And leaving your own legacy.
There is this deep-rooted sadness when you lose your parents. I have spoken to so many others and the common thread is that no matter how old you are or they are, it is gut-wrenchingly terrible losing your parent. In my case I’ve lost my mama. Three years now, and still I try to call her when I am in my car . . . Bluetooth of course. But alas, she doesn’t get my calls where she is. I am certain however that she is still looking over us and can hear me.
What is strange though is how much of a hole she left when she went. I knew she was huge in my life, but it is hard to grasp how truly wonderful something is until it is gone. She was my best friend, my mom, my support system, my shopping partner, grandmama of my son, lover of my dogs, my adventure buddy, cooking instructor, spiritual guide, sewing tutor and life coach. Hard to loose all that in one breath and not feel lost and disjointed. I think it took me a full year to even accept she was gone. Another year to realize she wasn’t coming back. By year three I think I can finally feel her in everything I do. I get to see her in everything Henry does too.
The other night my son said to me, “I wish for Grandma Sandy to come back alive when she’s done playing with God.”
I have to admit, I wish for that too. It is hard living life without the center rock of your life. When you are little, your parents are this infallible thing that is untouchable and they are stronger than anything in the world. As you grow you realize that isn’t fully true, but I still leaned on my mama for guidance and love and support. She still, to me, seemed impenetrably strong. Even with cancer I saw her as an unstoppable hero. I had a habit of calling her every day when I got off work, just to hear her voice and make her day. She gave me life, and I gave her sunshine. She called me that, Sunshine. Now I call my son that. A small piece of our heritage.
After three years without her I want to share these lessons I have learned.
1 Thank your parents. They did a lot for you. Sure they are crazy, but they are amazing too, and if we are being fair we probably made them crazy. Maybe they were normal before we existed. Talk them every chance you get. Have your children spend time with them as much as possible. Time is so much quicker than we think, so take advantage of the blessings you have.
2 Take videos. I only have two short videos of my mom. That’s it. And six voicemails. Those are my only links to her voice. I wish I would have taken more video of just us hanging out. It didn’t matter what we were doing, but just little memories. I take videos of my son, but very few did I take of her. But I am thankful for what I have, and I listen/watch them every now and then, and smile. Hallmark also sells these books you can record for your child with you reading the book. That’s pretty amazing.
3 Leave your legacy. I have my son’s baby book complete, as well as letters for him to open, just incase I don’t make it to all his important dates in life. I make a simple photo book for him every year for Christmas through Blurb to capture some of our wild adventures. I have a notebook where I record the funny things he says, that’s probably more for me than him, but someday it will be his too. And I just started a journal for him. A place where I can draw and write and tell him all the things I want him to know and understand one day, because some day I won’t be there to tell him all our stories.
4 Spiritual animal. This is a fun way to find them in weird places. My mom loved hawks and one day I noticed they would appear when I need her the most. I believe it is a symbol of her visiting me. Even the Red Cardinal symbolizes the afterlife, someone you love visiting you. So open your heart and let your loved ones visit you. They are just waiting for you to see them so you can feel their love and warmth. My mama always shows up just on time.
5 Talk to them. They still hear you, and even if you don’t believe that just yet. It is so therapeutic to say things out loud. So when you get your alone time in your car or wherever, take five minutes and tell them your troubles and fears and triumphs. It helps heal the soul to let the pain out in the world.
6 Last Will and Testament. Do it. No matter how much you fear it or think you don’t need it. That’s the point. It is there for when life gets all to real and unkind. It is there as your final hug to your family and babies. Don’t look at it as accepting death, look at it as starting the road map of life for your family. At some point we all have to stop walking on this earth, we may as well make the path smooth for those we leave behind. Kindness and love in all things we do.