As so many people told me would happen, these “firsts” without my mom have been grueling. The holidays were weighing more heavily on me than I realized, and it felt like a boulder lifted off my chest once January 1 rolled around. For the past couple of weeks, there’s been a calm within me that I’ve savored with every cell in my body.
But a few upcoming events are again stirring those feelings of sadness, grief and a longing to talk to her. In 23 days, we leave for Disney. For anyone who’s been to Disney with a family of four, you know the planning that goes into it. The beginning of August 2016 was 180 days out, so she and I were excitedly talking about which dining reservations I would make. In fact, the week she was admitted to the hospital, I was making the reservations. I had just made the last reservation when things began going terribly wrong at the hospital. I’ve written about that horrible day before, so I won’t go into again, but needless to say, once that final dining reservation was made, I put all Disney research, catalogs, resources, and prepping aside.
The giddy glee I’d once had while planning had completely evaporated.
I had zero motivation to see Mickey or Minnie’s face. And even worse, no longer did I have my best trip planning buddy to talk to.The thought of getting back into it felt so lonely; I just couldn’t do it.
Then fate swooped in.
I wasn’t registered to attend Type-A East this year, but just after my mom passed, I was invited to speak so I decided to go. It was held at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World. I roomed with three of my closest blogging friends. Something about being down there with good friends, wrapping my head around Disney logistics, and seeing all the exciting things I knew the boys would love reignited my desire to get going with trip planning. While down there, I booked our resort.
It makes me sad knowing I can’t text her snapshots throughout the day or share funny stories, but I also won’t lie. I’m getting pretty dang excited about leaving in less than a month for a week of silly, crazy fun at Disney World.
The other thing that’s been clawing at my heart are the boys’ birthdays. Both of their birthdays are at the end of January. My mom had never missed a birthday party and we had a tradition of going to our favorite Mexican restaurant just with my parents one evening around their birthdays. This year’s party is going to be much, much different. But I know I have to more forward. For them. And for me.
One of my favorite memories of my mom is when she brought Brooks to visit his new baby brother in the hospital. When I went into labor, I was barely able to pass Brooks off to her before my water broke. That evening, she brought my precious three-year old to meet little Case.
My mom’s face was simply glowing and all felt right to have her, my two boys, and my husband all there in the quiet of the hospital. I remember Brooks trying to touch Case’s umbilical cord and my mom says, “Be gentle. You have to be very gentle with your baby brother. He’s going to look up to you so much. You need to love each other always.”
At least she got to see her advice come to fruition before she passed.
I do have some good news to share. I’ve found several things that are bringing me great joy and healing. I’ve been dabbling in essential oils for two years but since my mom died, I’ve widened my use and reliance upon them and wow. The impact has been significant. Not only have the products I’ve bought and made decreased/eliminated chemicals and toxins in my life that were exacerbating my anxiety and depression, but they’ve also improved my skin, mood, allergies, and immune system.
I’ve become so enthralled that I really want to share what I’ve learned with everyone I know. And to not inundate Zealous Mom with essential oil posts (although I do incorporate some of those), I’m developing a new site and Instagram page for those curious or interested in living an “oily life.” The website is under construction, but Instagram is already active with username Susanna Living Young.
My prayer/quiet/meditation time has always become a daily necessity. I’ve been reading up on rituals and how healing they are for the mind, body, and spirit. So whether I have to get up earlier than everyone or if it’s when I am home alone, I make this happen every day. I light a memory candle for my mom, I turn on my diffuser (the smell and the sound are both soothing), I inhale Frankincense or another of the ancient oils, read my daily devotional, study scripture, journal, etc. I end the time by praying and doing some deep breathing. And all of this is in complete quiet. I plan to experiment with mediation from other cultures, denominations as well such as chimes, gongs, prayer beads, a shawl I wear, and more. This time during my day has been life-saving.
Lastly, puzzles. It’s kind of funny for my list to end with puzzles, of all things.
Essential oils, intense ritualistic medication, and…puzzles.
But there’s something about doing a puzzle that makes me slow down, focus, and relax. While my brain and hands work on the puzzle, my subconscious mind wanders, dreams, problem solves. The boys gave me a Minnie Mouse puzzle for Christmas. We had so much fun finishing that one, we bought the matching Mickey puzzle. We plan to take another character puzzle to complete in the room while we’re at Disney. And when I return, I absolutely plan to continue this hobby. The boys love watching and helping me do the puzzles which is also very rewarding.
It’s funny because I’ve always relied very heavily on exercising as my main form of natural healing, but lately I’ve found these others that seem to be doing the trick just as well, if not better. My ultimate goal is obviously to continue these activities and incorporate exercise as well. I’ll get there, eventually.
Over the past five months, I’ve learned that my perceived wants and goals are weaklings compared to God’s plan and the will of the universe. So instead of trying to force my mortal plans and feel anxious when things don’t work out, I’m really trying to settle into each day, embrace gratitude, and focus on activities that promote a sense of wellness.
While it’s true that nothing can take the place of my mom, I’m beginning to develop hope that I can create a new normal after all. It will certainly be different than before, but I’m learning that joy and happiness are still very real and present in my world. And for that, I am so very thankful.