Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Life is good

Back in July I applied for a temporary "job" in my company. Every year my company sends one person to the local United Way to work for three months as a loaned employee. I couldn't believe it when they picked me to do it! I work for a huge company, and it's well known that up-and-comers are sent for this assignment. Me! But more then that, it meant that instead of being in my stuffy office for three months, I was going to be out doing good in the community.

I've been at it now for almost three and a half months, and I've never had more fun in my professional life. As a Loaned Executive (that's what they call us, isn't it silly?), I have about 35 companies assigned to me and it's my job to help them during their giving campaigns. So I spend my time having brainstorming meetings with the companies' campaign leads, I give presentations to every walk of life, I flip pancakes, scoop ice cream, draw raffle tickets, and whatever else they need me to do. I'm having a blast, and I'm heartbroken that it has to end eventually.

The very best part of this whole experience has been visiting the agencies that receive funding from the United Way. I had no idea what was going on in my own community! I've visited children's shelters, group homes, mens shelters, food banks... and tomorrow I'm going to the Foundation for Blind Children.

While I still can't believe my incredible luck at having this opportunity, it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. My mom spent her career helping those who needed help, and I was so proud to visit her in the hospital and see how excited she was to hear about all the agencies I was visiting, and all the good I was doing. But more then that, I don't know how I would have gotten through this without something really good going on in my life. I know how fortunate I am to have had a wonderful mother, and I'm reminded that every day when I hear stories of children who have grown up without even the dream of that.

I only have 2 weeks left of this, and I'm trying my best to suck it all up as much as I can. Gotta go back to my real life soon. *sigh*

Monday, October 20, 2008

Like a kid in a.... jewelry store

My mom was the classiest lady I know, and she had impeccable taste.  I, sadly, got very little of that passed on through my genes.  I'm totally lost in a clothing store, and I just recently started carrying a purse (a fact which is making my friend africankelli giddy).  Anyway, my mom could pull off almost any sort of jewelry.  Fancy, costume, big, bold, eclectic...  My dad was kind enough to let me have most of my mom's jewelry.  So on her birthday, a week after she died, my dad, my brother, my husband and I decided we would tackle just that one thing in the long, horrible process of going through someone's lifetime of possessions.  

So, I went into my mom's closet, and you would not believe what I found.  My creative, practical mom had converted a giant fishing box into the mother of all jewelry boxes.  


Right?!  She has every little tiny drawer labeled with what's in there.  So I brought this out to show my family, and we had a really good time looking at all the wonderful things she had in there.  A lot of it was pieces that she'd made herself, including she has a whole collection of necklaces made from beautiful shells she found on the beach.  I know these necklaces well, because even in the hospital she insisted on looking classy, down to the jewelry.  And these necklaces always seemed to come with her.  I know why...  the beach was just so important to her.  But for me, I know that some of those shells came from when she and I were walking on the beach together, just the two of us, in Florida this last January.  

I was so overwhelmed by it all, that we decided that I should take the box home and decide what to keep, and what to give away.  So I've had this box for 2 weeks now, and I realized this last week that every single morning I've been walking to the guest room, where I put the box, to see if there's anything of my mom's that I can encorporate.  I've been feeling really guilty about the whole thing because it's just so much fun to have something new and different every day, but how can I feel happy about something like that?  I KNOW my mom would be thrilled that I'm enjoying it so much, but you know...  

A really thing has happened since my mom died.  I actually started caring about fashion.  Not just "eh, I think I should get a new shirt....", I've actually been lusting after things.  If you knew me, you'd know this is out of character.  I've gone purse shopping TWO DAYS IN A ROW this week.  (Sadly, didn't buy anything.  Did you know that cool purses are over $100?!)

I know a lot of it has to do with the fact that I've heard so much in the last few weeks how much I remind people of my mom, but I definitely have a lot of work to do to catch up with her.  And no, I'm not just talking superficially.  I've also heard countless times in the last few weeks how people never met anyone like my mom; she had infinite patience and compassion for every type of person.  And if there were a store to get that, I'd be shopping for that too....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Food for the Heart

Before 2 weeks ago I'd never seen anyone dead, and I'd never been to a funeral.  This is all such a weird thing to go through.  I think the hardest thing is, for the rest of the people in my world who loved my mother, when she died everyone was just so sad, and there was so much to be done and things to be taken care of.  But now, 2 weeks on, they've moved on.  As well they should!  Life goes on!  But I wasn't prepared to have everyone move on at the same time that it's just starting to set in for me.  Does that make sense?

