Sunday, December 13, 2009

Eulogy: part 2

Continued from part 1 (November)

Maybe she thought she didn't do anything special enough to need a funeral. Maybe she didn't want my mom to have to go to the expense. Or maybe because she'd lived long enough to see all her sisters, brother, parents and two loves die--she had just accepted that this was the next phase of her life and like she'd said, she was ready.

But still, I wish there had been that one last piece placed into the puzzle of her life--for me. I don't know if it would have been as much to say "goodbye" as to say, "I will never forget you."

That last time I saw her I knew it would be the last time and so there was this urgency. How do you encapsulate into a few words what has grown in your heart over a lifetime? She was propped up in the hospital bed she now spent every day in, just a few feet from a stranger in the next bed. This crazy, synthesized Christmas music was playing too loud in the halls. An alarm went off at the front doors as two orderlies grabbed an old woman as she tried to escape while crying, "Why can't I just go outside, I just want to go outside!?"

Seriously. It was too much for me. And there was my Baba. Just another old person waiting around to die. I wanted to take her out of there. I remember she told me, "They keep the lights on all night long."

I was desperate to tell her what I had known--with complete certainty--my entire life; that I loved her--just because she was my Baba. That she mattered to me and those little things she did, they were part of me.

It didn't turn out to be the deeply touching moment you are imagining. The crazy music, the women in the next bed staring and smiling at me--and me speaking really slow and loud--really loud. But I told her.

It was only about two months later, that she died. A day just like any other.

When my mom came to see my new baby boy--she brought me the last box--her engagement picture I'd framed for her one Christmas, the charm bracelet that had jingled around her wrist, the tiny blue pill box.

It has been ten years that I have wrestled with giving her a proper "goodbye". Her name was Lucy. Three years ago I named my daughter after her. Someday I'll get to tell Lucy about the woman I named her after. And now this is the second part of that "goodbye"--to put into words all the thoughts and memories of her that I have taken with me.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Truth About Me

It is easy to judge someone's spirituality from the outside--I know, 'cause I've done it. I did it a lot, especially when I was doing all the things "good Christians" are supposed to do.

Someone wouldn't be at church for a while, wouldn't come to an event, wouldn't volunteer for whatever--and I'd think, "hum, they must not be doing well." (I hate even writing that. But it's the truth.) I could even deceive myself into thinking that my only thoughts were of genuine concern--but really, it was a judgement--and I'd already decided--yes, they were not doing well or certainly they'd be "here" or "there" or signed up for something by now.

Now I am that person.

Don't misunderstand me. I am not saying "doing things" or being involved at church is bad. ( Judging those who are involved is just as bad as judging those who aren't!) I am just sharing something God showed me about myself.

It was not pretty. It did not feel good.

He showed me what was in my heart--the truth behind my thoughts. The truth behind my motives. It wasn't harsh. It was simply like I stepped in front of a large mirror and finally saw all that was there--not just a part. I remembered thoughts I'd had about certain people and conclusions I'd made--all on this scale of my works on one side and theirs on another--yuck!

I saw that all my life I'd been climbing this ladder--to obtain some position--whatever it was. To be liked, to feel good, to be important--the right crowd, the right boyfriend, the right sorority--and now here it was again--a different name but the same thing.

A question that has lingered in my head for five years now has been, "If no one were ever to see or recognize me for anything I ever did again--except God--would it be enough for me?" Just for Him and no one else. Led by His voice not by obligation or guilt. Led out of love for Him.

I am free in this place. Free to be myself--not who I think I should be. Free to respond from a true and honest place in my heart.

I don't ever want to go back. I have a healthy fear of ever falling back into that place again.

I know the truth about me. God has always known--and He still loves me--

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Disease

Sometimes, the hardest part of being a mom--for me--is just being still, being present in that one particular moment. To just sit and play with my kids. To stop whatever seemingly urgent task I am doing and just look them in the eye and listen. It's like I get sucked into this tornado of cleaning, folding, phone calling, emailing--and I can't stop.

It's my disease.

In my mind I tell myself this lie that says, "today I have to do this but tomorrow. . ." But the next day comes and it is a new pile or mess or errand. And most times even if I am physically sitting there, my eyes are scanning the room and mentally creating a list of what needs to be done all around me.

Yesterday, I sat down in Lucy's room and played restaurant. She would say "What u want? You want pizza?" After a few minutes of pretending to eat and sip my tea, I felt myself getting up--my thoughts completely shifted to the load of laundry I hadn't switched over. I had to snap myself out of it and tell my crazy-cleaning self, "no, you are playing now, remember?" I pushed my butt back into the tiny wooden chair and asked for some more tea.

See, crazy as it is, the hard part of having five kids isn't all the laundry or picking up--I can do that all day long-like a hamster in it's wheel going 'round and 'round. The hard part is to divide myself between five little people and give them a piece of myself that is genuine and present.

I can't tell you how many times people have told me, "You are so calm. You never seem stressed. That is why you can have five kids." I can tell you (and so can Steve) that that is a total lie. It is just the way I deal with stress--I go into task-mode and shut down emotionally. Translation: I get really quiet and clean like crazy. And more and more--especially after baby number five--that has been the mode I've operated in. And I hate it.

In my head, I know that someday when my kids think back about their childhood, they won't remember how clean the house was. But there it is staring at me, that crayon under the couch, that pen mark on the wall, that last cup in the sink.

In my heart I know what I want them to remember--how I was there--laughing, crying, playing. How I listened to them when they had a story to tell me--how ever long or short--how I was willing to act silly and be wrong sometimes and laugh at myself.

That is who I want to be right now. Not the lady in the background--with a sponge in one hand and a towel in the other.