The Year of Firsts

Tomorrow will be one year since we lost my Mom. For the most part, we’ve settled into our “new normal” but not without some painful moments along the way.

Not only are there random thoughts that bring the tears and/or sorrow, there are things I see that can trigger them as well. Putting on a piece of my Mom’s jewelry, spotting one of the crime dramas she incessantly watched and finding a salad dressing years past its expiration date (so my Mom) are just some of the triggers.

Shutterfly and Facebook with their “Your memories from X years ago” are also a constant threat to my composure. It’s nice because the moments were happy but not as nice when you realize that you won’t be creating new moments.

Tear jerker memories.

I know the sadness from those moments is a testament to the quality of the person my Mom was and those moments are going to continue to happen. However, some moments won’t be repeated as they’re part of what I call the “Year of Firsts”.

First Holiday - Easter 

Easter was the first holiday and it felt flat. I considered buying some chocolate treats for all of us as my Mom used to do but, frankly, none of us needed the calories so I passed. Even my Mom had given up on Easter baskets years ago so we didn’t miss much. To be honest, it just felt like another family meal, albeit one with a lot more food than usual.

First Birthdays

Mine was the first immediate family birthday to occur. We planned the usual which is a family dinner out with my longtime friends from High School who are considered my parents’ “other” daughters. We ALWAYS take a picture so I was making a mental note that afternoon to do so which was immediately followed by the thought, “But my Mom won’t be in the picture” and instant tears. Dinner was still lovely. We didn’t take a picture.

For my Mom’s birthday, Shorty, Steven and I drove out to the cemetery. Shorty was content with a “Happy birthday, I’ve been thinking about you all day” message. I think he just had to “see” her to deliver the sentiment as we were only there for a few minutes then went to the nearby Culver’s which has become the custom.

Steven and I were in Chicago for his birthday on our Jimmy Buffett weekend and were too busy for many moments of introspection.

Shorty was in Wisconsin visiting family for his birthday and their anniversary. It was just what the proverbial doctor ordered for all of us. He was surrounded by family and Steven and I felt good that he had constant companionship for those days.

First Health Scare

Shorty had some ups and downs with his health this past year. Lots of challenges with dizziness brought about many visits to doctors and frequent medicine changes. The worst episode occurred one night when he was in the kitchen and managed to call out for Steven who was able to prop a chair under him before he fell. Steven called me and I went over.

You always hear about someone looking “gray” but Shorty truly did. Every time he tried to lift his head off the kitchen counter he thought he was going to pass out. I called 911 and they sent paramedics who asked him a lot of questions, ran some tests then suggested he needed to go to the emergency room. As Steven and I followed the ambulance to the hospital I thought, “I could be an orphan.” Yeah, it was that scary. Fortunately, Shorty perked up in the ER after some rehydration, was able to walk without dizziness and only stayed overnight as a precautionary measure.

I wasn’t ready to lose my Dad so soon after my Mom. I’m not ready to lose my Dad now. I’m grateful he’s doing so much better.

First Funeral

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one in our circle who lost a parent in the year. Several of my friends did as well and I went to the funeral of one of my friend’s Dad. As I sat in the pew, my friend’s back was in my line of sight to the Priest. All I could see were her shoulders shaking. I don’t know if she was crying or just trying not to but I ended up looking away and out a glass door at some lovely desert flowers or I would have been sobbing. It didn’t help that another one of my friends had just lost her Dad and was sitting with me. The circle of life sometimes sucks.

First Thanksgiving

My parents have hosted big Thanksgiving events for years. We invite family and friends who have become family and it’s a lot of food and talking. We lost my Godmother (my Mom’s cousin) right before my Mom and my Godfather had a really tough time of it. I was worried how he was going to take the holiday but it turned out great. One of his daughters and one of his sons came and we had a lovely, lively meal with conversations about books and movies while Shorty and my Godfather just chilled and enjoyed the kids BSing.

First Christmas

Almost the same crowd was there for Christmas and it was a good Christmas Day. Christmas Eve felt sparse with one person out of the mix, though. Shorty stepped up and bought my Uncle (Mom’s youngest brother) his “standard” gift and, while gift opening was abbreviated, we were all as content as we could be. I think it would have felt more jarring but my Mom was in the extended care home the last Christmas so we already had one without her being at the house.

First Anniversary

So, that leaves me with one last First. The 6th was a notable marker for many months as we noted One Month, Two Months, Three Months...but then it became less of a milestone for me. I still think about my Mom every day but the days and the emotions have become more even and the 6th less significant.

However, February 6th will be notable for the rest of my life.


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