When I think of my mom not only do I think of her hanging hand washed Ziploc bags on the clothesline to dry, but I think of her in her garden. Flimsy foam visor on her head, smiling and excited to show me whatever had just started blooming or sharing her photos of birds and butterflies reaping what she had sowed. She often had ice cream pails of whatever specimens she was thinning out for me to plant in my own front yard. And her poppies were my favorite.
This is my story to tell. And I love any excuse to tell it because as an introvert I tend to keep my stories to myself unless prompted or given endless space on the internet to write to my heart's content. And here are both of those instances, so...
Coming up on a year means that the conversation of loss doesn't come up all that often. Not only is grief an uncomfortable topic, as time goes on the world keeps moving even when it feels like it came to a screeching halt. In fact, this milestone has felt daunting from the beginning. One year is enough time to move on, enough time to see some good amongst the hard, enough time to find a new normal. At least that's what I assume everyone else thinks.
And yes, I have seen some slivers of good amongst the hard and have found some semblance of a new normal. But one year later I'm still sad AF.
As I was navigating life as a new mom I was also preparing to lose my own. And those two things colliding helped me understand my mom on a whole other level. A way I don’t think was possible if she was still here.
I love that and hate it at the same time.
I’m thankful for the conversations we had- things I got to ask but never knew how to ask otherwise. Grateful for a warning that made our time together feel that much more precious. And I love how her response to being given a timeline didn’t prompt travel plans or completing anything extreme. Her only unfinished business was to be with her family and play with her grandkids even if it completely wiped her out. Intentionally watching her be a grandma set a high standard of how I want to parent my child, re-remembering all the ways she was there for me as a kid and wanting to give the same level of love to my loved ones.
She passed along an appreciation for plants when she passed along those ice cream pails full of bulbs. And in doing so, she also passed along a way to feel connected to her when I dig my hands in the dirt. Last year was the first year one of her beloved poppies bloomed in my garden and it felt like her saying hello from heaven but through the earth.
I’d love for you to have a piece of my mom's garden. And although there's no way to pass out ice cream pails to everyone interested, my dear friend Sam created a sticker as a way to continue sharing my mom's story and her flowers. It's titled "Dawn's Poppy" and for a few more days she's donating the proceeds to Solvay Hospice House where my mom spent her final weeks, eventually departing on her 70th birthday.
Losing my mom helped me realize how much I inherited from her and I’m so lucky to let that shine. Even when no one asks for it.