Mother’s Day non essay

Little people like tunnels
Little people like tunnels
Good evening!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Sunday.

We were driving to the park today to enjoy the sunshine and we passed a cemetery.

Laila goes:

“Gigi’s dead. Is she in there?”

Thanks, darling.

Laila must be pondering death these days. A few weeks ago, Mark was driving me to the start of the OKC marathon at some ungodly hour.

Laila started in then, too.

“The sky is big,” she said. “Heaven’s in the sky.”

She paused.

“Gigi’s dead.”


“She’s in heaven. She’s watching over us.”

She is so blunt and morbid at 4, we had to lolz. But then she’s so sweet. And we like to think the geedge really is watching over us.

Mark got paranoid Laila had become an itsy portent of death and that something bad was going to happen at the marathon.

Nothing did. My knee crumbled at mile 1 — but, c’mon, there are worse things, by a lot.

I wanted to share a column I wrote about my mom, aka Gigi, a few years back.

Today, it is too sad for my taste. While I still agree with much of what I wrote, saying the day is “bittersweet” doesn’t reflect how I feel at this moment in time. I mean, I am a mom. Yes, I’m celebrating the Mother’s Day holiday without mine — however, rather than focus on my family’s loss, I’d rather focus on the present. I had a great day today with my family. I did things to remember my mom. I wore my favorite ring of hers. I had a Chai tea latte and splurged on a pedi. I gardened with Laila. Then we all went to an adorable garden in downtown OKC. Myriad Gardens had set up as The Secret Garden. That was one of my favorite books as a little kid.

I wish my garden were the secret garden
I wish my garden were the secret garden

However, I’ll still share the column, because, maybe someone else out there is going through their first Mother’s Day without their mother. Maybe they take it to the Internet looking for a break from gushy Facebook posts about mom, kids (guilty, guilty … ), Maybe there are a lot of people reminded today of what they don’t have, in one way or another.

Plus, cancer sucks. I think we can all agree.

That being said, I had a great day with my little family. Life goes on after cancer. It gets easier. Grief is always around when you lose someone like my mom, who I was very close to. But the good memories stay, too. Let’s make a pact to make lots of those while we still can.

Here’s what I wrote back in ’12:

Today is Mother’s Day, and it’s bittersweet.

In October 2011, my mom’s’s life force left the building. I held her as she died. She was 59.

Cancer sucks.

But I had my daughter, Laila, who was then nearly six months old. And now, a year. My ma, Gayle, got to meet her. And love her.

I wish things were different. That I was bringing flowers to her instead of to her grave site on Mother’s Day. The loss stings extra on days like today.

But my husband is warning me: This column is getting way too sad. And that’s not my point.

When she died I had no regrets. And that was lucky. Because she knew what she meant to me. I told her often. We talked every day.

Ode to Gayle
Ode to Gayle

I’d like to think we made up for the years that I wasn’t, always good to her, from about age 13 through early 20s. Fights about school. Fights about boys. Fights about plans, about life. Eye rolls, dirty looks, the occasional screaming match and a whole bunch of inner conflict on my part.

It’s like that one indoor soccer game. Which I forgot about until the months before my mom’s death, when I had become a mom and we were reminiscing back on those tumultuous teenage years. I was 15. And she came to watch my game. And I ignored her, and shot her a look that could have turned her to stone when I noticed she was there. Probably, because some boy was there. And moms were, like, lame. And annoying. And, like, whatever. She told me before she died that dirty look broke her heart a little. And I felt so bad.

When my baby looks at me and says ‘”mama,” I melt. And if she spurned me like that I’d hide my tears and definitely guilt-trip her about it years down the road, when we were on better terms. When I’d raised her right and finally we were friends on equal footing.

I always needed my mother and wanted her oft-unsolicited advice to accept or reject, but there was no way I’d admit it for nearly a decade after that soccer game. I gave her that look, but I bet I would have been upset if she’d not shown up. My daughter has already started down that path. When I’m playing with her and want a hug, she runs away. When I try to get something done on my lap top, she wants to be held. Oi. God help me 12 years from now.

