My mom kept a lot of things.
-that may be a vast understatement.
Growing up I knew she kept, matchbooks, mementos, and refrigerator magnets.
She collected pens with marketing promos and hotel notepads.
Even in later years, she would stop to pick up old hubcaps on the roadside for potential yard art, and eyeball wooden pallets for future home projects.
There was a lot of things she saw potential in; things most people would consider ‘junk’.
Beginning to sift through these things after her recent passing, is going to be anything but easy.
Someone who has been a pillar of my foundation for my entire life is now gone…
How does anyone begin to process a loss like that? Especially when you were as close as me and my mom.
-although we butted heads at times. Such is the case when it came to tattoos.
I distinctly recall her telling me,
“If you get another tattoo, I’m going to kick you in the butt.”
My mom, being the sweetest person in the world, and I busted out in uncontrollable laughter. From that moment on, ‘kick you,’ became our inside joke. It was “our thing” to the point that my next tattoo was a footprint.
This inside joke continued for years.
To anyone on the outside, it wouldn’t make sense, but that’s just how we were.
It’s all been so hard to even comprehend; that she is gone, and so suddenly.
Maybe it’s just like sobriety in that, I have to digest this just one bite at a time.
-like starting with a sock drawer.
Just a harmless sock drawer, right?
The drawer busts open with each meticulously matched pair of white Hanes. An ability that was entirely lost on me; matching socks. (Sorry, mom) There isn’t much else in the drawer other than the coupled pairs of pristine white pods with pink lettering on the toes, but as I start to sift through the sea of white, a few colored pairs distinguish themselves.
- some light blue and green socks with pizzas on them for lounging around the house
- some handmade knitted socks she wore on the coldest of days
- polka-dot knee highs she kept for layering up in the snow
As I pull them from the drawer, a small note nestled in-between wriggles loose and falls to my lap. Suddenly the socks can wait.
The note is nearly weightless in my hand, feels tiny yet massive as I fumble for it, searching for an open flap. The paper is thin as if it’s been folded and unfolded time after time, ready to fall apart at the crease.
My fingers fight to find the open fold, which opens to another fold, and finally, the tiny notepad page is open, staring back at me. It’s contents, blue and bold against the stark white lined page.
Suddenly, my vision becomes as blurry as a rainy windshield ready for some clean wiper blades. When I push the water from my eyes, they quickly fill again, pooling with tears before I can reread what I saw.
My eyes finally settle on the page and the words become legible enough to decipher though my heart wretches at the sight.
That’s it. That’s all it said. Folded and unfolded over again, who knows how many hundreds of times to be worn this threadbare.
Of all the things she kept and collected, all the Mother’s day cards signed “Love your daughter”, and the birthday cards autographed with my name, she kept this. In her sock drawer, no less. Even now the thought brings me to tears.
The hole my mom leaves behind is immeasurable; the loss, incomprehensible. As a dear friend phrased it, “…the biggest tragedy of the community…”
I love you beyond words mom, and I wish I could tell you that one more time, hug you one last time, hear one last, ‘kick’. Thank you for being the most amazing mother, best friend, wife, sister, aunt, cousin, daughter and the overall woman everyone wishes they could have in their lives.
Though my sobriety is not at risk, my heart is very much fragmented after this week’s events. I will continue to strive for a healthy sober life for my mother, knowing full well it’s what she would wish and how she would want me to continue my life.
-even though it doesn’t feel like I can continue at all.