It’s been so sunny and warm and nice outside lately, and let me tell you: my productivity is shot as a result. You know the opening scene of High School Musical 2 where they’re all whispering summer at an increasing speed and the clock at the front of the room is getting bigger and bigger? (If you don’t, you should. Quality movie.) Well, the inside of my brain is like that, except everything is on fire and I’m rocking in the corner, sobbing uncontrollably. Summer. I cannot wait for summer. The weather is not helping; this is happy spring time weather, not sad school work weather. This is the weather spring break deserved.

Speaking of spring break, I never finished the story of our spring break road trip. I think I stopped somewhere around Pittsburgh. After Pittsburgh, we headed to Louisville, away from the snow storm that was chasing us. In Louisville, we stopped for dinner at a little bar that was having “Service Industry Night.”; meaning we walked in, made plates, sat down and ate, and walked out. Free food, cool atmosphere, cold weather, but a good night.

We headed out of Kentucky the next morning to get to Nashville. Once we got there, we went on a tour of The Grand Ole Opry, which is pretty cliche and tourist-y, but also really freaking cool. As a country music fan, I was in hog heaven. The amount of history in that building is amazing and I was so fascinated and kind of in awe at all of it. We even got to walk onto the stage and stand on the famous wooden circle that was moved to the current building in 1974 and survived the major flood that hit Nashville in 2010. I was only standing on it for a couple of seconds, but that couple of seconds was emotional for me.

You see, I get my love of country music from my mom. And after walking through the Grand Ole Opry, all I wanted to do was tell her everything I had seen because she would have loved it. I can’t think of a person who would want to hear about it or see all the pictures I took more than my mom. Standing on the stage was crazy because I remember watching grainy TV images of all the people my mama (and as a result, I) idolized stand on that same stage. It’s such a small thing, and not a particularly unique experience, and yet, for a few seconds it felt like my mama was still alive.

And after it was over, I called my aunt. Because I couldn’t call my mama. I tried to think about other things, but for the rest of the day, I had this uneasy, nervous tension because I knew I wanted to talk to my mom and I knew I couldn’t. Living with that is hard. Everyday, I think of something I want to tell her, and no matter who I tell those stories, I still feel like I have this unfinished business that I can’t take care of. Writing helps, but it doesn’t fix it. It’s been over four years since I’ve been able to call my mom and talk about my day. I miss that daily phone call more than I can even describe. It’s a constant dull, ache in the back of my mind that never goes away. But in a way, I’m glad it doesn’t. I’m terrified I am going to forget her, but this weird sense that something is out place or missing has followed me constantly for four years now; I don’t foresee it leaving. And even though it hurts, it reminds me that I used to have a mom who I loved so much and who loved me enough to answer the phone every day without fail, regardless of what she was doing, even if she was going to see me in ten minutes.

It’s a reminder that she was really real; the more time passes, the more she feels like a dream. There’s this great Ed Sheeran lyric from his new album: “A heart that is broke is a heart that’s been loved.” The pain I feel at her absence is what keeps her memory alive and makes her real. I need that, as weird as that may sound. Without fail, her memory sneaks up and punches me in the stomach when I least expect it, like when I’m standing on the Grand Ole Opry stage with my friends, laughing at something stupid one of them said. And I’m thankful for that.

 

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