Friday, May 18, 2012

The Little Things

"I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.  And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God."
Ecclesiastes 3:12,13 (KJV)

It's the little things I miss...the most.

When Kevin leaves for work and evening shadows begin to fall, a feeling of profound emptiness pervades the atmosphere of our home....and my heart.

Our daily routine used to be this...

Mornings and early afternoons were spent as family time....probably similar to the evenings of other families who work first shift.
Breakfast, family worship, then time spent together...either doing yard work, other projects, or something relaxing. 
When Kevin left for work, Zachary and I would get in earnest about school and work until we got it done.

Then Mom would call me, or I would call her, and we would make our evening plans.

It wasn't that we did anything extravagant or elaborate.
To those who are used to more exciting adventures, I suppose the things I miss so severely would seem most uninteresting....and dull.
To me, they were wonderful and comforting and they brought such peace.
Thinking of them now, brings such an empty, inconsolable void.

We would either take her whatever she wanted to eat, or Zach and I would go pick her up, and the three of us would go out to eat someplace simple.
Some days, she felt like she was physically able to leave her apartment.  
Other days, she didn't.
Some days, she wanted something homemade...she dearly loved most anything I cooked.
She never wanted to be a bother or a burden.
It always took us a while...every, single day...to decide for sure, because we both kept leaving it up to the other, and neither of us wanted to decide....how we wanted to share our evening.

She loved to go to Publix.
It reminded her of happy memories of our life together...in Florida....when Dad was by her side.
We always loved that store.
Their selection of brands is wonderful, and we can always seem to find what we need.
I dearly love the fact that the upper management philosophy of Publix is of a Christian mindset.
They even place protective covers over magazines in the checkout line that have immodest pictures or contain immoral language and conversation on the covers.

I absolutely love shopping there.

Recently, they built a new one about 33 miles from our home, and Mom loved for Zachary and me to take her there.
We would go in and get the wheelchair, bring it out, then wheel her in.
She loved to go in and look around and see what they had available.
She would enjoy seeing Zachary relish the samples they hand out by the produce department.
She would laugh, because many times we would have just eaten before we got there, and she would wonder where he was putting it all.  

We would take our time and savor the moments.

I cannot begin to say how glad I am that we did.

There was a little, elderly man who works there who Zach always teased Mom about.
For some reason, Zach calls him the little, Scottish man...something about his accent.

Anyhow, he would sometimes go out to the car with Mom and Zach when we were finished shopping, while I was paying for things, and he would help Mom in to the car.  
Zach would get such a kick out of this, and he would tell me about it later.
He would say, "Mama, he got right up next to her face when he was helping her!"

All three of us would laugh and laugh.

How I miss the little things!

We loved to work on jigsaw puzzles together.
For Christmas last year, we bought her one of the boxes that contains ten of them.
She and I were working our way through the box.
We would eat together...she in her favorite chair at the table with me sitting at the other end across from her.  When she was finished eating, she would move to the chair next to me, and we would work on the puzzle for hours...sometimes talking, sometimes just enjoying being together...not saying a word.

 I remember sitting there realizing how precious our time really was.
I remember looking at her hands....a lot.
They were becoming so frail...so elderly.
They would bruise so easily..her skin was so thin.
She would say, "Cheryl, look at this bruise.  Doesn't it look awful?"

We had completed three....of the ten puzzles....in the box.

We found them...neatly completed on pieces of cardboard...under the spare bed in her room....as we were emptying her apartment.

My heart shattered when I saw them....lying there.  
She treasured them.  
She had mentioned asking my brother-in-law, LD, to build frames for them.  

I cried so hard....wishing, longing to do a puzzle with her....just once more.

I had actually started a new one....the evening we were waiting for the ambulance to come...
as we talked in her living room.
It was still lying on the floor, by her recliner chair, where I had left it.
Incomplete.  
Undone.  
The way I feel inside.
A stark reminder that if this one gets finished.....I will finish it alone.
Without her help.  Without her sitting by my side. 
Without hearing her say how pretty it is....when it is finished.

Every year for Christmas, Mom would buy her girls gift cards for Bath and Body Works.
Every year, sometime in January, Debbie would meet Mom and me at the mall, and we would bring along her wheelchair so she could go in and watch us spend our gift cards.
She loved watching Debbie and me pick out our favorite things.
She would laugh because she said we had to stop and smell every, single thing in the store...before we made our final decisions.

The other day, I had to buy Zach's new clothes...to wear to Mom's funeral.
I hated the thoughts of going in that mall...the memories were way too overwhelming.
Debbie and her family went with us, and we helped each other through......always careful to avoid the part where Bath and Body Works is located.

It just hurts too much.
Everything hurts.
I can look at the smallest thing, and I can see Mom in it.

Yesterday, I was cooking a meal.
I looked at the clock.
It was 11:26 am.
She hadn't called me yet.
I felt worry rise within me....I hoped she was okay.
I turned to reach for the phone.
Reality hit
.
Dear precious Lord, what I wouldn't give to call her number one...more...time.
What I wouldn't give to hear the phone ring and see her name on the Caller ID.
What it would be worth to me to see her sitting across our kitchen table from me...
talking, laughing, playing a board game with us, being silly with Zach.....just once more.

Every evening, as the sun goes down, I cry...where do all these tears come from?
Will they ever stop?

I cling to the smallest things....to remind me of her.

The smell of her favorite lotion....the toss pillow she kept on her bed.....her purse...the little wooden chest Zachary and I painted lavender and on which we stenciled the word "Nana".

I use it now to hold all of the beautiful sympathy cards from caring friends, some dried flowers from her casket spray, and the "Mom" banner that was attached to the flowers.

Yesterday, we moved one of her beds into our spare bedroom.  
I made it up...the way she did....then I laid back on it and cried...for a very long time.

I miss her smile....the welcoming hug she always gave us as we walked in the door....
the kiss good-bye....
the "Call me when you get there, so I'll know you made it okay" as I was leaving each night....
the "I'll be praying for you"....
the "Keep encouraged, Cheryl.  Don't give up.  Heaven will surely be worth it all".

She loved that song.
She tried her utmost to sing along with me, as I sang it to her one day in ICU.

"Often I'm hindered on my way,
Burdens so heavy, I almost fall;
Then I hear Jesus sweetly say,
Heaven will surely be worth it all."

"Heaven will surely be worth it all,
Worth all the sorrows that here befall;
After this life, with all its strife,
Heaven will surely be worth it all."

"Weeping and pain, I will endure,
'Til I shall hear the death angel call;
Jesus has promised, and I'm sure,
Heaven will surely be worth it all."



My voice had trembled that day...and broken...several times...while trying to sing it.
The BiPap was so forceful, I could barely hear her voice...trying to sing it with me.
I could see her lips...mouthing the words.

I asked our dear friends to sing that song...at the graveside.
They did a wonderful job.

How I will miss singing with her!
How many songs have we sang together...through the years?

I'll miss...oh, how I'll miss...her sitting beside us in church...her arms raised in worship, her voice singing and praising God, tears of joy and glory streaming down her upturned, sweet face!

I miss our trips to Dunkin' Donuts, our times at the park sitting by the water, our trips to the thrift stores, and Walmart.....so many, many memories.

It was the little things....that meant more to me than anything else.

It is the little things....that I will continue to miss the most.


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