Oh gosh, that’s embarrassing. No writing for 10 months?! Unacceptable! But after a long hiatus I’m back. I wish it didn’t take a tragedy to get me to write. It really is a fun hobby when I make time to do it. But that’s a topic for another day. In the meantime, here is a copy of my speech from mom’s funeral on Saturday. Sigh.
The summer before I left for college was one of the most emotional times of my life. I think my mom could have said the same thing as we seemed to be in perfect balance. One of us would be crying and the other would be enthusiastic. Well, at least until mom played “Forever Young” and then we both just cried. My mom would tell me that she was so proud of me for choosing to go so far away to pursue my dreams, but she was nervous to let me go. For the most part though, she bit her tongue and gave me my freedom, never questioning my plans.
I was so excited. Yet so scared. I was leaving behind everything I knew. All of my friends. The room I grew up on. The Chinese restaurant I loved so much. There was so much potential for my future in South Carolina, but there was also a lot of unknown.
So the summer continued like this – back and forth, crying and laughing, supporting and more crying. And then I did something really dumb. I had all of my friends stay for a sleepover that last night before I left. In the morning, each one of them, INDIVIDUALLY, said goodbye to me. It was as if my heart was being ripped out each time. When, at last, I said goodbye to my dog Max, and gave Nikki one last excruciating hug, my parents and I got in that blue minivan and drove off. I’m not sure any of us stopped crying until we got past Gary.
Fast forward a few days and I found myself in the most perfect college setting. Simply, I loved it. The accents were so southern and the fellow students so friendly (well, until they discovered I was a Yankee.) But then it was time to say goodbye to my parents. Gosh, it was hard.
For a second.
After a tearful goodbye, I went skipping off with my first new friend, Tracy, to some party or other college experience, as my parents sat in the Holiday Inn watching me leave.
I spent the next three and a half years loving every moment about college, but also having moments of homesickness. When Nikki needed me, I couldn’t be there. When I got sick, I had no one to pet my head. When the car died, I had to learn what to do. And learn I did.
That first spring at school, my mom came down to visit. We had a great trip to Charleston and ate breakfast next to Strom Thurmond, who at the time was so old he couldn’t button his own shirt sleeves, but was still governing our country. I was so proud to show her the things that I had been doing. It was great to see that big smile on her face until we had to part ways and we both started crying again.
When I was just in Texas a few weeks ago, we had another great trip. We stayed up late talking and laughing. She was so interested in what was going on in my life. We visited a spa and this time when it came to say goodbye, I didn’t cry. Looking back on this, I’ve wondered why, but I think it’s because I knew what I was traveling back to and couldn’t wait to get there.
When my dad died three years ago, my earth’s axis was shifted so off kilter, I didn’t think the ship would ever be righted. It’s only in the last two weeks that I realize my mom’s ship simply could never be. She hasn’t smiled that big smile of hers in three years. She tried to take life on herself, but I think it proved to be too much.
My parents were quite the pair and needed each other. If for no other reason than to give each other the strength to give their daughter the freedom to explore the world on her own.
Last Sunday, when I walked away from them one last time, this time leaving them under a beautiful oak tree on a hilltop in Texas, I did so holding the hand of my prince. I again felt sadness, but also happiness. This is how it’s meant to be. Someday Randy and I are going to have our own babies that we send out into the world. I’m going to continue building the friendships that have become so precious to this only child. I’m going to do things I thought I could only dream of. And when my mom comes to visit me, be it in a dream, in a powerful gust of wind, or when we finally meet again in heaven, I’m still going to be so proud of my life. The life she gave me the freedom and guidance to live.