Two weeks ago I had a relatively good week. Definitely wasn’t expected, but I thought it would be fleeting. & it was. But I was talking to C about it and how since I was ‘distracted’, essentially, things didn’t seem as bad.  I’ve been here before…last semester, the day before I was going to see my father, I was pretty happy. Still dealing with my mother’s death, but with C’s help I felt like I was finally making some type of progress. Finally seeing beyond the fog. And then my father died and all of a sudden I was plunged back into the same arena I thought I was emerging from.

Going through the stages of grief I recognize the emotions and thoughts I’m having in regards to my father as similar to the ones I had when my mother died. Of course there are differences because the relationship I had with my father was vastly different from the one I had with my mother. To this, however, we add a third line of now having neither of them which is an entirely different matter. It’s hard to sort through these things, especially given everything else going on…trying to graduate, figuring out what to do after graduation/with my life, along with the other things constantly running across my mind. For someone as analytical as I am, all of this is frustrating and even makes me angry. Recently I’ve been thinking that if I post/say/do something “normal”, that means I’m not…sad (seems inadequate, but it’ll do). Logically, I know that’s not true and I don’t have to put on a happy face..or a sad one for that matter. I don’t have to feel guilty for being happy sometimes or for having a good day. A good week. Smiling. Laughing. By that same token, it’s also okay if I’m angry or sad or whatever the case may be.

It’s only been 2 months and 5 days…I tell myself on a fairly regular basis that I shouldn’t feel the way I do, but it hasn’t been that long. Even if it had been, the fact remains that any death leaves behind its mark on loved ones. And that’s okay. C tells me all the time to give myself permission to feel. Permission to…be angry, be sad, not talk, keep to myself, be…whatever it is that I am. It’s hard for me to do that, but I am going to try. At the same time, I will try to give myself permission to smile when I want to or laugh or have fun.

I’ve lost a lot of motivation…it seems things happen right in the thick of everything else. I have decisions to make and things to think about, but at the same time I’m trying to process all of this and it can be overwhelming. Balance is all off lol Again, I think C would say that’s okay. She’s always talking about taking “baby steps” lol So I’ll try to do that I guess. Take the things I need to do and kind of prioritize and do them in steps. That’s all I can do at this point. I want to avoid going to the place I was in when my mom died, but somehow it seems inevitable because my father’s death automatically makes me relive my mom’s while also having its own nuances. It’s all wrapped up together. I’m deciding to try to fight it and try to remember that as I emerged from the fog before, it can happen again. But the process is not to be rushed. Right now my only goal is not to give up. Despite…everything…I cannot give up.

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Today

This post is going to be fairly short (looking at it, clearly it isn’t that short lol) & I’m combining it with another post from the “A Time For Everything” notebook thing I got from the counseling lady. Let’s get that over with:

If there was something I would have added to your service, it would have been: 

I can’t think of anything that I would add. I definitely wish we didn’t have to have it at all..but…I don’t necessarily remember the entire day as a fluid motion of time. Even though I wrote a post about it, it is more like a day of flashes, sort of. I guess it was “nice”. A lot of people came. A lot of people were sad. The days following were hard though, but, like I said. I can’t think of anything I would have added. My sister & I wrote part of the eulogy and we contributed some songs to be played. I think that was nice and important for us..to feel like we were doing something for you/to help out. *shrugs*

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On another note, this has been an interesting semester. Quite stressful, in various ways and not even just for me. For other people that I know as well. I was going to say a lot has happened and, in some ways, a lot has. My heart aches for the pain my sisters and other friends are feeling. Then it also reminds me of my own pain, weird thing going on. On top of that, the semester is drawing to a close, summer plans need to be finalized, I need a job, have to start thinking about after graduation. Idk. Although under sad circumstances, I met one of the strongest families this past week. They are hurting, but are still trying and determined to press into God. While I can’t help but think that my reaction was the exact opposite, it also encourages me a bit. I’m praying for them and thankful to have them as an example.

I was telling Crown Jewel yesterday that it is important to listen to music about God. I’ve been pretty upset with Him lately and, unconsciously, haven’t been listening to any music that talks about God. On the train ride home, I started listening to some and I felt my entire being start to feel…better? different? I don’t know. But I’m glad I have been doing it. Hillsong, Sidewalk Prophets, Bryan Pound, Smokie Norful and a few others have really been standing out to me. I think it is some progress. Also, just thinking about where I am in life and where I want to go (career wise and personally)..just..idk. Sorry, I can’t put it into words as well. I feel lighter, though. I’ve felt so heavy, consistently, since December 7, 2009. I don’t know. Maybe I have a little hope. I want to step out in faith. I do. Pain..whatever type it may be, can be such a hindrance in your life. Whatever it stems from, it’s like it is determined to slowly, but surely eat its way through every aspect of your life until there is nothing left. But..I think of all the people who I want to help and encourage and who I tell not to give up. All of that means I can’t give up earlier. And I’m still hurt, in so much pain, but I have to keep going. So..I say all of that to say, today I am feeling a bit encouraged. Stressed and tired, lol, but also encouraged. I miss my mother. I always will. Some days will be better than others. But today, I’m encouraged.

