until this winter is over

Last night, I saw you in a dream.

We were in the tiny house on 201, the white cinder block 900 square foot house that I spent the first 13 years of my life.  I was sitting in front of the old white dryer in the bathroom, the one where the clothes basket sat on top and Andi’s makeup lined the left side.  We never had a lot of room, especially not for 4 people.  You were talking, and I could hear you, but you never acknowledged me that I can remember.  You stood in front of the sink, at an angle, facing your tiny mirror that you always used to put on your makeup.  The mirror that had a cling on of Winnie The Pooh because you never cared if I put my interests everywhere. Bekah called Pooh “Pee-ah” and we loved it so much.  We rolled.  Anyway, I was pulling your clothes out of that old dryer, but I knew you were gone.  It was so strange.  I could see you, and I was aware of your presence, but I knew you were gone.  I pulled the shirts out one by one and cried out, ‘Oh, Mommy’ looking at your sweet little clothes.  There were only two shirts, a soft blue crew neck sweatshirt that looked far too old fashioned for you, but it said “Mom” on it.  The other was a far too small Valentine’s Day shirt that also didn’t look like anything you would ever wear.  I cried as I folded the shirts and I kept saying through tears “Mommy. Oh, Mommy…” and even though you were there, you didn’t say anything to me and I didn’t say anything to you.  I woke up in a struggle, covered in sweat, and immediately started crying.

It’s not easy missing you.  I’ve worn everyone out with the stories and with simply exclaiming how much I miss you, and it honestly doesn’t even scratch the surface of the cavernous valley that is my heart without you.  In my mind, I replay conversations and moments as much as I can, as much as humanly possible, and still function day to day.  I see you standing in your every day clothes in the homeplace in front of the kitchen sink, washing out two glasses because Lord, don’t let those dishes sit.  If I close my eyes, your movements are fluid and I can place myself with you, anywhere we have been or could be.  I know what you would say, I know how you would laugh, I know what your hug would feel like.  Better than all of that, I know how your hair would feel against my cheek and exactly how it would smell.  Details like your hair or what your hands looked like are the things I took for granted in this life.  I can remember them now, but I fear the day that they slip away from me or will no longer be as fresh. For now, I enjoy them.  I cry with them.  I find comfort in them.

I remember rolling my eyes at so many things you would say.  One time, we were driving and you noticed an opening in the clouds shaped like a heart.  You always noticed clouds and I never notice clouds.  You said, “Look, God gave us a heart to tell us He loves us.” and I thought, “Yeah, okay Mom…” and I think I probably just giggled or something.  In your absence, things like that stick with me.  Now, I call those instances “Prime Mom” or “Prime Brenda K” because they’re so precious.  I know you weren’t perfect, but your heart was as close to flawless as anyone I believe I will ever know.  The kindness that permeated from you should be imitated and it humbles me now.  I can think of the times you would point at a bird, or talk about the leaves, or how the rays of sun came into the house according to season – all things I never noticed or cared about – and I now see how you found beauty and love in everything, in every instance, and in every creature.  I miss that.  I wish I was more like that.

You were the very best part of my genetics, my only hope at beating the selfish, arrogant, self-centered turd that I can be.  You knew I could be good, and you knew just how good.  You always remembered the soft hearted little girl whose feelings hurt too easily, the one who cried at the end of the book when the kitty cat finally made it home after a long winter, and the one who boo hoo’d all the way home with you every time we left Papaw’s after he died.  I never considered what it would be like to make the drive home from that empty house again.  Honestly, I could write a book of things I never considered.

I wasn’t ready to write this, but I suppose no one ever is.  I thought we had more time.  I stared at you on your 64th birthday and I thought you’d have one more.  I knew there wouldn’t be many, but I thought we had at least one.  We didn’t even make a big deal out of it and I didn’t get one picture of you on that day.  Had I known it was the last birthday I’d ever celebrate with you, well, I guess I would’ve worried you to death.  I’m sure that’s why we never get to know, isn’t it?  Because, I worried you to death anyway.  I know there were things you didn’t say in fear of worrying us.  I probably wore you out, didn’t I?  I just wanted to make sure you were okay.  But, I know you’re okay now.  ‘Okay’ being an understatement, I am sure.

The depression is overwhelming and I know you would hate that.  You knew better than most people how I struggle.  I do the best I can, but there are so many naps.  I’m so exhausted from acting like I am okay, but I think I do an okay job hiding my grief.  I still don’t know how I’m supposed to do any of this.  Working 40 hours a week is the best I can offer, anything beyond that usually gets slept through.  I’m trying, but it’s still unclear to me how I’m supposed to navigate this world without you, so I look for you.  I’ll keep looking, too.  I’ll keep looking until I see you again.

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Alena Hughes

Man, you should see the lengths my husband goes to in order to make sure I never get hungry. That's all you need to know about me.

4 thoughts on “until this winter is over”

  1. Alena honey this was almost as if I wrote this about my mom. Not about personal things about you and your mom but the loneliness, emptiness and if I had known it would have been the last of everything and wishing had taken more pictures, etc. No one can begin to understand how we long for that hug, that touch, hear them laugh, their smell, etc. True we take too much for granted. But we are human. A mother’s love is so precious. I’ve always said a true mother’s love is the closest love here on earth that helps us understand just a little of God’s love. There were 8 kids in my family and each one of us secretly thought we were mom’s favorite! What a wonderful accomplishment that was for our mom to make each of us to feel that. I don’t know why but for me this entire year has been next to the most difficult of all longing for my mom besides the 1st year.

    Love and prayers for you! It is rough!

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  2. I found so much of Daddy in this post Alena. He taught us all those things you mentioned, except maybe the sunlight coming through the windows and the changing of the seasons. We noticed that together when we were little girls. We talked about it almost every year at least once. She now lives in pure light. Ahhhh yes I can’t wait to see and live what she does. ❤ I love you honey we are gonna make it! Don't you ever doubt it!

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  3. This is beautiful and awful all at the same time. I suppose that’s how it feels…horribly beautiful to lose her & to know she’s happy but terribly awful to lose her physical presence here. I am all too familiar with depression and those moments when you just can’t “people” one more second. Grasp onto the dreams, thoughts, memories, and your writing. They will be the life raft she has left for you to struggle through this time.

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