There will be no funeral today (only cause for celebration)
It's official; I've just lived through the hardest week of my life. While I'm still in shock and keep reaching to call my mom, I'm shocked that it has only been a week. Feels like a friggin' year since my sister Melissa from Washington D.C. and I from New York City descended upon the amazing small town of Guntersville, Alabama (population: 6,000) to put our mother to rest.
While neither of us have ever lived there--most of our lives have found us in major cities in the Northeast--we had a community embrace us...most of whom have never met us. Didn't matter, they were there to help us because that's what communities do. Just like this marketing community did for me and my sister.
After we discontinued life support on Sunday we committed to something that I share with you: while it would be a hard week it didn't have to be a "bad" week. After all, we were honoring and mourning a person that impacted us in defining, advancing ways. We had no unresolved issues or regrets and told our silly, smart and sweet momma how much we loved her all the time. Geez, I even have a darn theme song for the woman and my sister has a pet name for her. We are, as weird as it sounds, fortunate to be left with such gaping holes in our hearts.
One glitch, though...a 'funeral' with sad songs and sad people did not align with our mom's spirit. It was wholly counterintuitive to the woman we were honoring. It was just plain wrong. And Guntersville totally supported our every wish and whim. So we held a "Celebration of Life" ceremony and "after party." Yep, mid-week my sister and I pulled ourselves together, put the kleenex down, trashed the the jeans and t-shirts we'd been wearing for days, scrubbed-up, dolled-up and did right by our momma. I even pulled out the pearls.
There was no funeral home. There was a nice sanctuary and then a great big room with big speakers, food and lots of sunlight. There was no sorrowful music. There was mom's favorite music of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Van Morrison and many more. There wasn't talk of regrets, there were funny stories. And, of course, the Pastor was a rockin' female (you go girl!).
My sister, who has never looked more beautiful and has never made me more proud gave a moving eulogy. She'll never know how much she radiated, but mom does. My eulogy was a bit spirited as I used some fun props to weave together the story of mom's myriad, amazing attributes. Oh, and we gave out custom-made CDs of her favorite songs along with her favorite candy (she was a sugar junkie and loved Kit Kat bars). I did ask attendees not to eat in church.
So everyone left with good stories, good food and goodies. As the photos prove, we had MUCH more laughing than crying. Mission accomplished, momma.
I am so scared that I'll leave people out that I've decided not to link to anybody but I need to let EVERYONE who has commented, called, e-mailed, sent cards, sent e-cards, sent poems, sent flowers, wrote poems, wrote posts, sent heart-wrenching stories of how they've overcome grief, reached out to me for the first time ever and prayed for me and my sister know: We Thank You. We are overcome, humbled and lifted by you. Believe it. I will be replying to each and every outreach; I just need some time so that I can properly reflect and honor each of you,too.
If anyone has any question as to whether or not these online relationships are real, please just point them my way--I'll happily set them straight :-).
Because he's just too good a person to say anything, I need to say it. I've now met and hung out with Mack Collier for several days as he was part of the team (he has to be so sick of me!). I can now verify with
99.999% 100% accuracy that he is truly just that fine a person. Mack basically put his freelance work, blogging and life on-hold to be there for my family for the better part of last week.
He downloaded and burned all the songs for my mom's CD (for hours upon hours on a dial-up connection!), helped my sister and I pack the entire place and is storing stuff for us. Folks, he did it because he's a personal friend but he also did it because he could be there for our entire community being he lives close enough to my mom's town.
And then Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton sent a whirlwind my way which has moved me so much that I really can't put words to my level of gratitude and awe. They have started an eBook initiative (which you great bloggers should take part in!) and the writers have decided to dedicate it to my mom. According to them "As you can imagine...many of your friends have already signed-on to write a chapter. So it felt right to make this community and conversation-focused book be dedicated to the woman who obviously taught you your values of community, listening, loving and bringing others into the conversations." I closed my eulogy on that gem.
While I'm all done packing my mom's place and it feels like a degree of relief I've never known, a VERY real thought occurred to me on the plane today while I was finally resting my weary eyes: a HUGE percentage of that "stuff" I just packed in Alabama is about to hit my little, already-busting-out-of-its-seams, New York City apartment...come Tuesday. Oy. No, double oy. I don't know why I didn't really think about it while I was packing (I did have a lot on my mind at the time).
So between unpacking and getting back to my patient, supportive clients my blogging will need to be a bit slow for a while; please be patient with me during April (it's been a hell of a month and I've got a heck of a lot more mourning left in me). That said, this blogger and bookstress is down...but far from out. Marketing reporting and clubs with cool books will resume as soon as possible--much shorter posts, too.
With as much gratitude as the world will hold (and then some),
P.S.: I hope everyone has a great Easter/Passover/etc. My sister and I were delighted that, among the many projects on her kitchen table, mom was putting together our Easter Baskets. Yep, pastel-colored plastic Easter eggs filled with jelly beans, hershey kisses and peanut butter cups. Yum. Every year, even at this age, we still got Easter baskets from mom...and fortunately for us, this year was no different ;-).
- Top pic is me (duh), my mom's best friend Ruth Bevis (whom we've now adopted) and my beautiful sister Melissa. Ruth did not leave my mom's side in the ICU while Melissa and I flew to get to her.
- Second pic is of me (duh) and the rockin' female Pastor Ann Lawrence and her husband Frank (who also rocks). Ann and Frank also did not leave my mom's bedside while we were traveling to get to her.
- Third from top is me (duh) and Mack Collier (whom I've verified rocks as much as we all knew he did).
- Fourth pic is a lot of mom's high school and college classmates who had such fun stories to tell of the many activities and clubs she was involved in (apparently my mom had much more energy than me).
- Fifth pic is Melissa and her best friend Jacky who mom loved so much. He came in from New Orleans to celebrate Mom, help pack mom's place and support us.
Update: To view the "many faces" of my magnificent momma, just go here (it's worth the trip, she's quite a beauty!).