Red Birds

red birds
red birds

Originally written Sunday, June 07, 2015

Dear Mom,

I didn’t write last week even though there was so much I wanted to say. I’m learning that when I want to talk to you most I choose to shut out your memory. A coping mechanism that really doesn’t help me cope at all I suppose.

So, about our first trip without you—it was wonderful and terrible at the same time. Dad loved it. Austin loved it. I loved it. But, we wanted you there. I have a new found appreciation for all that you did to plan our vacations and get us to our destination. Getting to Bozeman was a production—I’ll spare you the details and sum it up by saying there was no method to the madness and we were all a lot happier once we arrived. So thank you for all that you did year in and year out to make every vacation memorable. And thank you for all that you did for 24 years, 10 months and 21 days to make me feel loved more than I could ever express.

The ranch itself was a dream. Mom, I herded cattle—I was on a horse for 8 hours in the rain. This is no exaggeration. A first and last time kind of a thing, but I told you I’d make you proud! I also caught a trout fly fishing (in a stocked pond, but we can keep that to ourselves). It was one of those trips where a lot of memories were made—and not just the memories of the stuff we did, but in doing it together. I realized that maybe for the first time since you’ve been gone Dad, Austin and I were able to enjoy the here and now. It was/is a strange feeling, but a good one too.

But I have to switch gears a bit and tell you about our message at church today. It was on reconciliation and resolution—something I feel like these letters have been pointing me toward. So, it should come as no surprise that I thought of you, of our relationship the entire time.  And here’s what I now know—I know I won’t be able to have peace with you. We won’t be able to talk this out, and I won’t be able to hear you say “I’m sorry”, “it’s not your fault”, “I would never do this if I could go back and do it all over again”. But I can have peace. That’s what I learned today.

I can have peace and pour out the unconditional love that I’ve been given by choosing to let go of your death and remember your life. I know there will still be days where I revert back to the anger and have tunnel vision, only seeing your last days play out in my mind. But that’s okay. You were so awesome that I’ll be able to get back to a place where I remember you. I’m getting there now.

I saw a red bird on the front porch railing as I was walking up to write you this letter. Red birds remind me of you. They only show up when I need you most. When I need you to reassure me. When I need to be reminded of your love, and not your pain. I think I saw this one to remind me that you’re always with me. I may not be able to see it some days. I may not be able to reach out and grab the hope that I know you still have for me, the faith that you had in me, the joy that you took in being my Mom, but you’re still with me. You’re still believing in me, loving me.

Your love was too great to have ended. It left an imprint on my life that will never go away. It will never be undone. You’ve known that I think, and in a sense that red bird today told me that. You’re still my Mom. That’s what the red bird told me today. I love you, Mom. I hope you’re flying high and free.

Love always,

Meri Kate