Have you ever built something up so much in your mind and then the reality doesn’t come close? Although I’m sure people do that for things for they are looking forward to such as vacation, I seem to do it for those I want to avoid.
Last weekend I joined my two sisters and brother in Kansas to divide up our mother’s personal belongings and also note what would have been her 74th birthday. It seemed far away when we scheduled it months ago but time doesn’t stop for anyone and before we knew it the time was here.
Dreading the Weekend
People close to me could tell I was dreading the trip weeks in advance. Four questions kept popping up:
1. Will it be too emotional seeing and touching Mom’s things?
2. Could we find a way to fairly divvy up the items?
3. How will I feel seeing Mom’s headstone for the first time?
4. What happens when it is over?
As the date got closer and closer, I became more stressed, worried and filled with sadness. Suddenly, it was time to go and I boarded the plane knowing it had to be done.
Reality Better than Imagined
One of my sisters and I met up in Phoenix and traveled the rest of the way to Kansas together. The last time we were at the airport was the evening of the funeral returning to our homes and a new life. In case I could possibly have forgotten foursquare reminded me of the last time I was there when I checked in.
Once we arrived at our sister’s home I felt better knowing the burden was shared. We had all dreaded the task but knew it had to be done. Our mutual love for our mother and each other got us through the weekend. We got answers to most of our questions.
Answer one: Yes it was emotional going through our mom’s things. But it was also humorous and educational. We laughed at times as we tried to understand why on earth she saved some items. We also saw the love between our parents in a letter our dad wrote two days before their wedding.
Answer two: My sister came up with the ideal of rolling dice to get a number and then we picked items in numeric order. You rolled a high number, you’re number 1. We rolled for a new order every time we finished a category of items (such as jewelry). Everyone got to be first at some point and also last at another.
Answer three: This is harder to answer. I had seen the headstone in pictures so it wasn’t a shock. But I didn’t feel as much emotion as expected; just a general sadness. Maybe that’s a good thing? We visited a second time as a group on Mom’s birthday and released balloons with messages. That was a much better experience and I felt close to mom and my siblings.
Answer four: I don’t know. We call, email and text much more often than before my mom passed. Since she’s not here to connect us, we’re doing it ourselves. But I have no idea when we’ll all be together again. We’ll need to plan something for next year.
I was very glad the weekend was better than expected, but wish I hadn’t wasted so much energy worrying about it. How do you keep from worrying about situations you can’t control?