“If I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less Keep me in your heart for a while.” - Warren Zevon
As I move from August into September, my mind focuses even more than usual on my mom. The August-September smells, the waning sunshine as evening comes faster, and the days that slowly become cooler fill my heart and soul with longing for what I cannot have.
The Warren Zevon song, “Keep Me In Your Heart” calls to me, as much as music often does. We’ve talked a great deal, and I’ve written a great deal, about the loved one’s death and what it may or may not have meant. I am convinced beyond a doubt that my mom’s “leaving” had little to do with her love for me. Her pain became so overwhelming that suicide became the solution. “They” didn’t love us any less; in fact, for some of “them”, they may have thought this was the best solution for us all.
“When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun, keep me in your heart for awhile.” This is the time of year that I tend to wake up very early and take my morning coffee to the garden where I sit and think. I may be up early enough to see the sun rise. The beauty of those moments can bring tears to my eyes just as the beautiful orange flowers surrounding mom’s rock in my garden can bring tears to my eyes. Beauty is all around me. Yes, I think of her.
“Sometimes when you’re doing simple things around the house, maybe you’ll think of me and smile.” It happens for me a lot. I joke with my family that the last thing I do before I leave for a trip is to wipe down the counters and clean the sink. I tell them that if I die when I’m away, they can tell people at least my kitchen was clean. Of course, they roll their eyes. Mom never left the house cluttered or dirty. She wasn’t OCD about cleaning but she had pride in having things clean and tidy.
“Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams. Touch me as I fall into view. When the winter comes keep the fires lit and I will be right next to you.”
I couldn’t have grieved so deeply if I hadn’t loved her so deeply. We all ask ourselves what their final moments were like. What was going through her head as she made the moves to end her life? Mom faced many challenges in her life and rose to every single one with grace. Her final challenge took strength and courage.
“You know I’m tied to you like buttons on your blouse. Keep me in your heart for awhile.” This phrase is particularly poignant for me as it was blouses we each bought on her last visit to me in Indiana. We each liked the same ones so she suggested I buy one and she buy the other and when she came to visit the next month, we’d swap. After she died, I threw both of them in the trash.
Keep her in my heart? She never left. Remember her for awhile? She is always with me. I have such wonderful memories.
I have a tattoo on my left arm that is her handwriting. I have a tattoo on my wrist with her name and the semi-colon. This past year, I’ve been percolating the idea of adding dad’s name below hers. I think, sometimes, that just because she died the way she did, I remember her more. That isn’t true. I want to add his name. This is often how surviving siblings feel as well. That we remember the dead child more (and the way they died) then we remember the living ones. In the beginning, after the death, we can’t focus on much at all. Every thought, every memory, is wrapped up in that now deceased child. Eventually, as our lives come to some kind of new normal, we may realize this.
“These wheels keep turning but they’re running out of steam. Keep me in your heart for awhile.”
They all “ran out of steam”, didn’t they. Whatever “it” was it took them down. Their reason will never be good enough for us but it was THEIR reason. Faulty? Of course!
As the song throbs through my head on my drive home or my morning garden visit, I smile as I look at the sunrise, the orange garden flowers, the butterfly winging by. Her love and her memory sustain me now.
“Keep me in your heart for awhile…” What a humble statement. You are never out of my heart…