I know. You told me so. Though eternity separates us, I can hear you say it from across the cosmos.
Mom, you can not wear high-rise underwear with The Gap Curvy low-rise jeans.
It’s taken me more than half a decade to heed that advice. God (and you) only know how many times my aqua panties have stuck out with my little muffin top in my size 14 jeans. I used to hate it when even in the worst of health you found the tenacity of spirit to reach down the back of my jeans and pull my underwear into one big wedgie. That was just plain wrong.
So, in loving memory of you, this birthday week I took the big plunge and bought my first pair of low-rise underwear. Well, not my first pair; I owned some lavender bikinis when I was sixteen and weighed a buck twenty-five.
You left me with so many shopping challenges. Why is it that whenever I’m waiting in line to buy intimate apparel, and there are five or six female check-out associates at T.J. Maxx, that I am advanced forward to the one and only male clerk? And it’s never just some old guy; it’s always the twenty-something year old handsome boy with the million dollar smile and tiny smirk that chimes, “Will this be all for you, ma’am?”
Sweet Jesus…”Ma’am” always means “You’re my mamma’s age.”
Anyway, take your momma’s granny panties off your eternal check list of things for me to do. For your birthday, I want to weigh in with the big news that after a lifelong struggle with weight, I’m down 35 pounds. Thank you, dear Megan, for vision that believed that I would one day lay aside the overwhelming weight of grief and that I would sow and reap a healthy life without you.
I know you privately told all your friends and family that you were worried about me living without you. Surely it’s not a coincidence that I reside in a home with a nationally certified body pump instructor. Thank you that you believed that my o’ so tired body would find a way, and you left me little P.S. I Love You notes in the language you know best…clothes.
You gave me that eBay buy of the century; a Neiman Marcus silk brocade coat, Jackie O style. You bought it for me with just about your last dollar. When the exquisite size 10 coat arrived in 2007, I was not quite sure what imaginary mom was going to wear it. I guess the woman you imagined me to be. On this day, your 32nd birthday, I’m swaggin’ it. And that quilted black leather Chanel-like jacket….thank you for knowing that your mom was more than a caregiver. Forty-four months of surgeries, appointments and paperwork turned me into Barbara Bush. Thank you for buying me a jacket (that at the time was three sizes too small) to remind your mom that before cancer…before children…I was a beautiful bad-ass woman ready to conquer the world. I lost sight of that when I could not conquer cancer on your behalf. That jacket no longer hangs with imaginary possibilities. It perfectly zips up over my size 8 low-rise jeans and new DKNY underwear, minus the muffin top.
Born from your love of Belldini clothing, you also left me with Joseph Essaghian. The best accessory is a good friend, and he has been a big brother, spiritual advisor, and a mentor to your mom. Might I add, that his generosity, and my made-for-hoarders closet of Belldini clothes, has been the saving grace that keeps me from looking like Wednesday Adams of The Adams Family.
Check Bloomfield Dr. off your list, too. This year I lost the emotional weight of the house that weighed me down with memories of you. It was impossible to move forward when my surrounding geography demanded that I look back.
Maybe the biggest weight that was lifted was my own anger. Why did you leave me? No matter how many bible classes I attended, your mom was not a spiritual giant, immune from the looming thought that I must have done something wrong for The Almighty to take your life. In the book “Beyond Tears: Living After Losing a Child” Barbara G. writes
I thought I had been singled out, punished for some unknown deed…
What was God thinking? So, I stepped down from the podium at your funeral with the thought of never re-entering Sunday spiritual civilization. But late summer of 2012 that all changed, too. After driving by a particular church approximately 500 times, I took yet another big plunge in my life and entered the door of a thriving and elegant worship center housed in a former Wal-Mart. As an architect’s daughter I wondered if they were in the business of restoring a Wally World, what could they do with a human life?
From my first step into the sanctuary, they snagged your mom’s attention, and I made a decision to pull on my big-girl panties and deal with all the issues that were holding me back from living a happy life without you. To quote the book “Transcending Loss”
I was lucky in finding some very fine pastoral ministers who could touch my pain instead of letting me run away from it….The ministers didn’t come and cry with me, but they had the insight to articulate in a pastoral way. Their words could pierce into my defenses, could pierce into my heart, could pierce through to who I was in a way that ultimately was very healing.
Thank you that on your 27th Birthday you blew out the candles and wished that I would have a good life without you. Your dream is coming true, and my world is finding order, even down to my underwear.
I miss you, my Birthday girl.
- Megan was a no-nonsense kind of woman. We tried on clothes before purchasing, and if they didn’t fit we didn’t buy them. It was very unusual for her to purchase a few things for me that I had no chance of wearing at the time. Her goal for me was not to be thin, but to be fit. With a high incidence of cancer and high blood pressure in my family, maintaining my weight is paramount to healthy living.
