Dear Mom [Week 10 + 11]

 Hi Mom,

A 14 page research paper is calling out to me from the recesses of this here laptop. I’m ignoring it, like I do Max on his first blood-curdling scream every morning. I have no idea why he screams like that. Maybe it’s a boy thing? He screams like it is the end of the world. Every. Single. Morning. He doesn’t say, “Mom” or “I’m awake” or anything. He just screams like he is the about-to-be-murdered star in a horror film. And, yes, I ignore him the first time. Because, one, I have to wake my body up to actually get out of the bed. And, two, I  try to muzzle my ears from the world before the second scream so that the second time I can pretend that it’s a nice lovely bird chirping that is actually waking me up. Ha. Well, I’m ignoring my paper. I’ll get to it on the second scream. Right now, I am here with you and the bird chirping.

I love you, mom. I hope you have a tiny glimpse of how grateful I am to you for everything you’ve given me. You gave me everything when I was small, but you give me even more now. I do not know how I would be getting through my days without you. I look forward to our conversations every Monday and Wednesday as I am driving to school. I am always so weary, and you never fail to buoy me up by giving me some perspective and a chuckle or four. It’s so peculiar how the words “I am so proud of you” make a person proud of themselves. Thank you for always saying them. Thank you for meaning them. What would I ever do without you?

Our phone call last night left me speechless. I am sorry it ended with my stunned silence and sobbing tears. I had the worst day yesterday, mom. I was so tired after a week from LG being out of town, Caroline being sick, work, school, YW in excellence, volleyball coaching, and long nights of make-up housework because kids had been home babysitting the sick one – and when kids are left alone, the house is always a disaster. Then to top it off LG got home and our marriage is so painful right now. So much work. It leaves me totally depleted and hopeless.

All day yesterday I kept thinking about dad, and how I wished I could call him. I just wanted to hear his voice tell me everything was going to be okay. I took LG to Del Taco on his way to work. We only have two cars, so I often get the carpool duty to make up the difference. I sat in the parking lot with Max as LG ran in. The drive-thru was ridiculous. As LG disappeared into the building, Max started crying for him. He hadn’t seen LG all week, and he worships the ground he walks on. LG and I had had words right as LG shut the car door, and crying Max put me over the edge. I cried with him.  Just cried and cried, until I laid my head on the steering wheel. I was parked next to a white sedan, just like dads. It was Veterans Day.

I turned my head to the right and out of the corner of my tear-filled eye I noticed an elderly gentleman trying to squeeze between my van and his car to get into the driver’s door. He was using two walking sticks and couldn’t quite navigate the narrow gap between the cars. I immediately wiped my tears and backed my van into the space across the parking lot. He smiled and waved. His Veteran’s cap belonged on dad’s head. I bawled even harder. More than anything I wanted him to be dad. More than anything I’ve ever wanted. I wanted dad to come and hug me and tell me everything was going to be okay. I was mad that this guy was alive, and dad wasn’t. I then got a strong feeling that said, “Your dad is free. It would have been too hard for him to be stuck using walking sticks.” Then I cried some more because of my selfishness.

Then, last night on one of the darkest I’ve had in awhile. You call. You tell me that when you were praying you had an impression for me. You wanted to help me. You wanted me to know that by next year things will be better. I swear you’ve been saying that to me for 10 years straight. It was your voice, but all I could hear was dad. Dad saying to me, “Alice, I see you. Don’t give up. I heard your cries for me. I see how hard everything is. Even more than I did when I was alive. I will help you however I can. I will never stop helping you. Stop crying because you need me. I am here. I am always here. I am watching over you. I love you, my beautiful daughter. You make me proud. Stop worrying. Stop crying so much. Stop missing me. I am here.”

So many things make me think of him. This week, perhaps the man at church in Sunday school, who fidgeted with the paper on the table, was the most profound for me. He barely touched the paper with the tips of his fingers and gently bent the paper to his will, one clock-wise 30 degree twist at a time. Exactly like dad. I can’t tell you how many times I saw this exact movement from dad’s hand. His huge rough hard-working hand could move mountains with a touch as gentle as a feather. The image is nothing short of God. How can a man possess a strong hand full of callouses and muscle, yet also have mastery of delicacy? The juxtaposition is exactly what we all must master to be like our maker.  I closed my eyes. I pretended I was sitting next to dad. I breathed deeply. Meditating to make it all true. This stranger-to-me’s scent made it true. He smelled just like Old Spice.  I swallowed my emotion as I let my tears trickle down my throat. I was in a room of just six people and didn’t want to embarrass anyone. For just a second, I was sitting in a church classroom with dad again. How many times I took that for granted!

