123Valerie Strikes Again

Unprecedented Self-Indulgence.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tomorrow, on October 12, my Mom would have been 58.

She's been dead for nearly 10 months now. It's only hard when I forget that she's gone. I still have her number in my cell phone, and fairly often--about once a month or so--something will happen that I want to tell her right away. So I dial, and the first empty ring socks me in the gut.

Harder still is thinking about all of the things I could have done for her when she was alive. I won't burden ya'll with my self-indulgent guilt. That's what Alice is for.

I just want to celebrate and remember the exceptional, beautiful things about my Mom because there were so many. She was just as unique in death as she was in life--my Mom was always a little flashy.

I don't know how many of you out there have had close loved ones die--I hope none of you--but it's a weird experience. Death keeps you busy. Immediately after she unexpectedly passed away, my sisters--my beloved Maryann and Susie--and I were ushered to the funeral home to make "arrangements."

Just about 35 minutes had elapsed from the hospital room to the funeral parlor's "reflection room." The rushed pace led to some typos in her obituary. The fact that I let them go ought to clue you into my mental state, but we were also overwhelmed with tasks.
First, we had to pick out a casket:

"Oh, that one's nice. She always liked cherry."

"No. No the material is too pink. How about this one?"

"I don't like the ruffles around the edges. You remember how she hated supercilious pleating?"

"Yeah. You're right."

It just so happened that my Mom's taste lent itself toward the cheapest casket they had. Oh My God. How horrible. We wanted to send her into the afterlife in the Bentley of caskets. The thing is, it was quite lovely. I don't remember a single detail about it, but I know at the time I said to myself, "Hmm. Yeah. She would like that."

Then there were the prayer cards. And the reception--roast beef or chicken? And finally, "What will your mother be wearing?" they asked.

Wearing? As in clothes? Huh. Um, sisters huddle up.

Maryann: "Alright, Mom told me years and years ago, before she even got sick, that when she died, she wanted to be buried in a brand new, sparkly rhinestone denim outfit."

Susie and I: "Yep. That sounds about right."

Maryann: "Uh, we're going to need a day or two to find our Mom's burial outfit."

So, in the wake of this shock, my sisters and I checked out every Western Wear shop in the tri-state area and finally ended up shopping at the mall for this damned outfit. We told the story to countless salespeople. And they cried, and we cried. Complete strangers were hugging us, and they were so sorry but, no, they didn't have anything like that and hadn't seen anything like it since 1987.

Five hours later, we were just about to give up and try to make the thing ourselves with a Bedazzler and a jug of wine, when we walked by the Limited Too, a store for little girls. We saw these gorgeous denim outfits with rhinestones, sparkles and beads--they were perfect. But, they were in little girl sizes, and my Mom was tiny, but not that tiny.

We looked anyway, hoping to get inspiration for the outfit we'd soon have to put together.

The sales girl came over to us and we told her the story. We found out her Dad passed away from lung cancer, and she understood our need. She told us that their sizes went up to 3XL, which should fit my Mom, who was a petite size 4.

Then, the kicker, she told us to look on the clearance rack because she remembered seeing something that might work. We were hesitant because, even though my Mom was always a bargain hunter, given the already cheap casket, we didn't want to send her into the afterlife wearing marked-down clothes.

But we looked, and, of course, we found the perfect outfit in the perfect size, and there was more crying and snotting and hugging in the middle of the store. Needless to say, Mom was looking out for us the whole way.

She looked so pretty lying there. So pretty that I kind of, weirdly, wish we could have taken a picture. Someone did, in fact. My Mom was a massage therapist for nearly 25 years, and one of her long-time clients was just devastated and wanted to capture my Mom's last earthly appearance on film.

It was strange but, you know, she looked so pretty I wish we could've taken our own or gotten copies. Her lipstick was a little too light in color for my taste but, still, she looked lovely.

Some days I'm alright, and some days I am not. I have a lot of love in my life, and now I know have love coming in from the afterlife, too.

