Sunday, November 13, 2011

Round 2


(I swear I have started at least 3 posts in the last week, but I never finish them.)


Just the other day, I was home in bed with an awful migraine. I actually kept reminding myself: “Chemo must have been worse,” because my head was hurting so much. I took some medicine, pulled my blankets over my head, and squeezed my eyes tight.

I swear, at the time, it felt as if I squeezed my eyes tight enough, I would be home in Lake Forest, and my mom would be in my room before I knew it bringing me a miracle cure for my headache. A cheeseburger, dark chocolate, and chicken noodle soup all seemed like wonderful and perfect options that I know she would have brought in for me—there’s also of course the strong possibility she would have brought rum balls in as well, since they are the Polish cure for everything. However, when I opened my eyes, all I woke up to was 1. A continued splitting headache and 2. My house in LA. Sometimes it’s tough to miss someone so wonderful.

This is why, a little over a month ago, when I wrote my mom’s eulogy, I wrote a letter to her to convince her of her amazingness. It seemed only fitting that I outline exactly how amazing she was, because she deserved such a reminder. I mentioned her giant heart, her penchant for striking up conversations with total strangers, and the fact that she was always right (despite how much I hated it) and the fact that she always knew what to say in every situation.  I shared her infamous advice to me when I was in grade school: “Life is tough, Alex. People aren’t always going to be nice to you. Suck it up.”  (And of course, she was right. Case in point: the fact that I am standing up here right now…). There are certainly times that I’ve needed her advice and wish she were here to give it to me right now.

Now here we are celebrating her life again. It seems that days like these are filled with some of the most confusing emotions: We feel happiness and joy to be together, to celebrate such a wonderful woman, and we also feel this indelible pain of losing someone we loved so much. In October when we were in Florida, many of the people who surrounded us had only known my mom when she was sick. Even so, they all commented about how she had a sparkle in her eyes when she smiled and a personality that glowed even though she was unable to speak to us.

Today what is wonderful is that almost all of us here have our own memories to share about my mom when she was healthy. Whether we knew her as Liz, Lizzie, Ms. Magiera, Mom, Cioc, Jadzia, or Magiera’s mom, we all know my mom was a force to be reckoned with, and she never took no for an answer. She was a go-getter, the woman who met my dad and pretty much instantaneously decided that he was the man she would marry, despite his being 13 years her senior, and having some pretty awesome premature balding and intense sideburns. What a smart woman she was to be able to spend 39 years married to her soulmate.

About a week ago, in an attempt to break the weirdest form of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced, I reached out to friends and family to ask them to share some of those memories about my mom. As I read emails and talked with some of you about her, I found myself laughing. A lot. Yes, my mom was brilliant—she knew something about everything…and according to my sister and her husband, she would have been their “Phone a Friend” lifeline if they ever went on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, but one of the things that resonated from everyone’s stories is how my mom never really took life all too seriously. She loved her friends and family more than life itself and would do anything to protect us, but beyond that, my mom never seemed to “sweat the small stuff.”

As part of the M&M bowling team, yes you heard that right, my mom and dad were a part of the McGivern and Magiera bowling team with our church, my mom apparently employed an interesting bowling strategy. Patti, your story was just too perfect, so I hope you don’t mind my reading it verbatim: Your mom was especially fun to bowl with. Your dad, being the avid bowler that he was, would get up, get into position and then would throw a perfect strike.  And I mean every time.  Then it would be your mom’s turn.  She’d get up, grab her ball and walk up and throw it down the bowling lane without even stopping at the line to position herself.  She’d then turn and walk back to her seat without even watching where the ball would land.

If that isn’t the epitome of how my mom lived her life, I’m not sure what else is. My mom didn’t go bowling because she thrived on the intense OLB competition, and she certainly was not concerned with her bowling technique; she went bowling because she loved being a part of the M&Ms, being with her friends, and of course being with my dad. The bowling? That was just a way for her to spend time with people she loved. 

As Chris recalled last night, her attitude toward card games was quite the same. I can’t tell you how many times we heard, “Can I just put down this 7 card straight?" or “Oh, that's worth a lot of points? Here, Alex take two of the aces, that will help...". She would gladly tell anyone that she won in life by having a wonderful family and being surrounded by amazing friends, and well, winning Gin Rummy 500 (which she did…all the time…) was just a perk.

I hope you all know that if my mom were here today she would be glowing, because you are the family and friends she cherished, the people who made her happy every day. I know she would want to tell each of you how much she loves you and how wonderful you are, and it seems only fitting to take a moment to remind you of that. You are wonderful, and we are so lucky to know all of you.

Now, I couldn’t find a way to say this next part in a better way than I did in October, so bear with me:
…here we are, Mom. We’re at your funeral. In some ways, this implies I need to speak about the woman you “were”. The woman you used to be. Your amazingness though is not just in the woman you were. You are amazing, because even though you may not physically be present with us anymore, you will always be present in our hearts and everything we do.  

I’m not sure if you caught that, but in typical Liz-fashion, my mom is pushing all of us to be our best selves…and she’s not even here. There are so many people who didn’t get to know my mom, and so I know I have this obligation, this wonderful obligation, to tell my friends and family that I love them just as she would have and to try to make my mom proud. Sure, there are those moments when I hope that if I squeeze my eyes just tight enough, my mom will tap me on the shoulder or I’ll hear her voice again…it hurts sometimes, it hurts a lot, and I don’t think that will ever go away—how could it be possible to not miss someone so great? However, as I said in October, life is tough. Life would have been much tougher on all of us if we didn’t have my mom. She makes us who we are today, she gives us the strength to make it through losing her, and she will always be here with us, no matter what comes our way.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...