It is so hard for me to listen about other people's days, plans for the holidays, fights with friends or family members, because none of that feels as real as how much I miss my mom. 

Don't misunderstand, I'm not feeling like people should constantly be talking about my mom or asking if I'm ok.  It's just so weird that now it's finally setting in, that she's gone forever, and life has already moved on around me.  

And the further away time goes from when she's alive, the harder it feels.  Like I'm just getting further away from my mom.   Are people going to forget how wonderful and special she was?  Will I forget what it felt like to have her hand on my arm or what her voice sounded like?  And really, it has been 3 weeks, but I've caught myself saying 2 weeks.  Because it feels better.

I haven't meant to find things that remind me of my mom, but it's impossible.  She's everywhere in my life.   And aren't I luck for that!  I don't know if Ryan and I will have kids some day, but I know that if I do, they'll know my mom, even if they never met her.  


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I do remember a lot of things about my mom from when I was younger, but not enough.  She's been sick for two and a half years, and I'm so sad that right now those are my most vivid memories of her.  She would hate to be remembered that way, but in truth who she was really shone when she was sick.  My mom was incredibly funny and strong.  She wrote poems and songs about her sickness, about the monitors in her hospital room that were constantly beeping, about the nurses... She had AML leukemia and spent quite a lot of time trying to come up with better definitions for AML (Arise Mom!  Leave!).  All that is who she really was.

I'm really trying to think about all that good stuff, but it's just so hard to think back to a time when she was just my mom, not my mom who was sick.  

I got to spend a lot of time with her when she was in the hospital, which we both knew was a gift.  We'd never really been allowed just time for me and her before.  I know how precious our time together was. Ryan asked me last week when she and I talked about, but I couldn't remember.  I think that's because  it wasn't like she spent 2 years telling me life lessons.  We just were there, friends, chatting about life.  

My mom was the best cook.  She was a magician in the kitchen and could whip up something amazing from nothing.  She always told me that she was so surprised that I cook now, because I never showed interest in cooking with her.  I don't regret not cooking with her.  She was just amazing to watch.  And I hope that I'm half the chef she is.  Was.  

Still not used to that.  Was.  And you know what?  Most of the time I don't even correct myself.  Do you now that poem about someone being just around the corner?  I really feel like that.  She's just out of reach.  I feel like I could still pick up the phone and call her.  

I feel pretty good today.  Last night was not good.  Today was better.  And maybe tomorrow something good will happen.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I have gone back and forth about this blog. But then something happened to remind me how important it is for me to write down my life.....somewhere....

My mom died.

I don't know how else to say it, and even if I wrote it over and over 50 times, it wouldn't make it any more real.

She died 2 weeks ago, and tonight is my very first night alone since. I knew it was going to be hard, so I planned a night to keep myself busy. TV shows neglected, thank-you notes for flowers and food to write, pictures from a recent vacation to go through... But still, every once and a while I get a jolt of a real memory. My mom holding my hand. Petting my arm with her long soft fingers. Walking gracefully. And it's too much.

I haven't cried much. I don't remember much about the day that she died, but I know I was a little hysterical at times. But always my husband's arms were there. Since then it's been a flurry of things to take care of and other people to comfort. And I'm afraid that all the sadness is right there but I'm letting it build up, and I'm afraid it's going to come out all at once.

I think I should be crying more, but there were so many nights when she was sick that I cried for her. I worried constantly. I dreaded the future. And now the future is here. But still, I don't know why I'm not crying more.

I am just 30 and I have no mom. I may have children one day, but they'll never know her. I have so much more in life to go through that I needed her to be there for.

And I just miss her.

So I think for a while I'm going to just remember my mom here. I don't want to forget a single thing about her, and I hope that if I write down what I know and what I remember, she won't go away completely. I am so afraid I'm going to forget her.

about me

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    Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

    I'm Amanda. I'm an engineer in an industry full of men, a professional wedding and family portrait photographer, a firefighter's wife, a traveler, and a dogMa.

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