A List of Regrets, and Non-Regrets

I wrote this post at Mother’s Day this year and I didn’t post it, like a lot of posts I suppose. So pardon me where it’s dated.

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It’s been almost a year since my mom passed away.  Some people are referred to as things like “saints” or described with overzealous use of the word “amazing”, but my mom was more deserving of words like these than anyone else I know.

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but she died right after some of the notable holidays we’d celebrate her – her birthday, which was May 5th, Mother’s Day which happens in just a couple of days, and her anniversary to my dad which is at the end of this month.  It’s good because we had this conglomerate of holidays to unknowingly appreciate her one last time last year.  Bad because right before the one-year anniversary, they all come traipsing through our lives one right after the other.

When she first died, I spent a lot of time being thankful that we didn’t have a lot of regrets in our family.  There were no harsh words, or unaddressed issues.  Nobody was out of touch, no arguments or lingering negativity.  Mom was my all time best friend, and I know how awesome that is to have that relationship.  And yet, time still has a way of reminding us of all the things we didn’t do.

I remember last Christmas, I got a selfie stick.  Mom was holding baby Nora at our house Christmas morning and I was playing with it.  I barely got her in but maybe 2-3 pictures because I knew she just didn’t care for being in pictures.  I noticed that several of our get together’s have been this way, devoid of sufficient pictures of her, and it makes me so mad.  I should’ve just taken the picture.  What I wouldn’t give to take in all of her last holidays.  Or to have more of her holding Nora that I could give to Nora when she gets older.  Or to have captured more moments of her sleepovers with the kids, or visits to the house.

I regret that I didn’t frame her master’s degree like I said that I would to celebrate her graduation.  I didn’t find the time to take it to get measured, and it ended up living in it’s own ill-fitting frame in her office.  I didn’t want to take it down, but I wish that I had because she deserved it.  She earned her master’s, along with her associates and bachelor’s degrees, well after an established career when she wasn’t even sure school could teach her anything new.  She taught me that you can always learn something new, and you should.  No matter how long it takes.

I regret the year that I didn’t ask her to come to the Extraordinary Women’s conference with me to volunteer.  I thought her knees would hurt and it would be hard, but I think she wanted to come anyway.  I wish that I would have made it happen; that was our thing.

I regret that I didn’t tell her I was pregnant with Nora secretly before anyone else knew.  I still remember when Robbie and I told her and my dad and she was in disbelief because she didn’t already know and, “Tanya tells me everything!” so how could she not already know?  I was so happy she felt that way, because it was true, and then instantly so sad that she would be disappointed by me waiting to tell her.  I would love to give her that one last big secret before anyone else.  She wasn’t disappointed, but I’ve always wished that I’d affirmed how much I share with her by sharing that sooner.

I regret that with all the times I called her, I didn’t call her twice as much, or three times as much, or even more.  She hated talking on the phone, but she didn’t mind my rambling every week.  I’d like to hear her voice again, saying anything at all.

I regret that I didn’t post on her Facebook wall for her birthday last year.  It wasn’t in my memories.  I called her and told her happy birthday, and of course we celebrated together.  But I don’t have that last message.  I know it’s not where well-wishes are most important, but I also know how much I would love to see her “thank you, I love you” replies on my birthday post for the last time.

I regret that I killed the plant she gave me promptly after she died – I’m really bad at plants.

I regret that I didn’t throw her any surprise birthday parties, or a surprise anniversary party.  I thought about it a million times and we could never seem to make it happen, or the days would approach us so quickly we’d run out of time.  I remember always thinking we had plenty of time and we’d get the next one, and that there was no rush.  I used to think that all the time about all kinds of plans.

But for all the things I regret, I try to remember all of the things I am so thankful that I don’t have to.

We didn’t have any unresolved arguments, there was nothing we needed to forgive, and nothing we needed to change.  We played each other competitively and loved it, and she was always there to help with the kids, or to just spend precious one-on-one time with them, giving them memories of creativity and joy that they will remember as long as they live.

I’m so glad I went on one of her work trips with her, and that before most people knew, mom knew about my tattoos on that very trip.  They’re such a small thing, but I know she loved that I told her.

I’m glad I knew the ways that she was proud of me, and that she left me with a lot of insight into making key decisions in life.  I’m glad we still played cards or sat at the kitchen table just chatting about whatever current events were going on every time I would go up to her house to see her.  I’m glad I still took time to visit her at work, even though I tried to keep the visits short.

