Today is the anniversary of Rene's passing. I have spent the week reliving the last couple of weeks of Rene's life. It is as though I never really processed it, and my body decided to relive it as a way to finally address it. This was by far the hardest year of my life, and of many others in our family. I discovered, much to my dismay, that Rene was indeed the glue that held us together. Cracks, which may have existed decades before today, became apparent, or even broke open without her here. I am not sure if it was her joy, her patience, her drive to allow us to be exactly who we are without apology, or simply a relentless drive to bring us all together and make us feel our best that held the group together. Without her here, we had to feel the cracks, the breaks, and stand up on our own.
The last two weeks of her life were hard. They were hard on her body, and hard on her heart. They were hard on the hearts of the family. She did not want to go. She was ready, but she was not happy about the fate that stood before her. She wanted to see her grandchildren grow up and be there at there weddings. She wanted to be there for her parents when they most need her. She wanted to join her husband on more Hawaiian vacations with their best friends. She wanted to sit quietly and have more girl time with me. She wanted to nurture her students into college and see them grow into mature young adults. She wanted to do more. Those weeks were hard.
I am also surprised to remember that they were rejoicful in many ways. Rene LITERALLY hung on to every last breath as precious gold, taking in her family as though each individual was the most precious treasure in the world. For her, we are her treasure. Her family, her friends, her God. That was her life. She served others and was fed by the energy of her efforts, though it came effortlessly. I would watch her as she watched the family, come into the room and leave the room. She wanted the children to play near by, just so that she could hear the sounds they made and they happily pushed their cars or interacted. She loved for us to sit and converse in the room, even if she was too tired to keep her eyes open. She wanted to be surrounded by those she loved, and who loved her back. That is the woman she was...devoted until her last breath to those that she loved.
I remember many things about Rene every day. She is so much a part of my day and my subconsciousness. The things that I remember most regularly are small nuances that made her the beautiful mother that I know her to be. Today, I kept remembering the day that she came home with "the best pedi of her life!". A gift from her neighbor. It was a Rose colored polish that stayed on for weeks and looked fabulous! It added a certain spark to her look and her demeanor. It might seem insignificant, but just a little polish, and she glowed like Miss America! She made that polish look like the most stylish and beautiful beauty treatment ever! She did that for pins and scarves as well. They may as well have been from the pages of What's Hot in InStyle Magazine. She rocked a Brighton bracelet like it was a Cartier. She could come home with a $4 blouse and make it look like a designer find. It was her confidence and inner beauty that made these insignificant possessions shine.
Rene's spirit shone a brightness on more that just accessories...she did this for the people that she loved and admired. She brought out the beauty in people that they perhaps did not even see, or indeed others did not recognize. She had a knack for taking the good with the bad, and not resenting the bad. She didn't take it personally. She made my children and husband, my Dad (her husband) and the rest of her family, feel like the best things that ever happened to her. She allowed us to feel special in her eyes, and encouraged us to follow our hearts. She truly wanted us to be happy, and if lucky, make good choices. :)
It is hard for me to pinpoint what I most miss about her tonight. I just miss her. Intellectually, I know that she is in a peaceful place and that I should rejoice, but my heart simply wants her back in person. I miss hearing her say, "Hey Baby" as she opened her front door, I miss her chicken divan, I miss holding her hand, I miss watching What Not to Wear and commenting on the outfits with her, I miss making her try on fabulous and expensive outfits "just because", I miss how she and Jay would sit and make fun of my Dad and I being 'cut from the same cloth', I miss the way she would play with my kids and and hold them like they were treasure, I miss the way that she looked at my Dad with pure love, I miss the way she said "I love you", just because, I miss the way she sang off key because...who cares!, I miss the way that she beamed when she had completed a successful event at work, I miss the way she wiped the kitchen counters down every night before she would turn off the kitchen light and head for bed, I miss her silly nightshirts with cats or flowers on them, I miss her smile, and I miss her voice. I miss all of her, the wonderful, and the even the not so wonderful. I miss all of her. I love who she is, warts and all, just as she loved us.
Today is about Rene, and it is also a new beginning. The pain of loss is deep and acute. It feels much the same as it did one year ago. That said, I know that it is time to move forward and use that pain as energy for driving some of the goodness that she drove every day. I make that commitment to myself and to her.
I love you Rene, today and always.