The girls and I were driving home from school when Carole King’s 1971 classic song, You’ve got a friend, came on my satellite radio. We were about 6 houses down from our own driveway, and I smiled.
That song. At that moment. It was kind of like a hug.
When you’re down and troubled,
And you need some love and care.
I’d been missing my Mom a little more than usual lately…
And when I think of Carole King, I think of my Mom singing along. Little girl Kylee would sing along to the Tapestry album, too. Teenage Kylee would roll her eyes, cross her arms and stare out of the passenger-side window… secretly singing along in my mind. Young adult Kylee understood what Shirl saw in Carole…
No, nothing is going right.
In my car, I have a rule: we sing. (It’s kind of a coping strategy to avoid constant chatter coming from the direction of the youngest passenger in the car.)
So when Carole sang on my radio last week, I sang, too.
And so did my eight-and ten-year-old little ladies. (It’s my job to shape them into being conscientious, empathetic, kind people, but it’s also wholly my job to ensure that they know the songs that I grew up with. They know Dolly, of course they know Lionel, they know James Taylor and they know Carole King, among others.)
We continued as we approached our driveway. The three of us singing:
Close your eyes, and think of me…
And soon, I will be there.
To brighten up, even your darkest night.
We pulled into the garage. And listened for the chorus to start…
You just call, out my name.
And you know, wherever I am.
I’ll come running…
…to see you again…
I turn the car off.
Into the house we go to do life.
The next morning, I’m sitting in my favorite chair doing my weekday morning ritual after the girls head to school and before I go to the office: tea, journal, bible readin’, quiet, calm, Kylee time. Before I got started, I was scrolling through Instagram and an IG friend was asking people what they were thankful for today.
Someone responded to her, and it was her mom:
I wrote my friend:
This is gold. How precious.
And then I closed instagram. And sighed. I started journaling and reading and reflecting and I sighed again.
“Seeing” an exchange between a Mom and a daughter about my age… it resonates. It aches even sometimes, if I were being honest.
This isn’t born out of jealousy or envy of my friend’s Mama saying kind words to her, it’s just that… when you were blessed enough to have a good Mom and then she dies, you feel the loss of her presence for the rest of your life. (It’s probably arguable that if you got a bum Mom, you feel that loss for the rest of your life, as well.)
So anywho, that’s where I was.
Missing my Mom.
On a regular morning before work.
I finished my morning routine and got ready to go to the office. I’m pretty sure I didn’t wash my hair that day because, surprise!, I never wash my hair. (Lame joke.)
(Not really a joke either. More like a life truth. If you’re washing your hair everyday, stahhhp it. Don’t tell me it’s too oily if you don’t, you can train your hair. Let’s talk.)
I grabbed my purse, my computer bag, my lunch, my water and my tea – I am a pack mule – and loaded it into my car and was out the door.
I started my car, buckled my seatbelt and my radio starts up:
…Winter, spring summer or fall.
All you have to do is call…
…and I’ll be there, yes I will…
…You’ve got a friend.
The song that I so needed to hear the day before.
The song that I so needed to hear after I saw that note from my friend’s Mom that morning.
The song that Shirl sang… it was right there, in my car, playing on satellite radio, right.where.it.had.left.off the day before.
I didn’t pause it or record it. (Can you even do that?)
If the sky above you grows dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind begins to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud
Soon you’ll hear me knocking at your door.
They don’t leave us. I am convinced to my core that the sky is blue, all olives are repulsive (except when served as a tapenade at a good Mediterranean restaurant) and that our people do not leave us.
Right when I needed her, she was there. Helping me usher in September.
My mom was born on a Monday and died on a Monday.
Monday, September 9th marks the sixth year of her surprising death. It was something I was kind of waiting for… she hadn’t been well… but a car accident? I wasn’t planning for that.
As it turns out, you can’t plan everything.
I woke up that morning and went to work. I was wearing a floral dress that took me quite some time to wear again after September 9, 2013.
My Mom woke up that morning and for some reason, I didn’t call her like I did every other morning…
…and that was it.
We never talked again.
Today marks six years that I’ve lived my life without laughing alongside my Mom, or confiding in her or telling her what she should do. (Or more accurately, her telling me what I should do. “Do you want to know what I think, Kylee?” Um… no. [smile] ) It’s been six years since I’ve gotten an annoying email forward or have had to explain to her that she keeps writing private info on public profiles on Facebook. It’s been six years since I’ve eaten her mashed potatoes or felt the peace that comes from a Mom hug; from your Mom’s hug…
It’s been six years that I’ve been living in a world without the person who first knew me. There are questions I have, that I didn’t ask back when I was 34 and she was 59, because they hadn’t occurred to me yet. As time goes on, I grieve what was and what will never be. I think that’s ok.