I’m glad I always hugged and kissed her goodbye, and that we always said “I love you” every time we spoke.

I’ll always, always, be thankful that she developed her own special relationship with Luke, Natalie, Nora, and Robbie.  I’m so glad I get to share my love for her with my family.

I wish I could get her advice now, and that I could complain about things, laugh about things, invite her to things, lament over things.  Tell her about my work and my book and send her copies of report cards and honor rolls, school pictures, new baby words, and milestones.  I wish I could throw her a birthday party with all her family to fly in and see her as a surprise, or tell her a secret, or finally beat her in the Spades app (which I still can’t seem to do).

I know it sounds sad – a post full of regrets.  I think in loss, no matter what we do, there will always be some.  For me, it’s been hard to be so suddenly surprised by her death that I couldn’t have been expecting any less.  I don’t want to regret these kinds of things again, not with the people that are still here.  I want to plan the party, take the picture, share the secret, give the gift, take the leap.  I want to appreciate the numerous things I don’t regret missing with my mom, and to fill in the blanks where I comfortably live in the assumption that there is “no rush”. And only hope that God doesn’t mind passing on messages to the people we love and miss so much, because I sure would like to tell her that we’re okay, and she left us all happy and strong.

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Plans and Purpose

It is SO strange to see how life continues without all the plans my mom made for it.  Big things and little things.  My mom just graduated with her masters degree about a year ago.  She had these plans to put in a few more years where she worked and then retire and move on to a whole new adventure since she was so young, writing policies and what not.  It’s frustrating to me that she did all of this work and didn’t get to use it beyond the last year or two.

She was supposed to watch baby Nora when I went out of town for training on two different nights.  I was planning to stop by on my way out of town and leave far past when I was supposed to because I was going to catch her up on my week and hear about hers.

She had accepted invitations to events on Facebook, planning to support my little brother’s fundraiser for the fire station.

It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that we live our life expecting to see the next day every single day, and then one day we don’t have any more opportunities to fulfill our plans or our obligations.

It leaves me asking myself what the point of a lot of things is.  Not that I think life is pointless, but more that I don’t want to waste my time on frivolous things.  It makes me want to pursue and achieve my dreams as soon as I can, and fulfill the purpose that I believe I’ve been designed especially for.

More than ever, it makes me want to make each day count, and to constantly strive for that which is greater than me.

Two Weeks

It’s been two weeks tonight that my mom died quietly, painlessly, and very suddenly at home.  I got the call from my dad at approximately 11:09 p.m.  I thought I was being sleep dialed accidentally, and when I heard my dad struggle to find words, I thought maybe he’d woken from a dream and was being very sentimental.

Earlier that night, he had texted me to tell me how much he loved me, something sweet that happens occasionally.  But then he delivered the incredibly unexpected news and began a chain of events that have already begun redefining who I identify myself to be.

I had my moment to freak out, called my husband so I could center myself, called my best friend to watch our baby so I could go figure out what to do.  It was very interesting that with everything mom taught me how to do, she never taught me how to deal with the death of any of our family members, because there hasn’t been a lot of death around us.

I think it’s very interesting how calm you can become when it feels like it’s your responsibility to do so.  Being the oldest of the three of us, my role definitely felt more like the protector and the person who needed to not only have it together, but keep it together.  Somebody needed to take notes, make decisions, remember facts from the coroner and the funeral home and whatever else there was to do.  It automatically felt like my responsibility, which is not a complaint, just how it felt.

I wasn’t sure if I could handle seeing mom.  I had this terrible vision of her in pain, sad looking, hunched over or hurt.  I didn’t have any details about how she died, and we still only speculate that it was a brain aneurysm.  I was very afraid that my mind would picture her correctly and I’d never be able to un-see a tragic, terrible, scene.  But, how thankful I was that I did see her.  I was distraught, and I’ll never forget my husband holding on to me as we knelt down beside her, but I was so at peace.  She looked beautiful, peaceful, relaxed.  She looked like she just laid down and fell asleep, and I was so thankful for that reassurance.  Instead of being something I was scared I couldn’t un-see, it is something I hope I will never forget.

I’ve learned, observed, and realized a lot of things since then.  Many things I’d like to share here, but for this post, I will leave these memories here and build from them.

If you’re a guest and you found this post in a search, I don’t know how much help I can offer you by way of one on one discussion, but I hope over the next several weeks, months, and years, I can provide you some words of encouragement.