One woman’s quest to make sense of a nonsensical world after losing her dream home and all her worldly possessions to a raging and sudden wildfire. Exploring the existence of God, our cultural discomfort with grief, what it means to be human as well as life in a 1967 Airstream trailer, Kristen Moeller shares her humanity, her spirit and her dark edge openly for herself as well as for the countless others who beg to be heard in their wild journey through this wacky world.
Walking Through Fire Facebook Twitter LinkedIn RSS Feed

Momma love

Posted on: 63 Comments

If I squint, it might not be true…

If I hold my breath, I can wish it away…

Maybe I will wake up and it will all be a dream, a very bad dream…

The pain stabs suddenly. My stomach, chest and throat clench. Waves of nausea come and go. I go into the pain some moments, and others I wonder if I have the strength.  I know I am in a club that we will all join if it goes how its ‘supposed to’ and we outlive our parents.  On Sunday, I mourned my friend Denise’s passing, who sadly at age 50, did not outlive her parents.  Then two days later, I began the mourning journey of my momma.

There’s nothing like momma love for those of us that are lucky enough to have received that type of loving. IMG_4923Everyone has a mother but not everyone has a momma. I was among the fortunate ones. I was cherished and adored. On a regular basis, my mom would re-tell the story of needing to go on bed rest to keep me.  After two miscarriages, she never gave up and happily did everything the doctor ordered.  She stayed in bed and drew pictures planning for my arrival. I was born in 1966 and two years later, she did the same routine with the same sense of enthusiasm and my brother joined this world.

Unconditional love is what I got from her. I’m not saying that childhood was perfect, but at no time was there ever a doubt of her love. Sometimes I wanted to wave away her stories of adoration – yet at the same time, I was well aware that one day she would no longer be around to tell them.

My mom: movie star beautiful with a contagious thousand-watt smile that she always wore. Eyes the color of the brightest blue sky. The high school Football Queen, a straight A student, a champion swimmer and horseback rider.  An exquisitely talented artist, she started flying at age 40 and retired as a captain on a 727.  She was beloved by so many, touching lives everywhere she went, always leaving people feeling known, seen and appreciated.IMG_4920

My mother gave me my life in 1966.  She saved it again in 1989, when two years after she got sober, she found me the right treatment center and I began my life in recovery.

I feel as if I have been stripped of a layer of skin; the layer that is supposed to protect me from the world. I have had other losses – the fire, pregnancies, beloved mentors – and now my dearest friend Denise. But momma…

Grief comes in waves and I have to learn to ride them. The pain in my heart and stomach begins to rise and that’s the worst part of the ride.  The fear grips me at that moment; fear that it might overwhelm me and completely suck me under, forever.  Then sobs come and in then I am just sobbing, simply going with the physical sensation.  After, a little relief comes, then I’m tired out and calm for a few moments, minutes or maybe even hours. If I am lucky, and around the right people, hysterical laughter can arise in those times too.

The worst is at night, as I lay there trying to sleep, afraid of the thoughts that stampede my mind and overwhelm me.

Yes, I am only two days in to this new momma-less world. I thank those that have gone before me and felt as deeply.  They warn me of the perils yet their warnings feel like comfort as it normalizes the depth of my own grieving.

I appreciate the outpouring of love through Facebook and texts.  Social media is perfect during these times as I can see the love, feel the love and express love back.  It gives my mind something to do. Mostly, speaking feels too risky.

As we hurtle through the air to Orlando on our way to make this even more real, I want to turn back time. I want to stop the plane, I don’t want to land, I don’t want to walk into her house that will still smell like her without her there. I don’t want to make the plans that we have to make, I don’t want to think of a world without her. Thank God I went to see her not too long ago.  Thank God I was really with her, loving her, appreciating her. Thank God, most of the time, I know I was a good daughter.

After the fire, I hoped for life to return to ‘normal’ but I am beginning to see that this is life as normal.  Life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, brief joys and deep sadness, loss and great love – and often we don’t get to catch our breath.  We simply need to keep breathing, in and out, over and over.

Looking out the window at 38,000 feet, I see the view that my mother loved so much during her career as a pilot.  Her time in the sky was heaven to her and she mourned it deeply when she had to retire.  If the smile was ever missing from her face, all you needed to do is point to the sky and say “airplane” and she would light up.  My mother had great joys and great sorrows too. Her beloved sister was killed on a motorcycle on Halloween of 1977, not long after, her father died in his sleep and then her mother died of cancer.  Add in two divorces, the miscarriages, her struggles with alcoholism, then the chronic pain that robbed her of her quality of life, she fought the good fight for a long time.IMG_4944

I paste my forehead against the window and the beauty – then the grief hits again with a waves of nausea

I pray, I wish, I hope you are up here momma. I hope it’s devastatingly beautiful wherever you are.

If she could be flying around seeing these clouds then I know she’s all right. It’s us that are left behind that is the problem. Some have strong faith, I don’t know what I have. I don’t know what I actually believe in but I talk to something much of the time.

