Just me

This week has been a week of happiness, grief and reflection.  September the 9th was my oldest daughters birthday, but September 11th was my dad’s birthday.  So often through the years they enjoyed celebrating their birthdays today with my dad joking in earlier years that he didn’t get as many toys as Casey.

I am so thankful that my children got a chance to know and spend so much time with their grandparents.  We had our issues and our family was nowhere near perfect, but my parents took active roles in the lives of their grandchildren. 

Mom made many blankets, sewed dresses, helped with costumes, school projects and many other things.  Dad tutored both kids on math on a few occasions.  Both of them transported my kids to and from school or daycare many times.  As a single parent, I honestly don’t know how I would have made it without their help. 

Mom made sure we celebrated birthday on the day each time, and didn’t just put things off until the weekend or when it was convenient.  We might gather with the rest of the family later, but we celebrated with mom and dad on the actual birthday. 

Each year when the first day of fall rolled around, mom would gather the kids and I together to take our annual trip to Burlington Coat Factory or the mall to buy winter coats and maybe some sweaters.  This was a tradition my parents started when my brother and I were small.  Dad always made sure we all went and bought coats and new shoes for winter.  It’s a small thing, but it’s a tradition we will keep this year as well.

It’s been a real trip down memory lane this week, realizing that last year on the 11th of September, I took a Boston creme cake to my dad, we bought him a new razor, socks, a few movies, a new CD and some funny cards.  He waved his hand and said, “aw, you didn’t have to do that,” while we sang happy birthday, but smiled all the while.  I have thought a lot of that moment this last week.  I am thankful we have it to remember as it was 10 days later when dad passed away. 

Traditions, no matter how big are small play an important part in each of our lives.  Take the time to celebrate when you have the chance and if at all possible keep the dates sacred.  You never know when life will interrupt your plans, treasure each and every moment, take advantage of every opportunity, and love the people in your life.

Cherry Coley (c)

Ninteen and Hopeful

Today is my oldest daughters birthday.  Today she is nineteen years old.  It’s hard to believe how fast time goes by.  It seems like you blink a few times and they are grown.

Casey Keal

We have so many wonderful memories of childhood, even though there were various hardships and struggles along the way.  Just watching your children grow is a privilege and honor. 

Casey named every stuffed animal, Barbie, toy that could be named Lindsey, until she finally had her little sister – Lindsey.  She was determined she would have a little sister to take care of. 

Sisters fight, boss, share, play and love each other.  I love my girls, they make my life so much more complete. 

 Thank God for little girls.  Thank God for children. 

 

 

 

 

 

Now my oldest daughter is nineteen with so much of life in front of her.  Now her path is her choice and her dreams are something she can pursue on her own.  I am so thankful to be a part of it.  I love watching her change into an adult a little more each day.  Just as I’ve watched her little sister change into a highschool Freshman over the summer. 

If you have children or there are children in your life then you too are part of their lives and you too will influence them, their purpose, and their dreams.  We are all here to help each other.  We all have a purpose and when you invest in the youth, you are investing in the future.

Casey at graduation

Ending Cycles and Renewal Ahead

A friend of mine told me that when you lose one parent, you are still okay, because you still have the other one.  You hurt, you grieve, but you have someone to share it with and you still have that foundation of where you began.  When the other parent dies then your world is shaken.  When the other parent is gone then you lose a large bit of your soul, your heart and your identity.

I did not experience this at first even though it was only two and a half months between when both of my parents passed away.  No, I went through the gut punches of grief when it knocks you to the floor now and then out of the blue, I have felt lost at times, but that has gradually gotten better.

The actual experience like my friend described hit me in the month of May.  May, the month I was born, and Mother’s day.  It is also the month that see’s the end of another school year. 

It was a humbling thing to realize I would never again celebrate my birthday with my mom.  My birthdays have never been grand or a big deal anyway, but mom always made it a point to make a cake, get a mushy card and a gift of some kind.  She made sure we all did something on THE DAY, not when it was convenient later. 

