Just Feels it is Sometimes — In Loving Memory of My Mother
While growing up one tends to gain certain annoyances with their mother that seem to irk them like nothing else in this world can. For me, it was the way my mother chewed potato chips while sitting at the kitchen table reading a book. Completely oblivious to the CHOMP, CHOMP, CHOMPING of each bite resonating my eardrums. Like soldiers marching through a field of crunchy grass. But I would never tell her this. And I couldn’t stand the way she said the word “poem” as if there were too many E’s in it. Or when she’d burst through my bedroom door on a Saturday morning; me, dead to the world — her, singing Let Me Call You Sweetheart or You Are My Sun Shine as loud as she could. The torture mechanisms mothers possess can be agonizing to the teenager’s agenda.
But what I hated even more was when all I wanted to do was to sit in my bedroom alone and read a book, and she’d sweetly knock on my door with a story to tell me. Most likely one I’d heard before, a few hundred times. It usually started with a story about a customer she had at work the night before. Her words wrestling behind her teeth, waiting to be released the second the door opened. She’d stand there for what felt like forever, telling her story. Giggling like a little school girl; eyes gleaming with excitement like two shiny pearls in the glow of the moon light. It was as if her words were heavy weights she couldn’t bear to carry any longer. All the while I secretly wished she’d go back upstairs to whatever it was she was doing, so that I could get back to being alone. But one story always led to another, and another, and another. I didn’t realize at the time that with these stories she was building her legacy.
Now I’d give anything to have all of those ridiculous things back. I’d give anything to sit across the table from her while she so gracefully chewed on her potato chips. I’d listen to her talk about “poeems” for hours. If I could have one more chance to sit in my bedroom and hear her coming down those stairs to tell me her stories, I’d meet her at the door; because that would mean she was still here to tell them. And when she’d burst through my bedroom door in hopes of waking me with her song, I’d jump right out of bed and chime in. Singing along, two dissonant voices in unison.
There are so many things I miss about my mom. It’s funny how the things that drove me crazy are now some of the things I think about the most. I often feel bad for disliking anything at all about her; especially such silly, irrelevant things. If I knew back then how short our time together would be, I would have recognized these things as treasures instead of vexation. More than ever I find myself wishing I could stop by her apartment on my lunch break to vent about my new job and how stressful it is; or to hear her tell me another story I’ve already heard a million times before; or to just hear her laugh. To see that glimmer in her eyes as she spoke with such enthusiasm, reliving every story as she told it.
It’s been 649 days and it hasn’t gotten much easier since the first day without her. Some days I smile with the thoughts of her. I remember things about her that make me laugh or make me proud to have had such an incredible person to call “mom.” I remember the silly quirks that made her unique. Like how she was a horrible driver, but had this beautiful ability to laugh at herself.
Other days my eyes leak with abandoned sorrow a pain in search of something to grasp onto; a sort of understanding as to how someone so amazing could leave us so soon. Tears flowing like song birds escaping their cages from an unattended open door. Like this is what they’ve lived their whole lives waiting for. These tears have found a home right behind my eyes, where the slightest invitation makes them soar from their cages. Sometimes the smallest thing brings flight to this pain. And it’s always difficult to recapture composer once it’s set free.
Some days I’m afraid this feeling will never leave me, and other days scared to death it will. As time goes on, the realization that she’s not here becomes more and more evident. I search for anything to tell me she’s still here. I search for anything to tell me where she might be now.
But in the smallest of ways she is certainly still here. When I walk by the common down town and hear an orchestra playing Let Me Call You Sweetheart, I hear her voice waking me up on a late Saturday morning. When my sisters and I have our picture taken together outside of the venue we celebrate Brianne’s baby shower at, there is a beam of light across the picture as if she’s giving her a big, congratulatory hug. When I find the three matching wine glasses to the single one she gave me for Christmas the year before she passed away, at a second-hand store for only 50 cents each (right after thinking to myself, I should have a full set of wine glasses!) I know it’s her saying “I saw these and thought of you.”
Her legacy lives on in many ways, and not just in the ones that seem so evident as these. She’s in the stories I tell people about her. She’s in the excitement I express when I tell them. Her breath is every word resting on my tongue, forming a line behind my teeth, waiting it’s turn to be released. Her eyes are the moon and the stars are the glimmer they always held. She’s in the wild flowers I pass on the highway on my way home from work on a hot summer day. The ones I’m always so tempted to stop and pick because they make me think of her; and how if she were with me, we would.
In the days after her death I went through boxes of memories; pictures, letters, notes and artwork to and from my mother. I came across one note I now keep hung by a magnet on my refrigerator door. A note written on a tiny, white piece of paper that simply says, “Jamie, the world isn’t all bad. Just feels it is sometimes.” Finding this note was something I needed more than ever during the times after her passing, and still look to when I’m feeling particularly down. I have no idea what the initial problem was resulting in this note, but reading it felt like it was meant for the sorrow that came with losing my mother. She always had this way of making everything feel better, even when wasn’t. It was as if she knew this big secret that few people know. A secret on how to ignore the bullshit other people throw your way and just laugh it all off. She’d bounce around like nothing phased her; smile as wide as the sunset, hair bopping with every step. It was rare to see anything get her down, and when something did you knew it was big. She knew there was more out there than the pettiness life serves us sometimes. Without her I tend to forget that sometimes life just feels bad. And sometimes the things we think we despise most about someone are the things we hold onto the tightest when they’re gone. The things that bring them back to us.