Drowning in Memories

I have come to the conclusion that the dark side of this second season is that as we age the losses come with more frequency. When we find our footing after torrential grief the button gets pushed again. And again.

My grandmother is making her way home to heaven. Towards the man she was married to and loved for over half a century. To a place she believes in with every fiber of her being. She’s given us several close calls this last year but the hospice staff tells us we won’t be granted a reprieve this time. Though I think Em and I will hold out hope until that final call comes.

My brain has become a time machine of memories. My grandma, I call her Mom, was a huge part of my childhood. My 17 year old mother had no idea what to do with a newborn born with a birth defect in need of constant medical attention. I was raised in my grandparents home during my formative years thus learning to call my grandma “Mom” from hearing my mother do so.

I have years of memories of being sent to stay with my grandmother when I was sick. When I was recovering from any one of the 50 surgeries I had before my 18th birthday. When I needed to be taken to endless doctor appointments. It was always Mom that I remember taking me. I am sure my mother was there somewhere but it’s Taco Bueno and Bennigan’s lunch dates with Mom that I remember across the street from Memorial City hospital. It’s ENDLESS pots of our families “slumghetti” recipe she would make when I was sick. (She swore after the third pot when Em was born she would never make it again. She did – she just didn’t eat it after that!) Recipes that can’t be recreated because they are missing the touch of love I’m sure she put in them.

I spent most of yesterday trying to remember the last time she made me any “slumghetti”. I can’t. I didn’t know it would be the last time. When we broke down her house last year the memories were packed away in boxes. Boxes I find myself wanting to open and just rewind time.

Mom and I’s relationship changed after PawPaw died. She swore it was because we loved him best. She just didn’t know how hard it was to be around her without him and with the knowledge that she too would leave me. First PawPaw, then Fred three years later, now her five years after that. I look around at people that I love dearly who aren’t getting any younger and I know this is one part of life I’m going to have to get a little stronger at. Does one ever really get good at saying goodbye?

Em & Mom

This picture is one of my favorite of Mom. That joy? She always had it when Em was around. I have siblings that would tell you she had it with me too, and I’m sure she did, but our bond was forged deep on the years she was there for me when people who should have been weren’t. With Em? She got to just do the joy. She knew I had Em in all the ways my mother let me down so she just got to love her the way a grandmother should. Even if she was her great grandmother. So precious for those two to have 20 years…how many great grandmothers get that? I know Em is drowning in more memories than I am but I also know there is a part of her that will be glad when Mom gets the one thing she has wanted for eight long years. To be with PawPaw again.

You have heard this from me more than once. You’ll probably always hear it from me. Life is short. Precious. Getting more so by the day. Hold those you love close. Appreciate those who are there for you because they want to be not because they have to be. Love HARD. It’s the only way to survive this life.

Blessings y’all – Amy

Dealbreakers?

I had a long convo with a close friend last week and through the twists and turns of that conversation came the idea of dealbreakers.

When we are young and chasing the youthful love that our 20’s bring we don’t think of what WE need. Life just feels good and is intoxicating. It never occurs to us that we can say “you are a nice person but not the person for me” because…. Mainly because at that stage of life we don’t know ourselves – let alone know how to really see people. Be it friends or lovers our emotions rule over our heads and the gut instinct you develop from life kicking the crap out of you just ain’t there yet.

But when you find yourself at the mature phase of life, seeking out someone worthy of your time for whatever reason, the rules are different. You know yourself (or should) better than you ever have. You know what you are looking for and admittedly it can seem like a needle in a haystack. But following the idea that there is a glove for every hand – settling for someone who only checks two of your ten boxes just to not be alone is insane.

For me personally? I’ve had love and I’ve been treated like a queen. The standards are high. A huge dealbreaker this time around is anyone who doesn’t have at least a little wanderlust in their heart. Seeing this huge world is the focus on the next chapter of my life. I’ve done bills and babies and hectic schedules. I want to sit on a patio in Greece and watch an incredible sunset with someone who will appreciate it as much as I do.

That someone should love animals and be able to handle craziness that comes with my nutballs. Be able to melt at a pair of puppy dog eyes as quickly as I do. Be open to the zoo that lives in my heart.

