Thursday, January 7, 2010

in my heart

The snow is falling again outside. Other than the humming of the furnace, my house is quiet. Brian is working, Dora is finally in bed, the pets are settling in for the night. I should be heading to bed as well, but I really must write tonight, must mark this day. You see, it's January 7th, and my mother died 5 years ago today.

As I sat in Dora's room tonight, trying to put her to bed, I thought about writing this entry and what I wanted to say. There is so much to say, I don't even know where to start. I realize that trying to bring all that I feel and think about this into one place and express it in words is next to impossible. I have the same feelings about trying to write about all that Dora's birth means to me, which makes sense, given that these two great passages are so spiritual, transformative, other-worldly.

I miss my mom, and I always will. When she died I remember wondering how I could possibly survive without talking to her every day. Amazingly, I have survived, but the loss of that friendship with my mom, of that confidant that she always was for me - that has left a hole in my life that can never be filled. I wish, so much that it hurts, that she could be here to enjoy my sweet girl. I wish I could ask her what to do - how to be a good mom and a good wife, how to balance what you love with what you have to do, how to hang on to humor through all of life's ups and downs like she did.

Although I have cried about my mom today, several times, and although it will always be a sad day for me, I also enjoy it on some level. I enjoy having a day that can be focused on her memory, in which I can acknowledge the heartache that today represents while also remembering the happiness that my mom's life brought to me and to others. I like that this can be a day when my family reflects on who my mom was and what she meant to all of us. That is not to say that I'm not thinking of her on other days, because I am, but it's just that today will always be about her, for me, and that makes it feel like the distance between my mom and I might not be quite so infinite.

On the first anniversary of my mother's death, we had moved to Asheville. It was our first winter here, we were living in our little rental house on Martin Avenue. We had fewer pets, simpler jobs. Dora was only a glimmer in our eyes. That first year, January 7th fell on a weekend. It was a milder winter here, and Brian and I drove out to Lake Lure to look around. I took my camera. We parked by the lake and got out of the car. Along the edge of the lake was a line of young trees, bare branches against the January sky. I looked closer and saw they were cherry trees, and our mild winter had brought forth early pink buds - a reminder of the warmth of spring, a burst of color against an otherwise gray landscape. I will always remember that moment, how it felt like something special and important had happened.

January 7th is like that little pink cherry bud for me - a little burst of color in the grayness, a little reminder of something warm, a little solitary space where my mother's memory can be my focus, my strength, my promise of transformation and life. I will hold that moment in my heart forever, right where it belongs, with my mom.

Carol Mae Brady Runser
June 19, 1936 - January 7, 2005
May light perpetual shine upon her.


  1. Awesome picture, awesome post! It IS hard to put into writing something that has such strong and deep emotions attached to it, but you have done very well here. I can feel your pain. I wish I had known your Mom better, I know that she was a wonderful woman. I wish too that Dora could have known her first hand, but she will know her through you. Take care, Carrie... I'll be thinking of you.

  2. Your mom was a wonderful person but she is VERY MUCH alive in you and sweet Dora. I know because I see it every day. Just skip the clam spaghetti please :)

  3. Carrie,

    A beautiful remembrance of your mother. This year, in February, will be the 20th anniversary of my father's death. No matter how many years removed his death is from me, the anniversary of the death is always a fragile day. One of the last ways I can still love him is by remembering the day.



  4. Thank you so much, Brian - Its true that our way of loving those who are gone is to continue remembering them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. C-
    I've kept the link of your blog in my in-box since you first sent it out, and I will pop in to read your entries 1-2 times a week. I've always enjoyed your writing and your outlook in life - even back in our younger "Governor Scholar" days. This entry was especially touching to me because I lost my mom on October 20th. I'm still trying to imagine a world without her b/c we were so close, but with each passing day, it gets a little better. Thank you for sharing your love, pain, and raw emotions with us, your loyal readers!

  6. what a beautiful tribute... my thanks for sharing it with me, us. perhaps it will be helpful to you, something I have learned since my father died so long ago, and that is this: death ends a life, not a relationship.... peace in the journey, and in the ongoing relationship you will always have with her.

  7. Patti - Thank you so very much for your warm thoughts. You are so right that the relationship lives on. I feel so fortunate to have this place to honor it, to voice my feelings about it, to keep our relationship alive through my words.

    Thank you for visiting and sharing these thoughts!