Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Five Yellow Roses

These are the 5 roses we gave to our mother before we put her body in the ground.

This morning at 6:55 a.m., my mother, Bertha Mae Sollenberger Heisey went home to be with Jesus.

Tomorrow we will lay her body in the ground.

Tonight I sit on my bed, under my warm blanket with my kitty at my feet and a candle burning on my dresser.  I haven't wanted to write anything, anywhere for the past six days.  Until now.

I feel a huge sense of closure about to take place that I never saw coming until we came home from the funeral home this afternoon and realized a significant event is taking place tomorrow.  It's suddenly not just about burying my mother but it's also about saying goodbye to the woman tied to decades of memories about two brothers who have been gone for over 40 years but are very much present in our memories and family stories.  Nathan was only 2 when he drowned and Doug was 26 when he was killed in a tractor accident.

I was hit with a wall of tears tonight after returning from the funeral home this afternoon where we ordered five yellow roses for the private burial tomorrow.  She loved yellow flowers.

You see, tomorrow at her graveside at 1:00 p.m., we will arrive and receive the five yellow roses. One for each child she bore. No large spread of flowers on a fancy casket, just a very plain wooden one made of pine and five long-stemmed roses.  At first we ordered three. One for my brother, my sister and myself to place on this special box that holds my mother who once held us.  Almost simultaneously we all realized that we needed five.  Doug and Nathan are as much a part of us as they ever were, especially at this time.  As soon as we lost our mother, they gained one back.

I have detached myself from everything since arriving home from a motorcycle trip that we cut short when she had an emergency surgery a week ago so that I could sit by her side until she departed and I am so glad I did.  This morning when I got the text from my sister that she had passed, the tears ran freely but the peace I had deep inside far surpassed the tears.  We have prayed for this day for so long that I felt a refreshing sense of peace and relief that she finally got her wish.

Day after day I have arrived in the morning (my siblings taking the night watch) and just sat with her most of the day.  It was as if I was able to just 'be'.  The next few days are going to be very busy and I knew they would be.  Until she was actually gone, I wanted to spend these last few days just soaking in what it feels like to be present with her even when she seemed to lose consciousness.

I was not with her when she actually passed, but I was at peace with that, knowing it might happen that way.  My sister got that special privilege and I was so glad.

I didn't know how significant the decision to get 5 yellow roses would impact me until we got home from the funeral home and I burst into tears.  I was too young to remember any of the funerals and burials of my two brothers but their loss has had a huge impact on my soul over the years as I would listen to the stories of their deaths over and over and over....and over.  It's as if I wasn't able to experience something that has had such an impact on my mother's life and mine, but from a distance.

I suddenly realized as I spoke it all out loud to my siblings that somehow I feel like this is a very significant passing.  My mother, the one who told the stories is now gone.  With her go the details and potent feelings.  Though I have plenty of my own feelings about it all, they were always attached to her.  It feels like such a closing of a chapter.  A book. One that I now realize I have needed.

Tomorrow I will get to see five yellow roses offered to my mother who gave birth and life to five of us and had to let go of two of us much earlier than any mother ever should.  It's one of the reasons she has wanted to die.  She has walked through much pain here on earth and was ready to be released from it all.  I don't blame her.  She is now free.  Doug's wife and one of his daughters will be present to place the rose in his memory.  I don't know yet how we will release Nathan's rose but I'm so glad we decided on five, not three.

There are two boys that I know must be really glad to see you Mother and three children left who will really miss you.  Thus, the five yellow roses.