Do you remember having your first “crush” on someone? Do you remember how old you were? I was only four years old when I had my first crush on a boy, he was nine years older than me. He was a cousin, but at four, who cares. Now grown, his job brings him to town pretty much every year and we always get together, been that way since 1977. He’s coming back. He wants to have a heart-to-heart. There are things he’d like to know more about, regarding family. I know it’s going to get personal. It’s going to get deep. Twenty years now, we’ve been getting together, I’ve always taken others along. Okay, this time, I’m going alone.
He has no idea. This year has brought so many life-changing realities to the table. So much emotion and drama going on, in every direction. The madness of all that has become “daily life” for so many of us now. Trying to deal with what’s in front of us, as well as, what is looming on the near horizon. The family life we’ve lived all these years has dramatically changed. Our lives have changed completely. He wants to talk about things from the past, but he has no knowledge of the craziness that is the present, for some of us. This will be difficult, the timing couldn’t be worse, for something I’ve wanted to do for a long time with him. He truly has no idea.
Shortly after I arrived at his hotel room, we decided to get brunch. We had the entire dining room to ourselves. It was just us and the waitstaff. We had deep conversation about family. Then, I told him about my reality. My mother’s last year of life was soon coming to an end, my sister’s still fighting to save her life, trying to help them both establish a sense of peace, with some things, before it’s too late. How divorce seems to be the only option to end the craziness for myself and my children, and still create some kind of “normalcy” for them in their daily lives. We spent hours sitting there talking about the “what’s” and the “what the f’s?” I told him things I’d never told anyone else before. Things I knew, that no one knew that I knew anything about. It was such a wonderful time, we had the rare chance to share that day, so privately.
Driving home, I thought about all the family memories and emotions we shared. I thought about how close we had become over the years. Not so easy to do, with his line of work. I thought about all the things we didn’t touch on, that I truly wanted to discuss with him too. But time goes by very quickly. An entire afternoon can seem like only moments. Afterall, he’s got contracts and obligations. There’s a long line of people waiting, for a little piece of him. His life is no longer his own. He has “people” now.
There was one thing I never told him about. I don’t believe I ever will. There are some things, perhaps, better left unsaid. There were far more important things going on, for me, than that anyway. He and I have shared a great deal over the years, many things have taken place in both our lives. Sitting in the drive, I was totally consumed by the emotions of all that was reality around me. He really had no idea.
A few weeks later, my grandmother passed away. There was a great deal going on with that, amongst her children. She and I had a special bond, she lived with us for most of my life. Then, eleven days later, I lost my mother. I thought about some of the things my cousin and I shared. I felt compelled to write to him. So, the next chance I got, I did. With the kids off to school, I took paper and pen in hand….and I began to write. The words coming out, just flowing together the way they did, took me by surprise. Those personal moments we shared, I wanted to share the aftermath of some of it with him, so here’s how my letter to a Rockstar came out….
“In the past few weeks I’ve lost 2 very dear people in my life. Although you can’t see me cryin’, there’s a hole in my soul and it’s amazing I haven’t gone crazy yet. My mother passed away. It has, without a doubt, been quite an emotional time. When I got the call about my mother’s passing, I heard my daughter coming down the stairs crying. I hung up the phone and placed her on my lap. She said she had a bad dream. She dreamt that grandma died. She said she came to her bed to say good-bye. I knew I had to tell her. I composed myself quickly and I explained to her how very lucky she was. Grandma had just passed away, a short time ago, and she came to her room to say good-bye. With tears in both our eyes, she smiled up at me and we held each other. I knew I had to do what it takes, so she’d never look at that night as “the nightmare that came true”, but she’d always treasure that special time with grandma instead.
I was in my hotel room, with my 2 favorite photos of her. I sat up most of the night just looking at them, listening to music and thinking of all those memories…the good and the not so. I thought about some of those, from the view through the “window” my mother had. Sometimes, there are no answers to the why’s and why nots, just a simple peace. I so very much hoped my mother would come to me to say good-bye, too, to say our last words to each other. I hoped all night, but that did not happen, she did not come. Being close with her, perhaps, she didn’t need to. That evening, I did not cry. I do feel I finally found, a kind of, peace with my mother. My heart was filled with love for her. She knew that. I knew how much I was going to miss her being in my life.
When we talked, we both knew there were things between family members we didn’t fully understand as children. Growing up, I learned we need to accept those we love for who they are. Everyone has the right to make their own choices throughout life. At the same time, we do not have to agree with them. We are all individuals. But, as I continue to grow, I also understand that it’s okay not to understand, but to simply accept those choices our loved ones have made. Life is a journey and I know this is just one of the many paths we must explore along the way, before our trip is over and we’re on our permanent vacation.
The next day, I went to the funeral home to say good-bye to my mother. Her body laid there, surrounded by roses and orchids, looking so peaceful. I gave her love. I gave her respect. I gave her admiration. I gave her one last hug. I gave her one last kiss. As I told you, she always had us kiss her on the cheek, but not this time. This time, the last time, I gave it to her right on the lips! I told you I would do that someday.
I know my mother will get her wings and become and angel. I know that her heart will at last, now be at peace. For my father, I can only hope for his heart to mend. He has 44 years to deal with. His journey will be more difficult than ours. Although at the end, she gave him no words, I truly hope his destination is finally a peaceful one. Yes, we all have our toys in the attic, our “skeletons” and such, but it’s how we react when we feel we’ve been kicked right in the nuts, that speaks loudest. He laid her to rest surrounded by so much love, that sweet emotion, all the love he felt for her.
As for me, I must grab myself by the big ones, get a grip and dream on of a better, happier day. For my children, for us all. Dreams are what keep us going. In this box of fire, sometimes we must draw the line and not let tomorrow bring the same ol’ song and dance of the last day. At times, when we feel caught like a rock in a hard place, we come to understand that life, sometimes, seems like it’s done with mirrors…not windows. Sometimes, we come to understand we’re not seeing, but reflecting. Soon, those good memories become better memories and those bad, become not so bad after all.
I had a wonderful time with you, sweetheart. Until next time,
I love you,
P.S. My father just found a letter my mother wrote to all of us, her children. I won’t get my copy until next week’s end. I can only hope her final words do not interfere with the peace my heart has finally been able to find with her.”
This letter was written in the fall of 1997 and is not in its entirety. Some parts were much too personal to share here. He told me, reading this brought him to tears. Little did we both know, there’s was much more craziness lying in waiting, yet to come…