My grief has taken different shapes over the years, too — but it never leaves. And in full transparency, I don’t ever want it to leave. I cling to every memory — the good and the not so good — because it’s all part of my story. It’s part of her story. And it was an honor to be part of her story.
So as I write this, I cry.
I don’t even really know why. Maybe because it’s like my morning routine. I drink the tea and read the words and take the time each morning in order to move along throughout my day. Today, I take the time to write the words and cry the tears because it just moves me along in my journey-o-grief, which is really just my journey-o-life.
We cry for our people because they’re worth it.
We cry because sometimes it just doesn’t feel fair that other people didn’t get to know how AMAZING our person was.
We cry because sometimes we worry that our person didn’t know how amazing she was.
We cry and remember and we cry and remember and this is the gloriously, searingly simultaneously joyful and painful thing that is life.
Winter, spring, summer or fall…
All you have to do is call.
And I’ll be there, yes I will…
…you’ve got a friend.
Oh yeah, you’ve got a friend…
I wish you could have known my Mom… our Mom. And if you did, thank you for thinking of her today.
P.S. The whole story of losing my Mom, and the posts I wrote, can be found here. Maybe they can help someone you know? Pass them along if you are so inclined. We’re all in this together.
—The Story of Loss. On Losing my Mom.
September 9, 2013 :: The day I found out :: Post here.
September 16, 2013 :: It’s One Week today :: Post here.
September 25, 2013 :: The Call :: Post here.
September 30, 2013 :: Slivers of Sunlight :: Post here.
October 6, 2013 :: That first week.Those first days :: Post here.
October 14, 2013 :: 14 days after :: Post here.
October 20, 2013 :: I found a treasure :: Post here.
November 4, 2013 :: She’s been gone for 4 weeks :: Post here.
November 13, 2013 :: I smile and drive and cry and smile and cry :: Post here.
November 17, 2013 :: Weekends aren’t easy :: Post here.
November 26, 2013 :: The holidays, the firsts :: Post here.
December 1, 2013 :: 8 weeks :: Post here.
December 10, 2013 :: The Dream :: Post here.
December 19, 2013 :: Vulnerability and Moving Forward :: Post here.
December 22, 2013 :: The reminders. They’re everywhere :: Post here.
December 29, 2013 :: 2013 :: Post here.
January 1, 2014 :: The New Year :: Post here.
January 7, 2014 :: 2 days from 4 months :: Post here.
January 17, 2014 :: Another Gift :: Post here.
January 25, 2014 :: She would have been 60 today :: Post here.
February 9, 2014 :: Five months :: Post here.
March 6, 2014 :: Almost six months :: Post here.
March 27, 2014 :: One of the Best Gifts Ever :: Post here.
April 1, 2014 :: We’re all in this together :: Post here.
April 24, 2014 :: 7 Months, Easter and Nope, I’m still not normal. :: Post here.
May 6, 2014 :: Mother’s Day without a Mom :: Post here.
June 1, 2014 :: Moving “forward” :: Post here.
July 6, 2014 :: Denial & acceptance & blah, blah, blah :: Post here.
August 20, 2014 :: So, I’m 35 :: Post here.
September 2, 2014 :: 7 days :: Post here.
September 8, 2014 :: The Day Before a Year :: Post here.
September 9, 2014 :: Hello, one year :: Post here.
October 11, 2014 :: The brain is funny :: Post here.
November 6, 2014 :: Love :: Post here.
November 30, 2014 :: Post here.
December 4, 2014 :: Another feather. Post here.
December 28, 2014 :: All was calm, all is bright. Post here.
January 18, 2015 :: They’re always with us? They’re always with us. Post here.
January 25, 2015 :: And today I remember. Post here.
March 8, 2015 :: A year and a half later. Post here.
April 16, 2015 :: And here I stand. Post here.
April 29, 2015 :: Joan & Shirley. Post here.
August 26, 2015 :: Perspective. Post here.
September 9, 2015 :: Two Years After. Post here.
November 1, 2015 :: Watching others go through it. Post here.
January 25, 2016 :: Happy Birthday, Mom. Post here.
March, 5, 2016 :: Air Tears. Post here.
April 26, 2016 :: Sitting Still. Post here.
December 27, 2016 :: So this was Christmas. Post here.
December 29, 2016 :: And our hearts sigh. Post here.
May 10, 2017 :: Phil Collins made me cry. Post here.
September 7, 2017 :: I guess I just miss my Mom. Four years. Post here.
March 18, 2018 :: When life gets hard, here’s how I handle it. Post here.
June 1, 2018 :: Words are magic. Post here.
September 9, 2018 :: Five years. Post here.