December 13, 2013
Today, it's been four years.
Four years since those sleepless nights. Since those long hours at the hospital. Since the day she woke up and couldn't remember us anymore, the day she asked if I was a nurse. Since the cannonball sobs late at night alone in my room. Since that frozen graveyard service, with my high heels sinking into the snow.
But today, I don't want to write about my mom's death. I want to write about the angels. I want someone, whoever reads this out there in the blog world, to know about the angels who saved me during those tough weeks. I can't possibly thank everyone, so if you're not on the list, I promise I'm still thinking of you and remembering your angel service.
Did you know that my roommates postponed their winter break just for me? They had plane tickets to go home and be with their families for Christmas, but they changed their plans just so they could meet me for the graveside service. They made me the most beautiful quilt and wrapped me in it.
Did you know that the nurses at the hospital pretended they couldn't count to two? Mom collapsed in the middle of swine flu season, and there were strict visitation rules at the hospital. The nurses pretended they couldn't count to two visitors so we could cram dozens of people in my mom's little room.
Did you know about those meals? Friends, neighbors, people I'd never met dropped off dinners for us almost every night, two per night sometimes. The manager at the local Olive Garden heard about us, and brought a full dinner over a few times, for all 20 or more people we had in our house.
Did you know about my family? Aunts and uncles that took entire weeks off of their busy lives to fly to Oregon and be with us. They locked themselves and my little brothers in a room with new lego kits for a break my brothers so desperately needed. They did the midnight watch so we could sleep. They cooked and cleaned and endlessly did laundry for our family. They did our Christmas shopping for us.
Did you know about the funeral? A crowded chapel, cultural hall and overflow that rose to their feet in unison when our family walked in. I clutched my little sister's hand and cried because of the love from all those people on their feet. And did you know about the lullaby? Two of my mom's best friends sang her lullaby to us, one last time, at the funeral. I don't know how they managed it, but it was the best part.
And most of all, did you know about my angel mother? My angel mother who had people over for Sunday dinner more often than not. My angel mother who was always babysitting someone and eating hot tamales and saying that life was too short to slow down for speedbumps. My angel mother who had the best April Fools jokes and the clearest blue eyes and the funniest way of imitating pop songs with all the wrong lyrics.
A line from a children's song at church has been stuck in my head recently. "Some say that heaven is far away." But whenever I think of my angel mother, I think - you know what? Heaven is not far away. Heaven is happening. Look around you. Heaven is right here, right now. Heaven is in the way Krysti loves my siblings like her own children. Heaven is in the way my closest friends still talk about her and remember her often. Heaven is in the letter she left me. Heaven is in the way I see my family trying to be like her. And, if I try very hard and be very still, heaven is in the way I know my mom is always with me, and will always be with me.
Happy Angel Day! "Everything I am or ever hope to be I owe to my angel mother." ~Abraham Lincoln