Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chocolate cherry cake in Heaven

Today is my mother-in-laws birthday. We will celebrate by going to one of her favorite restaurants. We will then go hang out at the ball field and watch one of her grandsons play baseball while our other two kids run around and be adorable and get filthy. She would have loved every minute of it. She will not be here with us to celebrate her 67th year. She passed away this past February and everyday since we have been missing her presence and learning to live life without her.

The following words are bits and pieces of posts that I have started and never finished since she died. Thoughts that have been swirling in my head that I needed to get down on paper. Bear with me if the words and paragraphs seem choppy and don't flow well. Today just feels like the right time to post them - unfinished - much like her life that ended much too soon.

The whole thing at times still feels like a bad dream. I can’t believe that if I went to the house and walked inside she won’t be there. Still in her pajamas, bathrobe and slippers – talking to someone on the phone until she notices us and tells them “Sorry honey, I have to go -my babies are here.” I can’t believe I can’t call over there and hear her pick up the phone and say “hello” in her voice that she described as “a little sharp”. I can’t believe that she won’t be calling me from her cell phone while out shopping to ask me for the hundredth time what size the kids are wearing because she just found the most darling outfit ever. Mostly, I can’t believe that my children will grow up without her as such a presence in their lives.

Surreal – I have a hard time trying to get my head around it.

Have I told you about the boots? Around last Thanksgiving, Lyn asked me if Hailey had boots for the winter. I told her that she did - she fit perfectly into Evan's old boots. Lyn asked me if they were pink. I looked at her kind of funny and told her that since Evan was a boy we decided against the pink boots. They were black. Nice and unisexy. She asked me what size Hailey was in because in her opinion she needed pink boots and that is what she was going to get for Christmas. She followed through and Hailey did indeed get a cute pair of pink and fluffy boots for Christmas. Lyn was so excited about them. She had gotten both girls, Hailey and Madisyn, boots and wanted a picture of them together with their boots. The boots were a big deal. Days later, I tried to put the boots on her. They were the same size as the black boots that fit great. They should have easily fit her, but they did not. Those boots did not want to go on her feet for anything. I was totally frustrated and looked through all of our Christmas bags and boxes for the receipt. I figured that I would return them. They were an extravagance that she didn't need in the first place - she had boots- and these just didn't fit - I could return them for something else that she actually needed and could wear. Long story short - I couldn't find the receipt and I didn't have the heart to ask Lyn if she had it because of her excitement about the boots. I figured they would sit in the closet and hopefully would be passed on to Mira so somebody would be able to get some use out of them. Weeks later I had a dentist appointment and Lyn and Dan were going to watch Hailey and Evan for me. For some reason (that I think I know now) I decided to try to put the boots on Hailey to wear over there. It was a struggle - like minutes of time on each foot to get on boots that should take about a couple seconds a foot to put on - but I got them on her. Lyn noticed right away that she was wearing them and was LOVING them. I warned her to leave them on her because I would not be long and they were sort of a pain to get on. (Sort of a pain - was a major understatement to spare her feelings). That was the last time Lyn would ever see her - wearing those boots. She died three days later. Since she died, Hailey has worn the boots quite often. And the kicker is -they are not hard to get on anymore, in fact, they slide on like butter. It is not often that I actually get to see God working in my life, but this was one of those times. I know that Grama is behind it, making sure that her precious granddaughter is parading around in those pink, fluffy boots.

She was a woman of great faith and I know that fact is helping those that loved her get through their grief as they continue on in this life without her. She was a woman who believed in God and the power of prayer. It is hard to know sometimes if and what people believe in when it comes to God. I never felt squeamish about it around her - if I asked her to pray about something, I knew she would - and she would pray her heart out. I actually feel like I have an advocate in heaven now looking after my family. Anyone that knew Lyn knows that she will not stand for a glimpse of the Big Guy - she will insist on and somehow make her way into His inner circle. That is just the kind of person she was. She knew many priests that she called good friends. One of the best was working in Italy when she died. He called the Sunday after her death to tell us that he had said the mass in her honor that day at the Vatican. The VATICAN! In calling to inform her other priest friends that she had passed - they all expressed interest in speaking at her funeral. Her services were prayed and said by three different priests. I remember sitting in the car after the funeral with Trent and his Dad while we were waiting for the funeral procession to the cemetery to begin. I asked Dan if he had ever been to a funeral with three priests officiating before. He laughed through his tears and said no. I told him that I thought that Lyn would be pretty happy with that funeral. Three priests - who did she think she was? She would have been thrilled and extremely touched.

I noticed at her visitation and the days leading up to it when people call or stop by to offer condolences, how much of an affect she had on so many people. Boys that her sons grew up with that are now men grieved as if she were their own mother. They remembered how she had made them feel like part of her family by providing them with food, hospitality and mothering that maybe they were not getting enough of at home. It made me wonder if I am that kind of a mother to my kids' friends and made me feel a little inferior when I realized that my annoyance with them most of the time, led me to believe that I wasn't. I carry that with me now when my kids have friends over. I strive to be like Lyn in the way that I treat them and the way they see me. Other people commented to Trent and his brothers that their mother had saved their life. I don't even know how to comment on that. By mentoring and counseling to people with substance abuse issues and realizing that you made a difference - that is so huge. Many people said that to them - not one isolated case ( and in coming to the end of your life, knowing that your being on this Earth saved ONE person - that is a pretty significant life) but that your life saved MANY. Again, I have no words...

She accomplished a lot during her time here on Earth, but I can't help but feel like she had more to do. There was so much that she didn't get to see. She loved her grand kids with everything that she had and they all have so much growing up to do that she will not be around to see. Sporting events. Award ceremonies. Proms. Graduations. Weddings. Those events would have been the highlights of her life. It feels so wrong that she waited almost fourteen years to have another granddaughter and was so thrilled that she got one and she will not even get to spoil her in the way that she wanted. Hailey will only know her through stories and memories. It seems so unfair and unfinished.

A life unfinished, along with a Christmas stocking for her last grandchild. Come on Lyn! Are you kidding me? You think I have time to learn how to do counted cross stitch?

She would find that statement hilarious. I know that where she is, she is laughing right now.

Happy Birthday Lyn! We all love and miss you so much!


dr said...

This is a beautiful tribute to Lyn, Jen. She was a wonderful and generous woman on so many levels. I can understand why having her gone is such a big loss to your family. She was also clearly such a woman of faith - and that seems to have such an impact on so many. Beautiful, moving post. Happy Birthday, Lyn.

jensenbo said...

What beautiful, touching words for a dear lady, your mother-in-law. Everytime I read it, it brings tears to my eyes. Lyn would have loved every word of it. She did love her grandchildren with all her being. It makes me so sad that she is not able to share in their lives --- they are all such great kids and I know she would be so very proud of everyone one of them, especially her "2 bookends". :)