Monday, September 24, 2012

Memorials and 'Mom'

Remember when a day off from school really meant a day off?

Neither do I.

But today was one of those scheduled days off.

When I took a look at my school calendar this past summer, I have to admit, I did a double-take. And then I got to scheduling appointments.

I won't go into each and every appointment. Bo-ring. Let me briefly mention the two that happen to represent the very best and worst life has to offer me right now.

Let's do the worst first.

Does it get any worse than making a trip to Lincoln to finalize your daughter's headstone? Let me tell you, it ranks right up there with selecting a casket, designating pall bearers, and picking up the death certificate. I can think of about 10 million things I'd rather do.

But Scott's been after me to get. it. done. Since, like, May. I'm not even kidding. That's when we started this whole pain-staking process. So why doesn't he just do it himself?

Seriously though.

Do you know who monument places market their materials to?

Not 9 year olds.

Let's face it. You're not supposed to die until you've lived a long, happy life filled with home mortgages and home movie footage.

And just how do you go about summing up a life so beautiful on a slab of granite?

You don't.

I finally figured that out today. No stone. No picture. No (ridiculous) dates can adequately depict who our daughter was (or anyone who passes, really).

But do you know what can?

Take a stroll through the cemetery and just look at the trinkets that have been left by those who knew and loved her. Pinwheels. Flowers. Messages. Dogs. Cats. And more. Then you'll catch a glimpse of what this little girl meant to a mom and dad, grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.


I told you it was bad.

Let's shift gears for a second and talk about an appointment I was actually looking forward to today.

Lunch with a certain 5 year old.

By the look on his face, he was looking forward to it too.

I've always said Isaac's smile is infectious. It doesn't matter how craptastic your day has been, when he smiles, you smile. And when he smiles, he smiles with his whole face - eyes and all.

So there I was patiently waiting outside the kindergarten classroom as each little one stood in line for their spritz of hand sanitizer when Isaac spotted me. A smile and a wave.

We walked as single file as two people holding hands possibly could, grabbed our napkins, straws, spoons and forks and sat down to a delicious lunch of chicken tortellini. Isaac opted for PB & J.

Lunch was, well, lunch. Probably more talking than eating going on (but isn't that how it always is).

And that 5-year-old boy was absolutely beaming.

So was I.

Then it was recess. Like a perfect host, Isaac refused to leave me alone on the playground. So he showed me how he could climb the "carrots," slide down the slide, and sit on a bench. We spent a lot of time sitting on a bench. And talking.

Do you know how many times I got to do that with Addie?

Five years in elementary school and I was able to have lunch with her twice.


Once when I was on maternity leave and once when I had the day before Thanksgiving off and she didn't. Last year, when my schedule loosened up a bit, it was too late.

She was in middle school and parents just don't do that anymore (her words, not mine).

So anyway, back to recess.

Boys were chasing girls. Girls were chasing boys. And both boys and girls were making their way across the monkey bars.

That's when a little first grade boy stopped me and said, "Hey, are you Addie's mom?"

"Yes," I said.

"I'm sorry about Addie."

I said thanks and he went back to the monkey bars, but not without making quite an impression on me.

First, this kid was able to accomplish what so many adults find so incredibly difficult to do. Trust me, I get it. Before this, you could put me in the group of people afraid of saying the "wrong" thing. But you know what? The whole situation is wrong. And messy. And awful.

Second, and probably most important, he called me something I hadn't been called in six months.

Addie's mom.


  1. I just found your blog and my heart is aching for you and your sweet family. Addie is so lucky to have a family like you to watch over. My prayer for you today is a sign from her to remind you she is near.

  2. Oh and I have to daughter has been asking me to have lunch with her since the beginning of the school year. (She is in 4th grade) I have told her that I would love to but since I work over 30 minutes away I told her I wouldn't be able to make it on my lunch hour. This post has really hit home hard for me. Next week when she is back in school after spring break I am taking a long lunch so I can have lunch with her. Thank you for this heartfelt and raw post. Thinking of you and your family.