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Amanda Lamb: Reminders

Posted January 13, 2013

Six months feels like and important milestone. That’s how long it’s been since my mother died. It feels like the point at which I should be getting over it. But somehow, the passage of time has done little except make my crying jags less frequent.

There are still constant reminders of her everywhere I turn. This week, I realized that I had never canceled her magazines. I received three January editions of her various subscriptions and discovered that magazine companies don’t check with social security to see who has died in the past year. This required action on my part.

“I’d like to cancel my mother’s subscription,” I said to each distributor over the phone.

“May I ask why you’re canceling?” they replied innocently.

“Because she’s dead,” I responded in the most matter-of-fact way I could muster.

One company asked me if I would like to change the subscription to my name. Another asked me what other magazines I might be interested in getting from them. I tried to answer politely, without judgment. They’re just doing their jobs, I chanted in my head over and over again. But each call made my heart heavier and less able to make the next one.

But there have also been good reminders—professional recognition from her local bar association for the dignity with which she practiced law, an advertisement of an upcoming auction of some of her jewelry that will go to benefit legal aid, and kind emails and cards from her friends checking in on my spirits.

I still haven’t brought myself to take down the Christmas tree adorned with hundreds of her lamb ornaments. I don’t think I’ve ever had my tree up past Jan. 1.

But this year, as it sits next to my desk glowing brightly, I am reminded of her festive spirit that always made the holidays special. Not only have I not taken it down, but I keep the lights on 24 hours a day as the tree sits in the room in my house where she spent her dying days.

Somehow, I imagine it keeping her company in the many hours that I am gone. At this point, I’m thinking there’s a good chance it will be up until next Christmas.

If grief is a journey, then reminders are like the people who get on the train at different stations. Some are interesting, some are benign, and some are not very palatable. And while in between those stops you may journey through some dark tunnels, there is always light at the end of each one.

Amanda Lamb is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.
 

10 Comments

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  • Uhavenoclu Jan 15, 7:47 p.m.

    You have the memory and lessons and love she gave you.Enjoy them and she will al;ways be here.Talk to her she will answer one way or another for she will always be looking after you.
    You asked her for help and guidance,all the comments you have here is her answer to you,for she is saying you are never alone.They may not be able to hold you like your mom but they can help you get through.
    Use the memories and as long as you use what she taught you whether on yourself or to your own children she will always be here.

  • clearwaterman Jan 15, 12:54 p.m.

    Amanda:
    I know exactly how you feel! I lost my mother in a car crash five years ago and yes, the greiving still goes on. Especially at Christmas. She was such a Christmas person and she always made Christmas special at our house. I cannot tell you how much I miss her and daddy.

  • islandballmom Jan 14, 7:53 p.m.

    Amanda, I enjoy reading your blog. Although both of my parents are living and I have not experienced the loss of a parent, reading this has given me the insight to when that day will come. I have had friends very close to me lose a parent, spouse, child and your little insights may in the future stick in my mind. Thank you for sharing your journey, you will impact others in the openness of your grief.

  • ladybug68 Jan 14, 5:23 p.m.

    Shirley, my mama always said if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. I am lucky to still have my mom. I lost my dad 26 years ago, still miss him and called my mom the other day to share something with her that he would have loved, and my comment? "Dad is laughing about this one in heaven. There is no rule book for grief. Every journey s different. You are fine Amanda. My dad's hat is still on the shelf in my coat closet.

  • SaveEnergyMan Jan 14, 5:20 p.m.

    Grief is a personal journey that is as individual as each of us. Continue to take it one day at a time and not to sweat the details - like when your Christmas tree comes down or to worry about what some phone jockey asks when you cancel magazines. It will get easier, but grief will sometimes rear its ugly head years later. It's part of the process of growing.

  • mdwrfw Jan 14, 12:10 p.m.

    My father died after a brief illness when I was 45....it took me a long time to deal with my grief. I would see a man with a head full of white hair and for a brief second I would think it was him. I missed sharing things with him and getting his opinion. I felt like I would never get over missing him. My mother died 15 years later after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Her death was a blessing and I knew she was finally whole. I had to let go of "her" years before and cared for her while trying to remember the amazing person she had been. Amanda has graciously shared her journey through grief and I appreciate her honesty. Shirley, you don't have to read these posts and certainly should not be judgmental.

  • DNCMom Jan 14, 10:15 a.m.

    I very much appreciate this column with the continuing subject. No where in life does any one any where prepare us for the death of our parents much less the cleaning up and closing out of their earthly lives. Thank you Amanda for bringing the conversation out into the open rather than keeping it behind closed doors, not discussing at all, or politely ignoring. Everyone should educate themselves on the path they will have to unfortunately take one day. This isn't something to be crossed off on the "to do" list.

  • pisgah2005 Jan 14, 7:33 a.m.

    I appreciate your eloquent words...I experienced many of the same feelings after I lost my Dad in June 2012. Grief is a very personal journey. I find comfort in Matchbox cars that he found joy in collecting as an adult, and shared with my son (who plays with them now), in Avon bottles that he found at yard sales (which now adorn my bathroom cabinet), his sense of humor ( "the air is closer to the ground there") and a million other memories which will forever be a part of me. Thanks for sharing your journey, and I wish you peace.

  • m2007 Jan 14, 7:17 a.m.

    If you don't like it Shirley, just don't read it-but don't be cruel.

  • hmmmmm Jan 13, 10:23 p.m.

    Amanda,

    The one thing that I have learned about grief is that it ebbs & it flows; it can lap at your feet gently, or hit you in waves that pull you under until you can't get your breath & you feel like you will drown in it. I PROMISE you, one day, you will wake up with peace and happiness in your heart again, just as your Mom would want. People say "Time will ease your pain" and "Time heals all wounds". Maybe some wounds, but grief does not ever just go away, it does however, get gentler. You have a long way to go in this journey before you get to that point, but this is my promise to you....the day will come when your heart is ready.

    Stacy Stowe