It's not always pretty. I try not to let it harden me even though I know it has in many respects.  I know Mom would want me to move on with my life and enjoy what I have here despite her 25 year absence.  
I've always maintained that I would do just that and honor HER for the life that she gave ME 34 years ago.  

As I finished up my meditation I walked out on the deck to take in some fresh air.  It was a gloomy and rainy day here yesterday, but the sun was clearly doing it's beautiful thing in the West. The sky was a radiant pink and red just the way Mom loved it. And then there it was...PEACE. I felt such calm and reassurance. She's here, perhaps not in a physical sense, but she's with me always.  

I am who I am because of her.  

In her life and in her death.

Happy Anti-versary, Momma. I Love You

My post-script is a moving letter that was written by my Mom's co-workers at Klingman's, where she was a designer at the time of her death.  I love to read this note, because it perfectly sums up who she was to those that loved her

Christine Ann Hoekstra Lamberts
May 29, 1948- August 23, 1988

Some people we quickly forget. But others leave an incredible mark on our lives just because of a few attributes.  We see them at work and we may be down that day or maybe they too have some bad news but soon there is something to share and smile about.  Their neat attire makes you aware that they like who they are and where they are.  There is a beautiful scent when they are near.  They know how to work hard but just as importantly they know how to laugh---the deep chuckle kind. When these people are gone they leave an ache in our hearts and we truly miss them but thank God they came our way once for we are better for having known them.
Sometimes we'll think of her gentle smile,
her mischievous laugh.
We'll think of the elegant way she walked.
Some of us remember a funny thing she once said, or did.
"Remember the time Chris..."
Some of us think of her everyday.
And we think of her family especially
her 3 girls, and we'll pray for them.
She'll never be forgotten here.