I found myself distraught on my birthday and the days that followed.  Unable to stop the tears and such a great sense of loss that just would not go away and a heart that felt deeply wounded all over again.  Then in a moment of great sadness I opened a drawer while unpacking and ran across a card.  A birthday card from my mother, it was from last year I think, but it still made me smile. 

This month has proven to be one of the hardest months I have ever lived through.  The passing of time has been so present, so prominent starting with my birthday and ending the month with my oldest daughters’ graduation.  It is a bittersweet time for all of us, as she is having a difficult time with the grief too and fighting back tears that her grandparents won’t be there to see her graduate. 

Yet, it is a time of renewal too because just as it is a notable end to some cycles in this life, the month also marks the beginning of a new cycle, the start of a new path for both of my daughters and myself. 

My oldest daughter will be walking the stage to say goodbye to high school and onto a path of her own choosing including college and the adult choices that she will face along the way.

My youngest daughter is graduating 8th grade and will start her journey through high school and preparing for her future and the dreams she holds dear.

I spent the better part of last week in a muddle, second guessing things I had no real business second guessing because – guess what – my friend was right, you do indeed seem to lose a part of your identity with the loss of both parents.  So it became a time of meditation, prayer, wise counsel, and choosing to remain true to the path I have chosen.

So the hardest month became the darkest tunnel, and now with the beginning of June in sight, the light is shining again.  We go forward, we press on, and we will walk through until we reach the other side and find ourselves, our dreams and each other again.

Cherry Coley ©

Grief and Birthdays

If there is one thing I have come to realize the last few weeks it’s that grief is completely unpredictable, and that it will not be ignored.  You will not skip by it, you will not just put it off until later, you will get doubled over and knocked down, and then struggle to keep some sort of composure as you muddle through the day.

 I have just been sort of going through the motions the last few days, putting one foot in front of the other and acting like everything is fine.  It’s not fine; it doesn’t seem real at all.  At least 4-5 times I started up the road and thought, “I have to call mom,” then would remember that she’s not there to call.  Then my mind would do this weird flip flop of trying to reject that fact and act like it was all just a bad dream.  If only we lived in soap opera land that might be true.  Then again, I’m not one to stand around plotting and worrying all day. 

 Somehow I just didn’t plan for this rollercoaster, and feel like I should have seen it coming, I should have anticipated or something.  You see, my birthday is tomorrow.  It’s never been that big of a deal for any of us.  We don’t go way out of the way, or celebrate for weeks or a month, or anything like that.  I am not really sure why, we just never have. 

 Yet, every year my mom would call me at 5 minutes until 5 o’clock and say, “Well, it’s about time you woke up!  (insert year)’s ago you kept me up all night long waiting for you to get here!  Happy Birthday!”  Then later on we would meet up and she would have made a cake and have written out a card.  It didn’t hit me until this weekend that I wouldn’t hear that message that used to make me smile and roll my eyes at the same time. 

 This last Saturday, my oldest daughter went to her Senior Prom.  She was simply beautiful, so very grown up looking in her dress with her boyfriend by her side.  I had to work so I wasn’t sure I would get to see them before they went to Prom, but they waited and made a special trip to come back by the house so I could snap a few pictures.  It was a bittersweet moment, I am so amazed at how much she’s matured and has really grown into a wonderful person, I was nailed again thinking how my parents would have loved to see her all dressed up.

 My youngest daughter went to a friend’s house to stay so it was just me, the dog, the cat and boxes of stuff to go through.  I was at a really low moment on Saturday, and just let myself cry for a while, talking to my mom as is she was there with me in the room.  At one point I asked, “Why, Mom, Why did you leave?  Why aren’t you here now?”    It was then I looked in the drawer of a cabinet, and found an envelope. 

 I turned the envelope over and pulled out a birthday card from my mom.  There was no date on it, but I know it must’ve been one from the last few years.  There she had written “Happy Birthday, Cherry.  If wishes were dollars, we’d both be rich.  I have so many wonderful wishes for you, and in the end, it’s the thoughts and wishes that count the most anyway.  Love, Mom”

 Thanks, Mom, you have NO idea how much I needed that!  Then again, maybe you do.

 Cherry Coley ©