- I continue to purge my closet of things that are too big, and items that hold big, bad memories of Megan’s last days. Even last week I realized “Why would I still keep and wear the dress that I wore to Megan’s funeral?” It’s outta here…heading for e-Bay.
- It is normal to feel angry at God after the death of a loved one. God is big enough to handle it.
On A Lighter Note:
- The Urban Dictionary defines swaggin’ as walking with meaning. It’s a word I just learned at my new multi-racial church.
- Belldini leggings are THE BEST in the world! Sorry you never got to try them, Megan, but I’m lovin’ them!
- In my generation ‘thongs’ are flip flops that you wear on your feet…not a piece of string that some define as underwear.
- The most famous underwear discussion in history? MTV – 1992 – Bill Clinton is asked “Boxers or Briefs?”
Yet another strong and candid entry, Val. Lessons in lines like “It was impossible to move forward when my surrounding geography demanded that I look back” give potency to your blog because they say so much so clearly in such little space. This, in addition to your ability to keep even the most somber of topics fun and interesting, really excels your literary efforts above the rest in a world overpopulated with bloggers. Keep up the awesome work!
As I read I was in awe, as I always am when it comes to you! I respect and love you so much. You are the one person I go to for wise advise, God has done a marvelous work in you and I know without a doubt He has so much more to come,
🙂 Amazing Race?
Hi Valerie, I was introduced to your story through Erin. In some ways I am your Megan. Thank you for your levity, and providing this window into your heart and mind. And for what it’s worth re your book: “get er done” 🙂
Dear Michael, Words are so very powerful. Reading “In some ways I am your Megan.” stirred me deeply…moved me to tears. You left this blogger speechless. I jumped over to your blog http://www.mikejendougherty.blogspot.com, which confirmed that your passion for life does make you a kindred spirit to my Megan. I would say “hats off to you…” but I want you hanging on to that James Taylor masterpiece. And the fact that you tracked down the exact manufacturer of the cowboy wonder makes you a twin to Megan’s tenacity of spirit. May your life be full beyond your wildest imagination, and your eyes behold the first, second and third edition of Put Up Your Umbrella. I’m going to ‘get er done.’
You made my day sweetheart. Erin speaks so fondly of you and I can see why. We’ll “get er done” together, Ok?
Count on it!
Stunning. This is stunningly good and you are stunningly talented. Megan was stunningly lucky and SMART. Love you, Beautiful Lady ~ Happy Heavenly Birthday, Megan ~
Thank you, ‘the neighbor’ for always having vision for my life…beyond what you saw from across the street! Love you, my friend!
Again, Wow!!! As you have heard on numerous times, you have an incredible gift of assembling life-size experiences into beautiful words. Our hope is that each unwritten chapter of your book-to-be will capture the full and happy ending of all God has in store for you. We believe in you and know that for YOU the “best is yet to come”!
You have imparted so much truth and grace into my life in such a short amount of time. Might I add that service makes this Wednesday Adams girl laugh out loud, and it is clearly overflowing into my writing. Old chapters that were written are literally being redrafted with the HOPE and JOY that you and your husband have given me. From my heart, thank you!
Another beautiful tribute to your amazing beautiful daughter! As I ponder the Birthday of Megan I pray your day is filled with amazing peace spilling over with the goodness of God for letting you be Megans Mom although cruelly short. You are loved Valerie. You’ve touched so many with the prophetic utterances of Gods destiny, mine included. You give hope and humor and logical information lol. Love you forever♥ Michelle. ..Renee to you:)
It’s been three decades, and knowing you are touching your destiny in this season gives me great joy. A new name surely fits your ‘new’ season. Love you, dear Michelle.
Val – You did it again! Made me laugh and cry all at the same time. What a beautiful tribute to Megan and Congratulations on the weight loss. Good for you! Love you as always!
Thank you, my friend, that ALWAYS made me and my girl laugh. We love that about you!
All I can say is “wow”! Another wonderfully written piece. I’m so happy for you Val,and we join with the voice of Megan and say “keep swaggin’ it”.
And how do you say that in Greek? 🙂
Brilliant, beautiful and bad ass. That sums up this piece and you, my dear.
Now, about your book. Your girl ordered me to help you and I’m going to hound you until you get it done. C’mon, mama. Let’s do this! I am ready and so are you!
Love you, Erin
Sent from my iPhone
I concur. Val, the ‘kairos’ time is here! FYI – Greek ‘kairos’ – opportune time, proper time, right time, fullness of time 😉
Dear Nancy, your words, and your timing, are always perfect!
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