When we found out my mom had late-stage, incurable esophageal cancer in April 2009, I moved back home. And we had fun. A lot of it, in the next year and a half she lived it up with the disease. Our goal: to think about today, and not a lot about anything else. The only fight to be had was with the cancer.

And like I said at her funeral in October 2010, it took her body, and that was it. It never defeated her spirit. Not for an instant.

People wondered how I could make a speech the day we buried my mother. But it was the easiest thing I’d ever done.

Letting her go was the hardest.

I’ve got a point, and this it it: babies, be good to your mamas. Today, and every day that you can. And go ahead and fight, but make amends quickly. Grudges aren’t worth it.

Hopefully your mama’s a good one. I like to think most are, or try to be. It’s likely they’ve just got your back. To a fault, they’ve got your back.

I get it now what a mama’s love is and the depths it reaches.

Today, I’ll take flowers to my mother’s grave. Grave sites, I’ve found, are surprisingly 1-year-old friendly. No traffic. Well-kept grounds. Very little the baby can pick up and choke on.

Laila has no idea we’re on hallowed ground. She thinks it’s a playground with large gray blocks everywhere. We like to say hi to her “Gigi” there on weekends. I admit once I brought her a chai tea. But my mother is not really underground. She’s elsewhere. Her life force has left the building. But it’s in me.

Guiding me away from the purchase of linen pants – they will wrinkle in 30 seconds. Feeding me the perfect come-back – 20 minutes too late. Peppering advice with folksy sayings that hinted at a Southern up bringing. Telling me to keep my mouth shut and think. Listen. And then filter. Still working on that. And encouraging me to forge ahead, forge ahead, always, no matter what.

This is my second Mother’s Day with Laila. I’m hoping for a long and happy life with her. That one day, we’ll be good friends, on equal footing. And I’m wishing all you mothers out there the same.

My buddy!
My buddy!

The Facebook afterlife, Part 4

Hello again and Happy Mother’s Day!

What’s below is a story about my mom that covers a few things, namely, my mom, her death, Facebook and finding happiness in memories after a loss.

If you are just joining me, read or listen to The Facebook afterlife in parts. Here is Part 1. Here is Part 2. Here is Part 3. This is the last in the series.

The below post is a turning point in the story – the point it finally ceases to be so darn depressing. You just can’t sugar coat a loss that big.

Listen below or read my transposed essay. The subject matter is bittersweet, but the recording makes me giggle. I resorted today to hiding in a closet to talk to my phone for 3 minutes. That’s why Laila is in the background howling “Mommy! Mommy!” She was looking for me, poor darlin.

The Facebook afterlife, Part 4

Juliana again talking about my mom in advance of Mother’s Day. She died of cancer in 2010.

After she died, my family left her Facebook profile page up.

We thought at first we needed to decide what to do with it.

Almost three years later, what I’ve discovered is, we don’t actually have to decide anything, on any timeline, other than the time line of our own grief.

In Italy, with olives.
In Italy, with olives.

Grief sets its own clock.

We like having her there online.

We like looking at her pictures.

It’s a place where my mom had made a scrapbook of her own life.

She shows the world the life she wants people to see.

Most of the pictures on her page were taken while she had cancer.

What she shows people is that she’s alive.

She’s alive. She’s alive and she’s in Ireland. She’s in Italy. She’s riding a horse. She’s spending time with her friends, her family, my Dad, my sisters, me, my daughter Laila, who was 6 months old when she died.

It’s a real comfort for us to have her there online.

We’re just not going to do anything with it.

Mom with my sister, Emily, and brother-in-law, Kyle. Riding horses!
Mom with my sister, Emily, and brother-in-law, Kyle. Riding horses!

My sister wrote her a message after she had died.

I logged into her page once and saw my sister’s message there and read it.

I only told my sister about that today. I planned to mention it here so I thought she better know beforehand.

On her birthday, my mom’s friends write her little notes.

If it brings comfort to us, if it brings comfort to other people, we’re just going to leave it up.

A loss that big doesn’t go away.

Someone has described grief as being kind of like waves, which I think is a very good description.

I think of it more like an ocean.

It’s an ocean that magically fits inside your body.

You carry it around.

