I wasn't going to do one this year because it's been the worst year of my life and do I really need to document that?
The year was just one awful thing after another. In 2018, I dabbled in love and boy was that a mistake.
In 2019, it failed in every way possible and that debacle alone would have taken any one of us down but right after that, in July, my mother became ill and we spent 5 months in hell. Nothing else seemed to matter.
I want to find something good about 2019 so let me tell you about my friends.
They rallied around me in spectacular ways. I was given shoulders to crying on, flowers to remind me that there is beauty in this world, lotions to soothe my dry skin, words of encouragement, drinks, Starbucks, food...bags and bags of food...a bottle of Titos, lots of other cocktails and lots and lots of love.
I want this newsletter to serve as a HUGE thank you and a way to tell you that your gifts and cards and emails and messages and showing up at my door and your virtual presence and your physical presence...they meant everything to me. They're the reason I haven't collapsed. You all know who you are and I thank you with everything in my heart.
Every year, I choose a word to focus on for the year instead of a resolution. This year it is: RENEW.
I am in a situation where rebuilding my life, creating a new life, is my focus. Everything is different and that's not always a bad thing.
C.S. Lewis said:
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”I will focus on this in 2020, too.
I'm going to end this with the things I said at my mother's funeral in November. A lot of her family and friends were there to hear this but I would love the world to know a fraction of what she meant to me and the people in her lives.
I'm still shocked that I was able to stand up in front of everyone and speak, but my mom did it a lot. She had the courage to stand up at the funerals of people she loved and give a eulogy so I told myself I could be brave just this once.
I didn’t think I’d have the courage to stand up here and speak to you and my mind was blank when I tried to think of what to say. But I woke up in the middle of the night the other night to the sound of Mom calling my name. I don’t know if it was a dream or it was her bossing me around from the great beyond but I suddenly started composing this at 2:30am. So, this may be an actual message from Heaven!
By the time I was 8 years old, all of my sisters were married and gone, starting their own families, so that meant it was just Mom and me throughout the years.
We had a ton of adventures together because Mom loved to get up and go. She planned these awesome summer road trips for us that involved few highways and many Texas back roads. Sometimes we’d decide to change course so she’d unfold this giant paper map (it’s what we used for navigation back before Google maps and iPhones) and plot a new route. We’d stop at flea markets, roadside craft shows, old cemeteries and sometimes trespass in old abandoned houses.
Sometimes our adventures were unplanned; like terrifying drives through hail and floods or riding out hurricanes in my apartment with 5 dogs (one who had a nervous stomach) or being chased by a very large family of raccoons…or being victims of an attempted robbery that led to a high speed police chase through Texas City…and THAT day began with a fire in Mom’s house. It was never a dull moment with Mom.
This was Mom’s superpower, though. She could endure super scary moments and then laugh about them later. I learned that from her.
My mother taught me many things like joy, kindness, parallel parking, levity, a love of fried foods and fun. But a long time ago, I told her I was going to stand up at her funeral and impart two pieces of wisdom I learned from her:
- 1. Everything tastes better wrapped in a tortilla (she actually said this to me)
- 2. How will a person know they’re a jerk if you don’t tell them? (I censored that because we’re in a church but she definitely did NOT say “jerk”.
This made her laugh so hard because my mother had THE BEST sense of humor….
HOWEVER she took her baseball and more importantly, her Astros, seriously. She liked to use a form of reverse psychology on a struggling batter by yelling out “Here comes your 3rd out” at the TV when he came up to bat. She swore it worked but Morgan Ensberg, Evan Gattis and Tyler White might have something to say about that.
I have never been ashamed to admit that my mother is my best friend because she was so much fun. She found joy and fun in so many things…who wouldn’t want a friend like that?
The things we should have all learned from her were maybe not things she said but how she lived her life. She never made anyone feel stupid or less than. She embraced her friends and family with her whole heart and took in those who didn’t have families to embrace them. And she never pretended to be anyone other than who she was. She was unapologetically herself and it takes courage sometimes to just be yourself. These are important lessons in life.
When I got older and could start taking her places, I would drag her all over to try new cuisines and visit new places. She would try anything and was never afraid of the unknown. That’s how she faced her death. She wasn’t afraid and she showed courage the entire time.
I hope that she’s having a blast on this new adventure. I hope that she doesn’t need a big map to find her way and I hope there are lots of laughs because I will always remember the laughs.