Routines are hard to change.
Liam and I were heading to the store to do some Christmas shopping. As I drove up Columbia Street, I told my phone, via bluetooth and voice commands, to make the same phone call I have made almost every time I have gotten in the car and headed out to run errands. The ringing of the phone could be heard and then the call connected. Her voice filled my car and my eyes filled with tears. She’s not there and the only way we’re going to ever hear her voice again is on the outgoing message of her voicemail.
My aunt, my dear friend.
See I had this routine. Making phone calls at home with 3 kids constantly clamoring for my attention is always difficult. There is rarely any privacy (if that is needed) and quiet is, well, if you’ve ever been on the phone with me while Liam has been playing dragon you’ll know there is no such thing as quiet. I’ve discovered the best place to make phone calls is in my car between home and wherever I am going.
Lois was always the first person I would call. Sometimes we’d talk for only a few minutes. Other times we’d talk for half an hour. Didn’t matter how long – it was the connection that mattered. The “checking in” that counted.
It’s been 3 weeks since she passed. I’m still having a hard time believing it. And then I am reminded in ways that resemble a hammer to the head, a knife to the heart.
I laid in bed last night thinking about her, of all my memories. There are a lot of memories as I’ve known her for 38 years.
Dancing with complete abandon, while singing as loudly as we could, to the tunes of Mary Poppins on the record player.
Sleepovers every Christmas where cookies would be made and eaten, movies watched, fashion shows (wearing her clothes of course) executed, snuggles had.
Visiting the office where she worked and walking down Victoria Street together to get lunch, feeling oh so very special and important.
Hundreds of thousands of phone calls over the years.
Introducing each of my 3 children to her – she ADORED them and they her. She spoiled them – after school snack wasn’t just an apple with some peanut butter. Oh no. After school snack often consisted of mac & cheese with farmer sausage, or grilled cheese sandwiches, or pie & ice cream! Often it would fill them up so much that come supper time, they weren’t quite ready for it!
Watching and listening to her reading story after story to Liam on our couch just over a month ago.
Family dinners where copious amounts of yummy food was placed in front of us, on a table that was always set beautifully. She had such a knack for pulling together the most mismatched pieces and creating a beautifully comfortable space.
“Shopping” in her closet every time I’d come home for a visit – the woman had incredible taste in clothing! My only disappointment was that our feet were never the same size…mine being 7’s and hers being 9’s.
Driving around town in that little orange “Bug” with the top down in the summer…driving up Columbia Street in the winter in a different “bug” in which the windshield wipers didn’t work very well on a VERY snowy evening. I will never forget Lois driving with one arm out the window, snowbrush in hand, clearing the window every few minutes. We laughed so hard as our feet froze!
She was always the first one to shed tears whenever extended goodbyes were required – and it was not uncommon for those goodbyes to take an hour. Ironically, her own leaving of us was quiet and quick, without any of those difficult and tear-filled goodbyes. She hated them. I hate them.
Christmas this year is going to be filled with bittersweet memories. I expect there will be moments of collective tears as we remember her and miss her presence with us. I also expect there will be quiet moments of weeping after the day is done and all is quiet, when I have nothing but Christmas lights and memories keeping me company, long after everyone else has gone to sleep. While it hurts and it’s hard, I am so grateful that the hurting comes from a place of much love and cherished memories.