Well, I want to keep writing mom, but the paper is on its 15th scream now. Just like Max, it cannot be ignored any longer. I love spending this time with you, mom. It is one of the highlights of my life to have time with you like this. To tell you I love you. To remember dad. And to do it in a way that I love. Where would I be without writing? Without you and dad?

I want to leave you with two songs, mom. The first, I just heard on my drive to the library. It immediately made me think of dad and you and our conversations of your loneliness. I heard dad’s voice again. On the chorus. This time it was for you. “Carry on
Give me all the strength I need. To carry on.” Yet the voice didn’t say “give me all the strength I need” it said, “Sharon, I have all the strength I need, and enough for you too…”I’ll give you all the strength you need.” Mom, you may not see dad, and you may not even have the experiences you want or the assurance that you want about seeing him again, but this morning while listening to this song, I knew without a doubt that the reason you are functioning and moving forward is because Dad is giving you more strength than you’ve ever had before.

He is transferring his strength to you now. When you feel down, just know that you have dad’s strength now. You must feel like you can lift your entire garage 100 times over. Dad did it more than that. ha ha. Dad’s strength is bigger than I can even try to measure. I can’t imagine how strong you should be feeling. His strength is the best gift that he can give you. I don’t know exactly how that works, but if dad had to learn to time-travel and run at the speed of light and lift the sun straight from the sky, and then transfer DNA from one cell to another, I am sure he did it all in an hour just to get you what you need. How lucky you have always been to have a man’s love like that.

See You Again

It’s been a long day without you, my friend
And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
We’ve come a long way from where we began
Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
When I see you again

Why’d you have to leave soon, yeah?
Why’d you have to go?
Why’d you have to leave me when I needed you the most?
Cause I don’t know really how to tell you without feeling much worse
I know you’re in a better place but it’s always gonna hurt

Carry on
Give me all the strength I need
To carry on

It’s been a long day without you, my friend
And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
We’ve come a long way from where we began
Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
When I see you again

How do I breathe without you? I’m feeling so cold
I’ll be right here for you ’till the day you’re home

Carry on
Give me all the strength I need
To carry on

So let the light guide your way, yeah
Hold every memory as you go
And every road you take
Will always lead you home, home

It’s been a long day without you, my friend
And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
We’ve come a long way from where we began
Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
When I see you again

When I see you again
When I see you again
See you again
When I see you again

And as I was typing after listening to the last song, the next one came on. It was like Dad wanted me to know that he not only can give you strength and send an angel to me, but he can control the internet, too. I can just see him laughing. He’s in humble awe of his new abilities wondering what he ever did right to earn privilege and trust and abilities like that. He whispered, “Watch this, Alice. Tell mom what I’ve got now. Tell her she doesn’t need to pray for me anymore. I’m just fine. My anniversary present to her is all of my love and strength.”

I hear you, dad. I hear you. I will tell mom. You’re only one call away. And yes, Superman has nothing on you.

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My mother-in-law just sent this to me. It’s from our wedding BBQ. Yeah, the night you should have been packing for the move the day after my wedding. Sorry about that shotgun wedding mom, but you and dad always had the right priorities.

One Call Away

I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one call away

Call me, baby, if you need a friend
I just wanna give you love
Come on, come on, come on
Reaching out to you, so take a chance

No matter where you go
You know you’re not alone

I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one call away

Come along with me and don’t be scared
I just wanna set you free
Come on, come on, come one
You and me can make it anywhere
For now, we can stay here for a while, ay
‘Cause you know, I just wanna see you smile

No matter where you go
You know you’re not alone

I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one call away

And when you’re weak I’ll be strong
I’m gonna keep holding on
Now don’t you worry, it won’t be long, Darling
And when you feel like hope is gone
Just run into my arms

I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one, I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one call away

I’m only one call away

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