A year, and then some.

January 30th, 2010.

A year ago today, it was freezing on the east coast.

I was receiving phone calls, texts, and emails from friends and family that flights were cancelled, or that they couldn’t leave their homes due to icy roads as the snowplows hadn’t made it by.

In Columbia, the gathering for Mom’s graveside memorial was taking place. By the time we got to the cemetery it was clear that although there was a small break in the storm, the skies had more to give. The minister, Ken Owens, a neighbor of Mom’s growing up and friend to both my parents, suggested that the gathering was arranged just as mom would have it. Everyone laughed, realizing that, indeed, strangers and friend alike were all huddled under umbrellas, wrapping each other with warmth as mom would on a cold day.

I have tried to look for that warmth since mom passed on January 14th of last year. I sought out pictures, recordings of both audio and video from our time in Houston and before, and even looked for it when I decided to take her bedroom as my own once I had a roommate move into the house. However, I found it none of these places.

As the ice started falling, one of my best friends and truly one of mom’s, too, got up to speak. Ren delivered a message that people still comment on to this day. In it reflected on mom’s character, making points that were agreed upon all around. Our friend Hannah, who flew out at mom’s request to play violin at the funeral, played two beautiful pieces, despite the weather. Our good friend George Cannon spoke also, as did I, and then slowly everyone made their way off, many coming to Ashland UMC for a gathering.

Remembering that day and all the warm words, memories, laughs and tears that were shared, only now do I know that the warmth is found is what is given, not what is sought. The warmth has come from unexpectedly finding notes mom had left around the house for me over the years. It has come from an old friend who didn’t know she passed away sharing a story of her that I’d never heard. It came when I wrote the word “Mom” in the snow and hit my head on her windchimes which I’d forgotten were hanging there. It came even today when I was taking a short video at the graveyard and a trains horn let loose immediately when I had finished recording. A courtesy mom would have allowed but given a sly grin about – possibly emoting the words “toot-toot” or “choo-choo” and throwing a smile.

Following the funeral and the gathering afterwords, all of my friends, many who had come from all over the country, all gathered for dinner downtown. Hilarity ensued, as did fun and games and a fellowship that will not be forgotten. Many use the time after someones passing for grieving, but Mom had told me that, although I may grieve her, she would be pissed off (her words) if I sat around depressed. I figured I had to get right on not being depressed or it would be hard to get out of the rut.

So far, I’ve been successful. I miss her greatly, but I continue to move forward and share her story, our story‚Ķ so that others may know what a positive spirit she had.
There are hurdles, no doubt. Others have struggled in her absence, some will continue to, and I imagine even I will at times. But I knew as I stood by her grave, one year to the day since her funeral, and in beautiful sixty degree weather that she was there, and will continue to be there, and her influence will be given and discovered time and again throughout my life, and perhaps yours as well.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the past year and it’s passing in my life. Thank you for your support, memories, and laughter. Thank you for your friendship and your love, and for continuing on in the face of loss.

Keep being awesome.


P.S. To see what Ren said at the memorial, click here.

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