Tomorrow we will see her body and I know she won’t be there but I need to say my goodbyes. From what I know of life, I need to walk through this, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. My mother wasn’t perfect, but she was a perfect momma. A light went out when she left us. In a world where there is no forever, she will be forever missed.

 

« « Previous Post: Heading South for the Winter – or Why We Left the Tiny House
Next Post: When Grief Throws You a Curveball » »

63 Responses

  1. Susan Mefford says:

    I cried as I read this

  2. Marny says:

    my heart aches for you sweetie. Having hone through this kind of loss last year with Dad I understand that there is nothing I can do for you but send you love. She was special and brought someone very special into this world. What an incredible legacy you are for her! Sending lots of love!

  3. Christine says:

    Thank you for this…precious.

  4. Beautiful tribute, Kristen to an obviously special and beautiful woman. There isn’t a mom on the planet who doesn’t one day wish to have these words written or spoken about them by their daughter: “Unconditional love is what I got from her. I’m not saying that childhood was perfect, but at no time was there ever a doubt of her love.” Wishing you and your family and loved ones peace. Warmest, Don

  5. MaryBeth Antoinette says:

    Your grief is stunning and palpable. It touches my heart and spirit. May you allow yourself to keep “breaking wide open” as you begin this journey. I send you deep and gentle hugs. God bless you, God bless your Momma and bless your whole family. I am so sorry…

  6. Barb Hart says:

    Grief sucks. Being a member of this club sucks. I only wish others didn’t have to join the club. I would gladly be the sole member cause it pains me to see friends go through the loss of a parent. The hardest thing for me to accept was the fact I never get to talk to my parents again as human beings. You can get through this, Kristen. For some unknown reason, God has chosen you as an uber warrior to survive and share your battles in life. The rest of us benefit cause we think “If Kristen can survive that [sober], I can too”. BIG HUGS. Be kind to yourself as you grieve. P.S. Avoid the card aisle on Mother’s Day.

  7. Ann Sparks says:

    I relate so much with being afraid to fall asleep. It’s horrible, you have to sleep but know the darkness and quiet invite the memories, invasive thoughts, sick pain in the stomach and chest. And there is nothing you can do but endure it. The times I met your Mom, I was overwhelmed with how much she loved you and Rob. It was contagious, you could feel her love coming out of every cell in her body! And she must have been a great woman to produce such wonderful kids. Please know that with time the waves of pain and nausea are replaced with waves of peace and contentment and laughter. You will be washed over with warm and comforting waves of gratitude. It will be crystal clear that you have been given the most important gift of your life – the joy of knowing and loving and connecting with her beautiful soul during it’s time on this earth.

  8. Mary DeOre says:

    It’s so hard to say goodbye to your parents. I lost my mother 32 yrs ago when I was 21. I just list my father in December at the age of 89. Two different feelings on how I feel about their loss. When you lose your mom it is very hard. You have to take one day at a time. Please remember she walks along side of you. That is what has always kept ed me going. I feel the same way about my father. I continue to talk to them everyday and I know they keep watch over me. Never forget that. Remember everyone will one day be together. I pray for peace and comfort for you and will keep you in my prayers.

  9. Martha says:

    So beautiful, Kristen. There is nothing I can add to what’s already been said here. Oooooooodles of love to you. ❤️

  10. Suzanne Levy says:

    Having gone through the pain of losing both of my parents, I know that the only thing that helps with the heavy grief is the passage of time, and the love of family and dear friends. It also took time to realize I hadn’t really lost them, they were still present in my life, just in a different way. Your beautiful momma’s love will always be with you. Sending you so much love, Kristen.

  11. Peggy says:

    Thank you for this absolutely beautiful description of life as your Mom’s daughter. I know that she adored you, as she would tell me so. We spoke on Monday night as we often did to encourage each other on this path. She had been supporting me with the journey of my father’s passing, which is in process as I write. It is with her loving that I know she is riding this path with me now. forever grateful for the privilege to call her my dearest of friends (like a mother only more). God will carry you as you lay back in His loving arms.

  12. coral says:

    I was in tears as I read this, and still now as I write this. Dotty was so much to so many people. You are correct. A light went out, but not completely. She is a shining star in the night sky. There for us all to look at and wonder, and remember her. I remember her infectious smile, that was so sincere it showed through her eyes and just radiated. She was always an inspiration. If someone asked me who my mom’s best friend is, I would say Dotty of course. Time and distance didn’t matter. She was true. Love you friend.

  13. Joan Marcum Warnken says:

    So sorry for your loss Kristen. What a difficult time this must be. First a close friend and now this. What you wrote was so touching, you have such strength. I can only imagine how proud your mother was of you.

  14. Joyce Raftery says:

    I am sorry.
    You said that you got to be with her to love her and appreciate her. My mom never addressed her alcoholism and I didn’t address my resentment until after she passed. Yes, mostly, speaking feels to risky.
    I wish I had had the tools I have now. I miss that chance. There will be another. Love you xx

    • Thank you for the love. There is some poetic beauty in our regrets of what was missed. And, I know that no matter how “complete” we were with people, there will always be something more we wish we could have done or long for. It’s a fine line. Hugs to you.

