Sunday, August 16, 2009

After the Rain...

My mom passed away four years ago today. A piece of me wedges loose every August and I feel an emptiness and longing that ebbs and flows. It's like -- for a little while -- my limbs go numb, my heartbeat slows and I know what it must be like to be colorblind. The grief isn't a stabbing pain the way it was at first; it's a duller sadness. Sometimes I imagine she's sitting with me while I quietly nurse Charlie and I feel tears running down my cheeks at 4am. When I trained for my marathon, I used to mentally detach my legs from my brain to ease the physical ache. In August, as the 16th approaches and I feel the weight of her loss, sometimes I try to disassociate my head from my heart. Today I told Madeline I felt sad. She took her band-aid off her knee and put it on my arm, then wrapped her skinny little arms around my neck and made me feel whole again.

Talking about my mom with my sisters sharpens my senses; it's easier to remember how she sounded and what she smelled like and things she said. We always, always end up laughing. Today, Mollie told me about the time she and my mom went clothes shopping at Target for her first professional post-college job. Mols got a phone call and they had to leave suddenly, so my mom, with all her enthusiasm and joie de vivre said, "Let's buy them all!" Without having tried anything on, they wheeled the full shopping cart to the check out and bought $350-worth of clothes, most of them the exact same pants and skirts in different sizes. A week later they returned almost everything...something my mom did often.

She was fabulous. Before she was sick, she had dark shiny hair and wore fuchsia lipstick. She had a beautiful full figure (though she was always trying to lose weight). When she started losing her hair from chemo, she shaved her head with gusto and glittered it with powder from Victoria Secret. She laughed loudly and a lot. She had a funky, eclectic style, and was willing to take risks, which fueled her creativity and is probably part of the reason she was such a talented artist and graphic designer. She painted our kitchen floor white, our fireplace orange and our front door magenta. She was always inventing businesses, and she dreamed about converting an old farmhouse in the countryside into an art studio.

She gave my sisters and me so many gifts, but the faith she worked into our everyday life is one of the greatest. She told me God matches our effort, which I think of often when a challenge feels bigger than me. One of my earliest memories is of her telling me that God has a great sense of humor. When I called home from college stressed out, undecided or brokenhearted, she asked me if I had prayed about it. Sometimes now when I feel stuck, I try to imagine what she would do or say. Ironically, I can imagine her saying simply -- with the loving directness that she was known for -- that she didn't know what to say. It stung then, but it strangely comforts me now. She was teaching us to be independent.

Sometimes after Madeline and I wait out a thunderstorm, the most brilliant sunshine follows and we run outside to play, getting out her chalk, jumping in the puddles and shaking the rain out of the trees. I will never stop missing my mom. August 16 may always be a hurdle. But it also marks the day she went to heaven, and there's something beautiful to celebrate in that.

11 comments:

The Stucks said...

The beauty of your mother's love shines through you each day, each moment with your own children, each kind word to a friend. She did an awesome job with you, so glad you shared this post.

The Brown Family said...

This was a beautiful post, Meg. I remember your mom's laugh, it was wonderful! She would be so incredibly proud of you, for so many reasons!!! Thinking of you and sending hugs your way.

David & Jennifer Stokes said...

What a beautiful post!!! Thanks for sharing. She sounds like a WONDERFUL MOM & friend just like you. Thanks again for sharing.

HStephens said...

Wow Megan! I was just up again (having trouble sleeping lately) and read your post. Is that your Mom in the picture? She looks so familiar, like I have seen her and talked to her before. She sounds like a beautiful person and wonderful Mom. I hope to be a Mom like her and my Mom, to my children.
I'm sorry to hear that she passed away. I lost my Aunt to cancer this past Jan. It makes you wonder sometimes, why God doesn't spare the "good ones." Anyway, I know you miss her, but it's comforting to know I'm sure, that she is still there looking down on you.

Codie said...

So beautiful, Meg. I am truly at a loss for words over your post. Although I never knew your mother and have only known you a short time, I am touched by what a wonderful person you are and can only thank your mother for that!

Johanna said...

Oh Meg! I am thinking of you! Sending you great big hugs and happiness! Your mom was an amazing person. She would be so proud of the mother you are yourself. I know that I am a few days late here, but I'm thinking about you, girl!

Chelsea said...

Meg, What a beautiful post about your mom. It's devastatingly painful to lose someone you love. You are so lucky to have your sisters to laugh and tell stories of your mom - it's the best way to keep her memory alive. It sounds like she gave you some wonderful life advice. She would be so proud to see what a wonderful mother you are and thrilled to see that you are so happy and have such a great life. Thinking of you...

Janelle said...

Megs, You are amazing...tears rolled down my face as I read your post! Even though I didn't know your mom I can see all you wrote about her in you....you are the best and I am so lucky to have a friend like Megan Vlach....I am thrilled to see you can celebrate her life with sooooo many memories and know she is in heaven cheering on how proud she is of you, your accomplishments and your awesome family. I love you so much and miss you tons! Hugs and Kisses!

Buffy said...

Hi Meg! What a beautiful post and tribute to your mom. I have such great memories of her. I have been thinking about you all month. Your mom would be so proud of the mom that you are to Madeline and Charlie! There is so much of her in you!!

Anonymous said...

Perfect, Megan. I miss her and think of her always. Her painting will be the first thing I bring into my new home with my new husband. Love always.

Allyson said...

After reading this post for the second (or third?) time, I'm teary eyed all over again. There's something so special about the mother-daughter relationship and you captured it beautifully. Your words are alive with emotion - I truly think you need to write for a living (as though you have nothing else to do, right??). :)