This is how I felt…

Being at your funeral service…

Put this off for awhile..guess I may as well continue with them. It’s long..so..sorry but..it’s my blog, right? lol 

As dramatic as it may sound, I’m pretty sure I felt like it was the worst day of my life. It was worse than the wake, to me, because the funeral had a sense of finality to it. But even at the wake, I remember looking at you and thinking that you didn’t look like yourself. Ace came  (HUGE s/o to Intrinsic Force for helping her come btw) and I remember everyone thinking she was a cousin because apparently she looks like us (“us” being the family lol). But, yea, at the wake, I remember Ace and I went in there and I held her hand and we walked up to the casket. I thought to myself, it doesn’t look like her..odd because it was/wasn’t. The whole, “absent in body is present with the Father thing”. But then it was weird…so weird seeing you in that context. I remember tears welled up in my eyes and I told Ace that we could leave now. So we walked out. A lot of people came to the wake because you knew SO many people. Some of my friends from kindergarten came..one friend of mine said that she didn’t cry until the wake. I think everyone was shocked. We all were. I was.

I remember my sister and I went shopping for something to wear to the funeral..I specifically did not want to wear all black, so I just wore black slacks, but I had this like..almost maroon colored button down that I wore instead. I probably halfway bought it because I thought you would like it. It is now one of my favorite shirts. Anyway. I talked to my #8 the day before or earlier in that week and told her that I would probably be calling her because that week was going to be a lot. I also think almost every day that week I talked to Lyrical Wisdom. She stayed up with me my first night home..until like 3am…I think all I did was cry, but I appreciate her staying on the phone with me, especially since she had an early class the next day.

The funeral was held at a church we used to attend, I think because it was bigger than our church was at the time.  My sister and I wrote part of the eulogy and added to what was in the program. We also put some music on a cd to be played..I remember walking into the sanctuary and up the stairs to give the CD to someone and looking over the balcony. Maybe then it hit me why we were all there, I don’t know. Now that I think about it, it almost seems like I remember that day in parts..patches of time, not a fluid motion. The next image that comes to mind is sitting in the front row. My cousin sat next to my sister, then Ace, then me. Then I think my stepfather and his kids later came and sat next to him. My uncle (our pastor) and the pastor of the church where we had the service kind of led the whole thing. A few people who knew you well and for a long time came and spoke about you and my aunt too. A common thread throughout everyone’s words were how nice you were, that you love(d) the Lord, how bright your smile is, that you loved your kids, your husband, and your family. And you were/are so dedicated to your job and touched so many people.

My cousin read the story thing in the program..it was a nice, long..and yet too short summary of your life. But it was written well, I think. It had stories and facts and some funny things in it. 3 girls from my church, 3 sisters, sang “He Is Exalted”. I LOVE when they sing that and so do you..it definitely had me in tears. As immediate family, we were first to walk up to the casket at the end. I think my sister and I went separately, each of us with whomever we had chosen to sit next to us. I don’t remember if I went first or my sister..but I remember walking up there,holding Ace’s hand tightly and staring at the casket..and then walking back to my seat. She could probably tell you my reaction(s) throughout the day because I definitely don’t remember. I know/assume I cried, but I don’t know when. Knowing me, it was a silent cry. After awhile we walked out of the church, got in the limo and headed toward the cemetery.

I guess I’ll stop here. Sometimes I replay the funeral and the wake in my head. I think it happens, sometimes, almost without me willing it. Mostly, though, I replay the night it all happened. I have to stop it sometimes..stop myself from doing it if I can’t handle/take all of the emotions and memories. I know it really said ‘how did you feel at the funeral’. I just told the whole day. Sometimes I just want to tell someone about it.

Performance

My favorite memory of you is…

I’m not sure I have one favorite memory, but when I tried to think of something that happened often, of course what came to mind was you singing.

My sister has a 20 second vid she posted of you singing The Temptations’ song, “I Wish It Would Rain”…you always loved to sing. Pretty much anything, but let The Temptations, The O’Jays, Aretha Franklin, Patti, Otis Redding, or the like come on and you grabbed a mic and started belting out all the lyrics..or all the words you thought should be lyrics.

I’m pretty sure I would give you this look like, “Seriously. Right now?!” But as I got older, I just sang along or watched in amusement until you finished. The songs were complete with dance movements and facial expressions. You hit (or tried to hit) every note, from falsetto to tenor. Which also reminds me of how you constantly refer(ed) to yourself as sounding like Barry White! Without fail, at church when you gave the announcements for Children’s Church, as soon as you got the microphone, you would say, “I know I sound like Barry White”…and I would always roll my eyes and think, “NO ONE THINKS THAT!”

Like I wrote in an earlier post, I’m pretty sure I got my early start towards old music from you and, looking back, I enjoyed the times when you sang..even if I was embarrassed sometimes.

Never Forget

Something that I remember you saying that I don’t ever want to forget is:

I think there are a few things I could put here. Or I could be generic and say ‘everything’.

