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Monday, October 5, 2015

Hope to Remember and Not Forget

November 1st will make 12 years since my mother passed away.  I was only 16 at the time.  That means that four years from now, I will be at the break even point of life where I will have lived the same amount of time (and then longer) than I had lived with mom present.  That’s a weird thought.

And I know that I write often enough about my mom and I know it may drive you crazy.  I promise you it’s not all I think about.  I promise you that I don’t live in constant depression over it.  But it does flair and there are definitely certain times of the year that it’s more prevalent than others and if you don’t understand, that’s ok too. 

I write to remember because one of my biggest fears is to forget.  There is so much I have already forgotten and so much that has to be spurred on by the thought/memory of someone else to reshape the memory in my own head.  Sometimes I wonder what’s true memory and what images I conjured up over time to fill the void of memory.

But regardless, the last few days for various reasons, I’ve been practicing the skill of remembering.  Remembering even if it hurts or makes me sad but remembering so that I can keep those treasured memories long term.

It’s interesting though.  Some of the sharpest memories I have seared into my brain are from November 1st-8th of 2003.  If you’ll bear with me (or you can stop reading), I want to list my memories because when I list my memories, I am reminded to count my blessings and treasure the people that came alongside the roughest of times.  (This list will be incomplete.  I can name names of those I didn’t get to specifics on here but remember moments and times you were there.  Thank you for being there.)

Saturday, November 1st-
I remember coming home with dad after seeing the movie Radio in the movie theater (Dad, thanks for taking me to movies and football games and restaurants and making memories with me).  Mom was supposed to be out shopping but we soon realized why she was not.

I am thankful for our neighbors who were outdoors having a Halloween Party.  I lived next to a daycare so she had CPR training and rushed over to help until the ambulance/police arrived.

I remember arriving at the hospital and the small waiting room so jam packed of my relatives and pastor, there were no more chairs and I excused myself.

I remember calling my volleyball coach to tell her what I was going on.  I am so thankful for the impact that so many of my coaches, teachers and other faculty at the school played in my life.  I asked her to be in charge of letting the school administration know in hopes that the administration would let my teachers know so that I wouldn’t have to tell anyone.

Sunday, November 2nd-
I am pretty positive we were in church.  Our house was inundated with food and flowers and gifts.  The support network of church and the school district that both my parents worked for rallied around us.

Monday, November 3rd-
In my 13 years of public school education, I was only absent one day and that was in 2nd grade because I had surgery.  I packed up my things and headed to school as normal….I needed some normalcy in my life and some distraction.

I got to school early (6:30ish) and hit up two of my normal places.

I snuck my way into the athletic locker rooms to put stuff away and the first person I saw that day was a coach who was beaming with a smile and she bid me a “good morning” to which I am sure I replied a dry “morning” to.  I knew she didn’t know at the time, but by afternoon, she came to find me and apologized profusely with her beaming “good morning” etched hard into her mind.  She didn’t know.

After this encounter, I headed over to the training room.  I was really tight with the athletic trainer and it was one of my favorite places to hang out.  I walked into the office and she was busy wrapping up ankles for the football guys that were soon to be headed to practice.  I knew she was busy but I wanted her to find out from me, so I found a sticky note and wrote a quick note about what happened and walked away.  I walked out and headed back towards the locker rooms but I maybe got halfway across the gym when she called out to me and bid me back.  A, you were a rock in my hard place and I am so thankful you walked me through that season and let me walk you through when you faced almost the same within the next year or so. 

Also that morning before school started, 7:15 or 30, I’d guess, I headed over to the counseling department that was settled in to the center of the school (financial aid and migrant counseling).  There were three women that worked in that area and I was close to them all.  I had spent a lot of time in those offices since I was a sophomore so I knew those ladies well and they were dear to my heart.  I sat in the financial aid office first just spacing, trying to figure out how to tell Ms. G but I didn’t know how.  All these women knew my mom.  My mom was a fixture when it came to anything involving me.  My mom was the one that got me and Ms. G connected in the financial aid office knowing that I was going to need all the help I could get for college readiness financially.  Anyway, I didn’t know how to tell Mrs. G, so I popped my head in at the migrant office and told the two ladies there so that they could pass it on because I just couldn’t tell her myself.  They told her and then nearly forced me to return home, but I am wicked stubborn so I stayed and they let me.  They kept a close eye on me though, as did many people.

General School Interactions:
My very first class on Monday mornings was Spanish 3.  It just so happens that October 31st-November 2nd is a Mexican holiday called Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  So of course, in my Spanish class that was going to be the topic of discussion.  I sat down and was writing notes back and forth with one of my good friends in the class.  I can remember it like it was yesterday.  I simply wrote “I lost my mom” to which she replied, “what do you mean, you lost her?”  As only epic timing would have it, as we were passing notes back and forth, my teacher announced to the class that my mom had passed and somehow tied it into Dia de los Muertos.  I looked at my friend and it was like a light bulb turned on so fast, it blew a fuse.  Speaking of blowing a fuse, I was peaved at how that news was handled.  I don’t know what I was expecting though…everyone would find out and yet I showed up to see it all unravel.

My English teacher wasn’t there that Monday so when she returned to class on Friday, the news of mom’s death was old news and assumed knowledge.  She was giving a writing prompt and someone asked her to give an example of what she would write about.  She then began talking about her own mother, who was 99, soon to turn 100 years old, in decent health.  She went on and on about how thankful and grateful she was to still have a mother as my teacher was a grandmother herself.  I felt sick so for the first time ever, I walked out of class.  I couldn’t handle it anymore.  It felt so very unfair.  I felt robbed.

As I was walking in the English hall towards the bathrooms, one of my former teachers stopped me to ask if my mom found me.  I was shocked and asked for clarification.  Turns out my mom was in the building the Friday before looking for me and she had asked my former teacher so he was just touching base.  I said yes she had found me and moved along.  He also later found me, hugged me and apologized.  Talk about epic timing but story of my life….

I got two postboard cards from people at the school.  Signatures and well wishes from close friends and people I didn’t even know.  Several hundred signatures filled up those posterboards.  As much as I muscled through those last two years of high school, I can’t deny that people didn’t try…I just built my walls high.

I remember my friends and teammates who just sat silently by but I was so very thankful.  They didn’t shy away because they didn’t know what to say.  Just stuck by my side.  I remember my coaches, bringing me into the office, letting me sit on top of the tabletop and just letting whatever happened happened.  Sometimes it was listening to me spill, sometimes watching me cry, sometimes asking questions, or speaking wise words.  Always open doors though.  Several of my teachers were the same way.  And as I said before, the training room was always a safe haven as was the counselors office. 

And then there is my family.  My wonderful family who rallied, supported, encouraged and mourned with us.  Thank you for your love, support, guidance, and prayers.  Thank you for as long as I was living down there, keeping up with the tradition of having birthday dinners on birthday months and keeping food and family close.  J 

So to the family, friends, acquaintances who knew mom and saw me through those years after mom passed.  I apologize for my selfishness in the walls I built and leaving them up for years.  But I thank you so much…for being there and understanding….for continuing to understand…for continuing to remember.  For continuing to feed me memories so that I can truly say, that though mom is gone, Hope still lives on.   

Until next time,
May the memories pile on,


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