I wish I had a lesson here. A solid bit of wisdom that you could carry with you. Or that I could carry with me. But I find that I still make the same mistakes now that she's gone. Sometimes, though, I get it right, just like I always did. Being touched by death didn't give me an honorary life degree. Nothing tastes more bitter, but nothing tastes more sweet, either. I still don't have the urgency to live every day to the fullest, though, thankfully, I never felt the urge to die. I still spend way too much time watching The Food Network.

I guess I'm the same 123Valerie, just without a Mom.

No contest tonight. I send out countless prayers of thanks to all of you who helped me get my head right again and to all of you who told me it was okay that it wasn't right in the first place.
If you have some spare positive energy, could you send it over Megan Jane's way? She's missing her Grandpa something awful right now. Oh, and my lovely Kristina Sweet Ass-Fried Mac 'n Cheese-Drivin' a Big White SUV-Bartendress Extraordinaire might appreciate a positive vibe or two, as well.
Love and light to any of ya'll who have lost someone or something you love. I might take a day or two off, kids. Not because I don't love you, but because I do. Don't fret. I'll be back soon--and better than ever.


  • At 7:33 AM , Blogger Kristin said...

    You made me cry. I'm sure you made a lot of us cry, including yourself. Thinking of you.

  • At 8:25 AM , Anonymous Megan Jane said...

    I love you Val, and I am praying for your heart.

  • At 10:24 AM , Blogger brinki dink said...

    I love you, Valerie. You are an amazing woman and I know your mother is looking down at you and is so proud, so very proud.

  • At 10:33 AM , Anonymous Allison said...

    Val, i love love love you. ya Kristin she made me cry too. and Brita, you are right, her mom is defiantly looking down with love for her very special 123 Valerie.b if you need me val, or you megan jane you both know i am but a phone call away. loving you both,

  • At 11:55 AM , Blogger Flat Coke and Flies said...

    I have never lost anyone close to me, only friends and distant relatives. I dread the experience. When someone I know does pass away I cry because I don't know what it feels like (the same cry I do because I don't know what a one night stand feels like either). Neither are something I want to experience but I know someday death will come to my mother, father, sister, BF, and I just don't know how I'll take it. I will try to remember this day, the day I read 123Valeries blog about her mother and know that I'll have weak days, stronger days, sad and lonely days.

    Don't be gone long...I'll miss ya too much. I'm selfish and I want my blogger buddies here with me so...COME BACK SOON!!!!

  • At 4:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    My new BIFF - sending you wishes of peace and acceptance, of love and good memories. Take the time to remember her and honour those memories with smiles. Take care of yourself.

  • At 9:29 PM , Blogger nolongermrsborell said...

    Val you are always in my thoughts and prayers! I have been thinking about you a lot more since our phone call the other night. If you need to talk pick up the phone!! If you need a hug I can be there in 5 and half hours. (Less if other people knew how to Drive.Ha Ha!)Sending you (and Meg as well) all my love!!

  • At 12:19 PM , Anonymous Kayla said...

    I lost my dad 2 years ago to cancer... Your post was very touching and I could totally relate. My dad's death didn't make me a better person (don't I wish it did) - but it kept me...well, me.. which is who my dad loved.

    Your post made me cry..and it made me laugh (when we shopped for my dad's casket.. my mom and I were arguing about which he "would like", when I finally looked at her and said "who likes to 'be' in a casket!" and we both busted out laughing....)...

    I am glad I stumbled on your blog (through the one and only candy sammich)... especially as I approach the anniversary of my dad's diagnosis...

    Thank you for the great post :)

  • At 10:44 PM , Blogger 123Valerie said...

    Aw, Kayla, glad to have you dear. I'm am sorry that you have gone through the sadness, too, but I'm glad you were able to have a laugh, as well.

    I actually dated a guy who did enjoy being in caskets. That didn't last very long.

    Hugs to you.


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