It’s calm sometimes. Other times it’s stormy.

It’s felt calm for me lately. But it’s there, just like my mom is always with me.

If she’s online as well, I think that’s fine.

The Facebook afterlife
I’ve got my own kids now. It’s almost Mother’s Day.

I’ll think about my mom. I’ll smile. I might look at pictures of her online, or just look at pictures I have of her.

It will bring me a lot of happiness.

I’ll feel very happy having my own kids, and having the time that I did have with my mother, who was a wonderful mother.

She taught me everything I knew about being a mom.

I’m sure wherever she is, she’s got WiFi.

Coming at you mom, from the Internet.

Love you.

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While I have your attention, I wanted to spread this message from the Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN), an organization started by a friend of mine, Mindy Mordecai. Her husband died of esophageal cancer and she started a nonprofit to help others.

The organization’s goal is to spread awareness about this fast-growing cancer – and it’s link to heartburn, something that is not well known. My mother died of esophageal cancer and we believe it could have been related to chronic indigestion or a condition called Barrett’s esophagus. It was incurable by the time it was detected.

Check them out on Facebook and give them a “Like.”

This is her organization’s message:

The most important action you can take to help ECAN reach its goals is to pass along our message to those you know.

Tell them that persistent heartburn, or a cough or hoarseness you cannot explain is reason enough to ask your doctor if you need an upper endoscopy or one of the newer technologies to determine if you have Esophageal Cancer or its precursor, Barrett’s Esophagus.

If you liked this post or feel motivated to spread the message about esophageal cancer, please consider sharing it on your social media channels! xoxo’s, j


The Facebook afterlife, Part 3

Hello again!

I’m talking about my mother, Gayle, who died in 2010.

My goal is to get through the sad stuff and get to the happier parts by Mother’s Day! I don’t want to depress anyone – but the fact is, these holidays are bittersweet for a lot of people.

I’m a mom and get to be with my family, at the same time, I do miss my own mother. Perhaps that’s where the below creative energy has come from. Grief. It’s a particularly motivating emotion. It’s a byproduct of love, the stronger of the pair, if you ask me.

Oprah told me to say that.

If you are just joining me, read The Facebook afterlife in parts. Here is Part 1. Here is Part 2.

I’m talking about my mom, her death and social media – Facebook. It’s almost Mother’s Day, so I’ve taken a diverting, open-ended mixed media journey from the day-to-day to talk about my mama.

Here is Part 3:

Continue reading The Facebook afterlife, Part 3

The Facebook afterlife, Part 2

Me again.

Here is the Facebook afterlife, Part 2.

And I have to apologize – this is really a sad section of the story. I’m trying to get through the sadder parts so by Mother’s Day it will be a little happier!

I also want to write a nutritional update on sweet boy Eli this weekend. I learned a few things this week. I don’t plan to write about Eli in sections or parts. My buddy has had enough drama.

Before you read what’s below, read Part 1 first.

I”m talking about Mother’s Day and my own mom, who’s not with us any more. She died, in 2010.

Before she died there was something we needed to do.

We needed to get her Facebook password.

My sisters nominated me to talk to my mom about this, along with some other matters.

You want to to respect someone’s wishes after they’ve died.

To be able to respect their wishes and do what they want you have know what they want.

To know what they want you need to ask them what they want.

No one wants to do this.

It’s admitting death is there.

It’s just really hard.

I’d never faced it. Anything like this.

My mom and I had the conversation in her bed. She was really sick.

She was weak at that point. She could barely talk.

But we needed the information.

She gave me the password.

I gave it to my sisters.

That was that

We didn’t discuss anything else after we had the password.

That would entail thinking further ahead than the moment we were in.

No one wanted to do this at that time. It was hard enough just dealing with the fact she was so sick.

My sisters made a decision and they didn’t include me in it. We ended up getting in a fight.

They tried to delete her profile before she had died.

For whatever reason, I had no reference for comparison or anything like that, but this just horrified me.

I had strong feelings about this, this deletion of the profile while she was still alive.

I didn’t care she had a foot in either world. She’s here.

So, to, should her Facebook profile be here.

So we had to have a discussion about what to do next.