Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Home Videos

On a weekend away, I spent several hours looking at home videos. It started with my first wedding in 1988. I was pleasantly surprised that it was mostly a warm experience rather than the mournful one I was expecting.

Mom, Randy

I got a laugh out of my brother. He had very little hair back then. He has had new hair for so long now, I forgot why he got the implants to begin with.

Just a couple of months ago, my former mother-in-law found me on Facebook. We started messenging and she sent several that brought tears to my eyes. She wanted to read my books (which I was honored by) so I mailed her copies (this is why I never make money) and included a photo of us from the wedding.

me, John’s mom; photo courtesy of author

Seeing the actual wedding footage now, I was reminded of how serendipitous life can be. I just reconnected with her. Mom has been gone for 13 years now. I find any mother figure in my life to be so comforting. Glad she is back in my life, even though geographically distant. (Although, isn’t everyone distant, compliments of the pandemic?)

A sad moment was remembering that Mom and I were a bit icy during the event. I can’t even remember why. Was it because at the time I was adopting “another” mom? Was I busy getting to know her and ignoring the one who had birthed and raised me?

I didn’t let it bog me down with guilt, though. I know some mother-daughter conflict is “normal”. Mostly I think, it was because, at the end of her life, we were very close. She was my best friend. Whenever I expressed it, she would lovingly say, “Stop saying that. I’m not your friend. I’m your mother.”

LOL.

I’ve always felt like I’ve got an exceptional support system. It didn’t escape me as I looked at the bridal party and guests that so many people traveled across the country to attend. Even parents of friends. To me, that’s an honor.

As I watched on, the unexpected (and cruel) deaths hit me. First and foremost my beautiful niece, who was still darling despite missing a front tooth. She died in an automobile accident at age 10.

One of our groomsmen died just in the last couple of years. He had a motorcycle accident and then his wife went through several grueling weeks in the hospital, only to lose him.

The life cycle. Who would have thought looking back 32 years would have such a powerful message now.


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Memories

Last night, we had a friend over and Frankie allowed me to get out a dvd of his dance recital when he was three. He was the only boy in his group and he totally stole the show. He doesn’t usually let me watch it so I jumped at his agreement. We laughed and laughed and he kept having me rewind it.

Of course, it was also past his bedtime, but he kept getting me with his manipulative comment of “But Mom, we hardly ever get family time together.” Smartie pants.

We got another dvd. This one he was about 8-16 months old. We had a riot. I forgot that even back then he did an awful lot of performing. He squealed almost continually and Frankie finally asked “How did you guys ever get any sleep?” My dad was getting more quiet the crazier we got. I figured he was annoyed that it was getting so late.

But then it hit me.

I’m sure he was annoyed at the time, but it was also an evening that was BITTER SWEET to the nth degree. In living color, there was my mom, my husband, and our kitty Oreo, all still living and breathing. Wow, how fast life can drastically change.

We lost mom about six years ago. I can’t even believe it was that long ago. She was crazy, like me, and encouraged Frankie’s craziness. She would get such a kick out of him now.

A couple of particularly poignant moments that took my breath away. The first one was on Frankie’s first birthday. There sat Oreo on the chair with Tim standing next to him. It was a shot of the two of them. Who would have ever dreamed than in seven years, they would both pass away within a couple of months of each other? Both from cancer. Weird. Sad.

The second, was of Tim crawling around our living room floor on all fours. Frankie was sprawled on his back, flat as a pancake, giggling at the fun ride. Then he would slip off and scramble clumsily to get back on. Tim looked into the camera and said “This footage is for 15 years from now. When Frankie is a teenager, he can look back at this and remember how much his Dad loved him.” I looked at my friend. She looked at me. And I swallowed hard.

Overall, it was a great night of memories and laughter. Sweet. Very, very sweet. Laced with a background of bitter. Ah, such is life, right?