Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Getting on the bus...and off the roller coaster

I'm sorry I haven't been around lately.  You see, I lost my mother in March, and it's been hard to focus on sewing or writing.  When I do write, I get lost in emotion.  The endless photo search just results in waves of silent tears, and then surrender.  Even when I'm trying not to think at all, everything seems to remind me of her.  Even weird, silly things that you wouldn't expect.

Like today when I put Big Boy on the school bus.

The bus driver told us today is her last day.  I was exasperated -- only because we haven't had the same driver for more than a few days as at a time since the school year started.  Every time the school system switches drivers, the bus usually misses our house.  After two or three days in a row of calling to remind them, they finally get on track.  By then, someone quits or gets sick and they're ready to switch drivers again. Until this one:  We'd been blessed with this young woman for nearly three months!

Anyway, Momma used to be our "school bus watcher."  In fact, the first indication I had of how drastically she had slipped during the course of one sad overnight was when she was too sick to get out of bed and watch for the bus.  That might not sound like a big deal if you didn't know her well, but my mother was an incredibly proud, determined person.  She wanted to do things to be helpful, and she knew that having a responsibility drove her to keep going.

When I balked at Momma's suggestion that she should sweep the floors, she insisted on being the designated laundry folder.  Bitty's chore was to empty the dryer and push the basket to her chair.  They made quite a team.

Momma also knew me and my weaknesses -- like the fact that I'm forever running late.  So each day, she trudged dutifully from the bedroom to the dining room, where I delivered her coffee and she kept an eye out for the bright yellow flash of color through the trees that hailed the coming bus.

That unprecedented February morning, she gave in to her headache and weakness.  Twenty-four hours later, our world changed dramatically as her brain tumors proved themselves more than just shaded areas on a film.

Momma also helped Big Boy with his reading at night.  She proved a more patient coach than I.

Now Bitty watches for us.  He, too, needs to feel important, and it keeps him out from underfoot when I'm scurrying around trying to get SuperHusband and Big Boy out the door.  He wasn't very reliable at first, but yesterday he made the difference between us missing the bus and making it!  He's getting so big, I guess I'll have to change his nickname soon.

Anyway, back to the bus driver.  Momma and I used to critique the various drivers on how they navigated our small cul-de-sac.  This most recent queen-of-the-three-point-turn seemed safest and had won the Gran stamp of approval.  So with the news our driver was quitting, I had a fleeting moment's thought of "I have to tell Momma."  After a month without her, that still happens 10 or more times a day.  I wonder how long it will last.  

Easter 2012 - She was beginning to get strong again!

I promise I'll get back to posting about sewing and quilting -- though with less frequency for a time.  Much of my time and attention is consumed with the details of closing out a life.  It's hard.  And it feels wrong to try to neatly tie up the tendrils of a person who impacted so many through her various journeys in service and leadership.  Working through the details of her estate keep her memory immediate -- as does living in our home where she was so vibrant and loved.

I adore this picture of her from Christmas with all my guys dressed in their specially-made car ties for church.  She's all like, "Can you believe this zoo?"

People outside our family have been so supportive while we rode this roller coaster of cancer and treatment, success and failure, sickness and health, with the only relief coming through faith and prayer.  I don't know how we would've made it without the support of so many:  Her wonderful friends in her hometown, her amazing church family in Kentucky, our compassionate and tireless congregation here in Florida.  Through their emotional and logistical support, these people have quite literally sustained her -- and me -- through the last hazy year and a half. 

So, too, have we felt the contributions of our Air Force family -- SuperHusband's bosses granted him tremendous flexibility over the last few months and my professional network took great pains to keep me from being mobilized for deployment last year while I fulfilled my family responsibilities.  Multiple Air Force Reserve colleagues volunteered to take my place last fall.  Those people can't know the depth of gratitude I feel toward them.

The words don't ever seem to be enough.  There's so much more I should say...about her, to those who loved her, to those whom she loved.  I know I can't get it right.

Over the coming weeks, as I work my way back into the tasks and projects that have always given joy and purpose to my world, I hope to share a glimpse into the last couple of months with her.  We knew, beginning a few days before Christmas, that we were suddenly working on a very short timeline.  I tried to create as many opportunities to share moments with her -- both for us and others -- as we could, but I didn't want to take the time away then to document them.  I won't showcase her illness, but I want to share the joy of knowing someone who lived such a life.

Finally, thank you for being an awesome reader.  Despite my five-week dry spell, you're still here.  God bless you and keep you in his care.