“Make sure you tell the people you love that you love them.
Loudly and often.”
Working at a funeral home is messing with my life, you guys. Duh, right? Of course it is. It would be weird if it wasn’t. Who can spend their days around death and grief and loss and not have it shake things up a bit?
At first I thought the constant reminder of my mortality would make me crazy and skyrocket my anxiety, the “I have a headache; I think I’m dying because so-and-so died after he had a headache” kind of anxiety. But it’s not.
As I watch these sweet families gather to mourn and laugh and cry and hug and share stories, something is happening simultaneously inside of me. I have this deep, down-in-my-gut desire to immediately circle up with my people and do and say the same things while we are all still here. I want to look my tribe in the eye and hold their hands while I eulogize.
“I love you.”
“I’m so grateful for you.”
“I see this in you…”
“I’m so proud of you for…”
“Thank you for…”
This is about as cliché as it gets, but I can’t stop thinking about how I need to tell all the people I know all the time all about how much I love them. (Clichés become clichés usually because they are true!) Being around so much death is reawakening me to the preciousness of life. I have so much gratitude for my life and the people in it. I get so busy and preoccupied and self absorbed, I forget to tell them, I don’t think to tell them, I sometimes don’t care to tell them how thankful I am for them. I so want that to change.
Tonight was a step in the right direction.
Tonight I had the chance to tell my mom how much I love her. We surprised her with an amazing 70th birthday party at the fabulous Old Goat and I had the privilege of giving a toast. You can read it or watch part of it below!
I Just Need My Mom
I read a quote the other day that said, “No matter how old she may be, sometimes a girl just needs her mom.”
Ain’t that the truth? That’s how mom would say it.
Twelve years ago I had just had Jack, my first baby, and I was walking in a parking lot lugging his big, old baby carrier when I tripped and went face first into the pavement. Jack was fine; I was a mess. My nose and my lip were bleeding and cut up. I got myself up and to the car and in that moment, all I could think was, “I want, I need my mom.” I called her and told her what happened and instantly she said, “I’m coming. I’ll be right there.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard those exact words from her throughout my entire life.
She met me at my house with her nurse’s kit the size of a suitcase. I swear, she could sterilize a room and perform several surgeries with the contents of this thing. I’m not quite sure how she obtained all of these items: the IV bags, the needles, the gauze, the forceps. This woman has the hook ups. And it’s not just the supplies that she brings her in bag of tricks, it’s her vocabulary that also has a magical healing power. As soon as I hear her voice I start to feel better. “Oh come here sweetheart, sweetie, honey, baby, we’ll get you all fixed up.” I sat down and she worked her magic on my wounds and instantly I was so much better. I just needed my mom.
My mom has this amazing ability to always make it seem like she’s having the time of her life when she’s taking care of you. Now let me be clear, a quick aside…my mom does not have the time of her life when other people are taking care of you. Lord have mercy on the nurse who couldn’t start an IV in my arm. Hell hath no fury like my mom and a “nincompoop” nurse with “incompetent” vein-finding skills. My mom has literally moved a nurse out of the way to finish the job herself. She’ll mutter…“Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” But I digress.
She loves taking care of people. She loves taking care of me. Not once have I ever felt like an inconvenience to her…now bring all four of our kids over and our big dog and that’s a little bit of a different story. But whenever I’ve needed her, really needed her, she’s there. No matter what time day or night, my mom is ready for whatever I bring her way. I’ve called at 2 a.m. because I think I’m dying from some weird ailment, a trait I inherited directly from her, and she’s instantly awake to listen, to talk, to diagnose. And then after I finish she’ll say, “Now sweetie, if you need me or you get nervous, you just call me back. I have the phone right here.”
My mom is always up for a chat, a hangout, a lunch, dinner (usually at Sean’s (Tokyo Grill) or Juan’s (El Arriero) because my mom has befriended the staff and owners and everyone knows her by name and she knows all their names). She’s always down for some retail therapy (usually at TJ Maxx or Target or Nordy’s as she calls them…where many people also know her by name). Every time I ask her to go out and do something she says, “Ooohhh, I’d love that.”
And every time I talk to her on the phone, without fail, she asks me, “Do you need anything, sweetie?” She’s usually referring to toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent and cleaning products because she knows that without her it could be days or even weeks before I restock after we run out. She’ll pull up to our house with car loads of supplies for me, something she refers to as her duty, mostly for the sake of her grandchildren’s hygiene and health.
Now growing up I didn’t realize how incredible these traits in my mom were. We’ve always had a close relationship, with the exception of the time I bought a really short pair of jean shorts and my mom took one look at them and marched right back into the store and berated the young girl who sold them to me. That was tense. But no matter what, I could always tell her anything, ask her anything. There was never any shame or fear or judgment. My mom made our home and our relationship safe and secure.
I always knew she was special. I didn’t know a lot of other moms like her and I didn’t have many friends who loved hanging out with their mom or traveling with their mom like I did. But I didn’t realize just how special she was until I became a mom myself. See, showing up, listening, being present, being available, being generous, never being inconvenienced, those don’t seem like super glamorous or glittery qualities when you’re young. It’s only now that I’m able to understand how remarkable they truly are and how truly remarkable she is. I could go on and on about what she’s taught me and what I admire about her: her incredible work ethic, her love and acceptance for everybody, how she taught me that women can be and do anything they want to and even make more money than men, but that list would take all night.
I would like to raise a glass to my mom for the countless “I’m comings,” “I’ll be right theres,” “Call me backs,” “Honeys,” “Babys,” “Sweeties,” and “What do you needs?” I love you and I couldn’t be any more grateful for you.