This weekend provided much needed relief in the form of family support. I love to spend time with my dad and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I now recognize, moreso, how important it is that we stay together and to come together in a fashion my mom would have wanted, I hope it gives us a little momentary sense of peace.
This got me brainstorming about lesson 14. As many of you experienced, my mom always had an “open door” policy. Her main priority was always our togetherness and so she always made her house a hub where we could all visit, stay, make some coffee and share memories with one another with no closing time.
Living in a different city now, that has been of more importance to me than I realized before. When you move out of the house for the first time, I think you could easily get a feeling of “displacement” or lack of home. There were many things that were hard about moving a couple hours away but feeling that I lost a home was not one of them. I always knew that when I wanted to see my mom, dad, or family, there was a meeting spot. It wasn’t always the home I grew up in; it was just wherever she was. This is part of a welcoming culture that may have started from deep rooted heritage, but it truly was embraced and grown in my parents and the home and life they built together. More reason that those two are always kindred souls, understanding the wants of one another more than most of us could imagine.
This “open house” has been extended to family and friends, in fact many of us even have spare keys to be able to actual come in without warning or reason. I have a very distinct memory, that spans many years, of sitting with my mom enjoying a cup of coffee and hearing the doorbell ring and my mom would say in a sing song manner: “Come’n in!” Everyone was free to enter as needed and they were always happy to “Come’n in.”
Eventually, family and friends grew to include our childhood friends and eventual husbands, too. Chris realized this early on. Chris and I dated for at least 2 years from different cities, which wasn’t really an issue at first because he knew that every weekend he could visit and have a bed to sleep in. Mind you, this was not my bed, and my mom often made late night/early morning bed checks to ensure we were still in separate rooms. Chris was afraid enough of my mom’s angered stare that he knew not to challenge her much. Within those first couple years until I moved, Chris was even given his own key to “come’n in” and go as he pleased.
At some point my mom and I knew that either Chris would need to move or I would, and it was a quiet sort of fear we both had that it would need to be me. Unspoken, and yet I know we both had the constant question looming over us. Inevitably, in June of 2009, my mom called me into her room and asked me frankly if I had been looking for jobs and planned to move soon. I stammered a bit, but was well aware my mom was asking because she already knew.
“Colie, I want you to really think about this. You won’t be just a few minutes away.”
I knew she was right—that any move farther than down the street was more than I was ready to sign up for. I also knew that I was stubborn enough to still want to do it. She reminded me that she loved Chris so much and didn’t doubt my love for him, but that moving in with a boyfriend was a big enough step on its own, much more so at a distance.
“I think you should seriously sit down and consider if this is the right thing right now–before you finish schooland before you get married.” She paused and stared at my worried face, forehead wrinkled and eyes large, consumed by her words. “Whatever your choice is, I may not agree with it, but I’ll support you. You have to keep me in the loop, though.”
Tears streamed down my face and my mom knew I had made my choice already. She wiped my tears, and her tears, and hugged me. “You will always have a home wherever I am.”
I know that we all grieve differently and each person remembers her differently and in their own way, but this is something that, to me, is greatly comforting in my process. Those words remind me that now my home is bigger. That wherever I remember her, wherever I think about her, wherever I reflect and act on the lessons she taught me… will now be my home because she is there. While that is bittersweet, it is also a beautiful gift she left for me.
My first week back at home, after she had passed away, I sat in our empty spare bedrooms planning. I counted our spare keys and divvied them up amongst my family.
Family and friends will always be free to “come’n in” to my house whenever they need too. They have a home here with her and me; she is here.