It’s amazing to think that I lived in the same house most of my life. My parents bought the house in the early 70’s. They were married right at of high school (at the very young age of 20) and bought the house shortly after that. I was born a few years later and spent my childhood, teenage years and even some of my adulthood living in that house. There were bedroom changes when my brother came along, family room additions, the pitter patter of puppy paws, and decor upgrades, but it has always been a place I’ve called home. The memories are bursting at the seams, and at the moment, they hang like a thick cloud near the ceiling. I know one day these moments will bring me great joy. I need to keep this thought close. My father invited us over for dinner tonight. I haven’t spent much time at my parent’s house since my mom’s passing. I’ve been there a few times to gather things or pay a quick visit, however when I’m really there, memories come flooding in like a tidal wave. It consumes me to the point where I feel like I can’t even catch my breath. They’re memories of my mother cooking in the kitchen, dancing to whatever music was playing on the tv. Memories of hand-picked Christmas trees being trimmed down to size because of my mother’s over-estimation. Memories of playing board games and barbies in the family room and chasing my brother around the house when he didn’t want to go to bed. Memories of my parents marching me to bed every night then my mother tucking me in to the Lawrence Welk goodnight song. Memories of pool parties, birthdays and graduation. Memories of late night television watching with my mother as she fought the hardest battle of her life.
I sit on my father’s couch and wonder how this happened. How I’m a 33 year old woman without her mother. I get angry, thinking 32 years wasn’t enough. There were far more memories to make. Far more moments that I would have wanted my mother to see and experience with me. Every day I find myself asking why. It’s a question that I can’t answer, yet I ask it everyday.
Going to my parent’s house is a difficult experience for me, yet I want to be there. I want to remember her. I want to open up drawers seeing remnants of her. I want to see her shoes still thrown in the corner, her pictures still hanging on the walls, her earrings still on the bathroom counter. I want to imagine she’s still here, like she’s just running errands and she’ll be back at any moment.
Years ago my mom worked as a Kindergarten aide. She worked alongside a dear friend of hers, Mary, who is still a teacher today. Around the holidays, the two of them would get together to have a bake-a-thon. Mary would bring her heavy duty KitchenAid mixer over and they would create the most delectable confections until the wee hours of the morning. I would stay up as late as I could taste testing and helping. My mother desperately wanted one of those stand mixers, and made do with a smaller Sunbeam one from Walmart for years and years. One year for my mom’s birthday, I bought her one. It was a basic white model, but she acted like I had given her the world. She placed it proudly on her kitchen counter and eventually gave it to me when she upgraded to a larger model months before she passed away. I still have that first KitchenAid and now, I also have her second. My father wanted me to bring it to my house, and now it sits proudly on my own counter.
Each time I walk into my kitchen and see it, I will think one extra thought of her.
There are no words to truly capture my sorrow, but stories like these that help fill the void.