Must be a southern gentleman. Someone who makes me feel safe while making me laugh – at myself and everything else. I’ve had too many tears…laughter is required in this season.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’ve only dipped my toe back into the dating world as it is a SCARY place after almost 20 years of being devoted to one person. The world has the same number of nutballs as it always did and I’m afraid of being a magnet for them. 🤷🏻‍♀️

But it is empowering to know that with a mature heart logic can at least have a chance over lust. Fred always told me I wasn’t meant to be alone – I have too much love to give. I used to dismiss him when he said that. As I’ve healed I realize he is right. I have so much I want to do and see and while I don’t NEED anyone…having someone to share it with is how God intended life to be liven.

What are your dealbreakers?

Blessings y’all – Amy

Reflections of a Wounded Heart

They say everything changes when you turn 40. Actually they say it all goes to hell in a hand basket. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Things droop that didn’t before, going to bed at 8 am no longer seems appalling, the eye doctor says the dreaded “bi-focal” word. You don’t FEEL 40, heck you don’t feel 30, but the number keeps climbing.

More importantly your perspective on many things changes. For some, it happens naturally and without pain. Maturity just grows along with the number of candles on your cake. For others, 🙋🏻‍♀️, it takes catastrophic events to shake them out of the protective bubble they have cast around themselves. While I wish dearly I had fallen into group “a” my life has always dictated I do things the hard way.

If you have known me long or been reading here you know I’ve been going through massive changes in my life. Some of my choosing but most, well, not. What I didn’t anticipate as I fought, scratched, clawed, disrespected, and basically did everything but throw myself in front of things beyond my control is that God was working. He was allowing me to screw up to the “nth” degree. On purpose. Letting me get to a place there was no light. No hope. No joy. No love. Nothing at all left of the stability I craved with every fiber of my being.

Before you jump ship saying He wouldn’t do that – hang on. God had been trying to get my attention for years. Aborted journals reflect that. Times I cried out but quickly “fixed” it myself attested to that. I am a “fixer”. There is nothing (so I thought) that I couldn’t analyze for all the possible negative outcomes and navigate myself or someone I loved out of danger. I mean c’mon. If you were dealing with a human that dumb wouldn’t you let them fall as far as they could before you showed them the way?

Not saying God has any such thoughts. But I certainly would have looked at me and say “you have fun with that let me know when you need real help”. Blessedly God has abundant mercy and grace. He is patient and knew long before I did that this dark season was coming. Sometimes I wish he had given me some warning but if I look back really hard I bet I can find the warnings I chose to ignore.

Recently a co-worker told me he’s finding many people our age running into self reflection. I can’t speak for anyone else but self reflection is putting it mildly. Self analysis, soul searching, self questioning, self correction, self remodeling…you get the idea. Coming face to face with every one of my imperfections and analyzing and agonizing over how I have handled some parts of my life. How it changed relationships in my past or present. How it passed down to my children. Who my own fears and insecurities erased from my life. It’s exhausting. I’m not a bad person – I know that – but I, like any human, have places I could have chosen a different path.

It would be easy to blame it all on the very broken environment I was raised in. And while the lions share of it belongs there (validated by the counselor) at some point I consciously or subconsciously made choices for my own protection from pain. I willingly tucked my family in closer than it should have been (to be healthy) because I was afraid the world would break the happiness I had found. I guarded the nest Fred and I created with the energy of a tiger protecting a steak. When I suffered the catastrophic loss of my husband I somehow pulled my children in CLOSER. Unknowingly stifling their growth and happiness.

Regardless of what anyone thinks not a single choice I have made has been with ill intention. Not one. I am discovering how very hard it is for others to know that. In a society where judging comes first and any sort of compassion and understanding comes second it appeared controlling. Only those closest to me, who know my purest heart, understand who I am. As I embrace the woman God intended me to be, and get the love I need from Him (where I should have gotten it all along), I am finding myself still battling stress and regrets but with a softer tongue and a self awareness that comes with maturity and being shaped by pain. I find myself understanding which wrong turns I took and how a different path would have landed a different outcome. I find myself letting my children know where I went wrong so they can avoid making the same painful mistakes. Fully understanding that in their young immaturity they’ll probably have to make them anyway but once a protective mother always a protective mother.

I say all this to say…take time for reflection. Allow God to speak to your heart and show you the way. If you are still young avoid youthful impatience in your choices. Be mindful of the longevity of adulthood and how lasting decisions really can be. But know that if you are nursing a wounded heart? God still has plans for you. He does for me and while I’m impatient to find out what they are I know it’ll happen on His time. And that I am learning in every second that I am waiting.

God Bless – Amy