You always encouraged me in whatever it was that I was doing and always, always told me to include God in it. I think that’s what I won’t forget. Even when/though I was/am mad at God throughout this whole thing or whatever issues I would be having with Him..in the back of my mind, I hear you saying that even still He is the only way that I can make it through..even being mad at Him.

Maybe I can say that’s the one thing…to always keep God first, keep God in it, keep God with it, and seek Him first  above all else and above all others.

Matthew 6:33 (NLT) says, “Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

You lived that everyday, to the best of your ability. That isn’t to say you didn’t make mistakes, because you did…not perfect at all. But I believe that you tried your hardest to live as God would have you to and you were truly a woman after His heart. I will never forget that.

Lasting

The last time we saw each other or talked was:

This is actually something that is semi hard for me to think about at times. The last time I saw you was in August 2009. You died in December. I came home for a visit over the summer…it was, without a doubt, the best trip home I had in awhile. For the past few years I had begun to sort of distance myself from home…it always seemed to be accompanied by drama of some sort and I didn’t want to deal with it..so I didn’t. I came home less and less..only for Christmas and an occasional visit in the summer.

But this time was good/better.

You knew it too, because you left me a note in my room (you always left notes…in the morning when you left for work or in our lunches, when we were kids). The note said that you would miss me when I left and that it had been a great visit. I think I was only home for a week or two, but I noticed the difference. The last time I saw you, was at the airport, when I was going back. I went to check my bags and came back to see you (I think I had some time before boarding) and you were near tears. I remember looking at you and saying, “Mom, what’s wrong?”…and you said, “I miss you.”

Knowing me, I probably slightly rolled my eyes and told you that I would be back in a few months for Christmas.

The last time I talked to you…you died on a Monday…I talked to you briefly..so, so briefly on Sunday. I remember you asking me if I went to church (which I hadn’t because I overslept..or just didn’t get up lol) and then I think we briefly talked about my sister. Then you said you were tired. The next day, I stayed up all night finishing a paper. Went to turn it in, came back to my apartment, and thought about calling you, but decided to wait. I decided I would wait until after 7 when my minutes were free and I think I thought that you were at work anyway. So I waited.

That’s hard for me to deal with…that I almost spoke to you that day, but didn’t. Was so close to calling you, but I didn’t. And that the last conversation we had was so brief and not really about anything. I remember you said you were tired..you sounded tired too.

I don’t think it would have made much of a difference if I had seen you or talked to you..meaning, I don’t think this would be easier. I just still wish it could have been more. I wish I had been there at the hospital.

Together

Here I’ll describe things we did together, what we enjoyed, and some of our favorite things: 

Hm…oddly enough I think I never really noticed some things we both enjoyed until later in life.

We both loved romance movies. You are/were a sucker for a good love story. I remember when the 3 of us saw P.S. I Love You in theaters and you cried smh…we looked at you like, “Mom..are you crying!?” and just shook our heads lol One movie we both loved, though, was City of Angels. Sarah McLachlan’s song, “Angel” is our song lol I still like it..makes me think of you. I only recently started to actually listen to the words.

I think I got an early love/appreciation of old music from you. Cleaning the house on Saturday mornings by listening to oldies on the radio..blasting it and all of us singing at the top of our lungs while we scrubbed. I remember calling you senior year of undergrad and telling you how much I loved this Otis Redding song, I think it was “These Arms of Mine”. And you told me that I was truly your daughter. Seemed over the years there were a few things that were signature to us being your children 🙂 I also enjoyed the O’Jays, The Temptations…so many more. But I feel like that eased me into my current love for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole…all of them. I definitely attribute that to you. You would sing Nina Simone’s song, “Turning Point” sometimes…I always loved when you would sing that. I don’t know when it was exactly, but I have a very vivid memory of walking into the kitchen, you were standing at the stove, and I said, “Mom, sing the Nina Simone song” (at the time, I didn’t know the name of it) and you did. I love that memory.

It wasn’t until fairly recently that I discovered the passion I had for cooking. I think you contributed to that too. The few things I remember(ed) how to cook from memory, I learned from watching you. Baked chicken was a staple at our house lol You never fried chicken..but it was ok, because I could get that from Aunt E 🙂 Eggplant Parmesan (which you told me how to make over the phone for Thanksgiving in 2009 and Speakerboxx & Clear Cut loved it), green beans, BBQ chicken, ultimate salads..you started it. Who would have guessed I would love it this much, though? Momo (still don’t know why we called Grandma that lol) asked you once if we could cook and you told her we could. I think I can. So much so that I want it to be involved in what I do for a living. Bet you wouldn’t have seen that coming.

While living at home I’m not sure I appreciate it, but I know you loved going to the Public Market. I think I more so enjoyed the things we got from there. The fresh fruits and vegetables…mmmm! You called me once while I was in undergrad and said, “Ade, guess what I got from the Public Market?? Grapefruits, oranges, apples…” I was completely BLOWN that you were telling me all this when I could not partake!

Generally speaking, we would watch TV or movies together, go to church, have lunch when I came home and visited you at work…oh and when we would go back and forth with just saying all kinds of nonsense and you would say, “who do you think you’re talking to?” lol And I, of course, would say, “Nobody” lol

Feel like I’m selling us short, but…yeah.