In June, just as we were starting our full-time RV life and journey across the country, my mother died.
I wasn’t there.
Because mom had been adamant that there be no formal funeral service, my sister and I decided we’d hold a family “celebration of life” for her at a later date.
So, in true slow processor fashion, I put my feelings and my grief into a tidy little bundle and packed it away.
Last week, Dave and I took Bella Box On Wheels and the dogs to Tucson where we spent several days leading up to the Saturday family gathering going through Mom’s things.
To say my mother was a bit eclectic would be putting it mildly. It didn’t matter if something matched or went with any other thing she had. From funky clothing to collectible dolls, Native American art or Chinese cloisonne, if she loved it, she bought it, and she never threw it away.
It was the memories and feelings attached to each piece that got me.
Among her jewelry, there was tiny ermine button from her childhood coat and a rhinestone bobby pin given to her by her first high school boyfriend. These reminded me that though she held her emotions close and didn’t share them easily, she held on to these things because of the deep sentimental connection.
As I held that little button, the tidy bundle of grief I’d carefully packed away tore open and forced me to feel it.
The myriad of things she loved and collected held those emotions too. I could feel her in each piece I touched.
I am my mothers’ daughter. I love deeply and hold sentiment for so many things, but I don’t share or show it easily. Even the grief that lay open at my feet was held close. Though no longer packed away in that tidy bundle, I can only process it my own way.
On Saturday, the family gathered to celebrate the life of the woman we knew. I know that as we raised a toast, we each held our own special memory.
That’s where she’ll live on. In our hearts and our memories.
And in a tiny ermine button that now lives with me.