  15. Jenn Nolte says:

    I read your deeply piercing post about love, imperfection, and savoring finite time while my mom lays in a geriatric psych ward wanting it all to be over, to escape the prison of her depression. It does seem like you just get back to normal after the fire to find that there is no normal. Love to you.

  16. Dawn Herring says:

    I cried when I read this. I remember those waves of gripping complete and total loss after losing my Dad, sadness and fear and thinking the same thing, will i ever recover? How will I live on this planet without my Daddy? My heart aches for you…and I won’t give you anything other than it is exactly as you write, a journey, one foot in front of the other, day to day, sometimes literally minute to minute because that’s just all you’ve got….take care lovely.

  17. Sandy Golnick says:

    Loosing your Mom is so fundamentally a turning point in one’s life. My Mom was 59 and I was 33. It seemed like it was too soon…I felt I needed her so much. As I have come to see, Kristen, is she is there for me. While she is not a physical presence, she is none the less there with me…a part of me. Instead of contracting because of her death, I expanded to include her. Who I am in the world is an expression of “we”. She has given me a greater meaning for being alive. I share her with our daughters and in so doing, she is here now. You will find your Momma, in you and you will know peace. Loving you today and each day. xxxSandy

  18. april says:

    Kristen,
    I love that you made the distinction of “momma” and mother. Those of us who are lucky enough to have a momma are so blessed. Just the other day my “momma” and I were talking. To this day at age 82 she still misses her mom. Wants to pick up the phone and call her to share stories. I don’t know what I will do when I lose her. Like you, I’m sure I will put one foot in front of the other and take it day by day. She told me when she passes to continue to talk to her as she will be listening and watching over me. She made a promise and since she’s never let me down, I believe her. Keep talking to your beautiful momma no matter how much time passes. The love of a child transcends time and space. Sending you love.

  19. Jonathan says:

    …and so it go better and better. The inscription that Dotty wanted on her Mother’s tombstone was passed down indelibly from the women in her family who preceded her. A phrase that will also rest with me as it does not get better than that.
    I first met Dotty when she alighted from a friend’s plane at the Manchester airport and for me it was love at first sight. We had a brief courtship and I remember vividly that Dotty was going to put me to some tests. Within a few days of our meeting she asked me if I could ride and I said sure I can ride. She galloped off and I thanked my stars that I was riding the smaller mount, Fluff, Kristin’s pony. She then took me down to a precarious place called hurricane alley and Dotty asked me if I could jump. I very nervously said yes and and grabbed Fluff by the ears and closed my eyes. Miraculously I made it and that was the beginning of some great times with a magnificent lady. Living in Nairobi I was not able to see her but once but I will always know for Dotty it would be so it go better and better. Jonathan

  20. Wendy says:

    Dearest Kristen,
    Seeing you, your mom, and your family surrounded in love. I know that you will surf the waves of grief as they rise and fall fully and wholly supported. This is a beautiful tribute to your mom and your relationship – how wonderful for you both!
    Much love always,

  21. I knew Dotty from 1st grade on up. She was always a wonderful person – so sweet – so giving – so talented. I can’t believe she is gone – people like her are supposed to live forever. I grieve with you Kristen – wish we could have had her forever on this earth.
    Just know that she was loved by so many people.

    Love, Vicki

  22. Christian Seger says:

    I have known Dotty for 75 years–our parents were close friends-and I vicariously enjoyed every moment of her life. She was brilliant, athletic, gorgeous beyond telling,lived a rich and fascinating life,but was always compassionate. (Dotty was the only female jet pilot I’ve ever known). Twenty-eight years ago we found out we both were in A.A., and that added even more to my feeling of warmth and respect for her. Dotty will be sorely missed by every human she touched, and that includes many, many people.
    Chris Seger – Houston

  23. Ed Wheeler says:

    I may have been the last HS classmate to have seen your Mom. My wife and I visited her and Jerry in Okechobee. She and Jerry had previously stayed at my lake home when they came to Tulsa for our 50th reunion. We simply responded to their gracious invitation to visit them two years ago. Both of them were so very gracious, but that is no surprise because Dotty was only being what she always had been. Your mother was an exceptionally beautiful young girl and later extended that beauty into maturity. It was an honor to have known her and your grandparents. I feel so sorry for Jerry because I lost my first wife, now he has lost his second. We will all see her again, and when I do it will be a moment of joy. Be very proud you were her daughter.

  24. Marcia Rodd says:

    Dear Kristen,

    I’m so sorry we’ve never met but I’ve known your momma since grade school in Tulsa, Okla. I was hoping to see her again in July when we are coming to Florida. My heart aches for you, since I know how very special she was and what a hole her passing will make in your life. I hope you can find some comfort in knowing how much she was loved and admired.

    With deep sympathy,

    Marcia Rodd

    • I do find comfort knowing how much she was loved and hearing about the lives she touched. Thank you for your kind words. I am sorry we haven’t met either – and that you didn’t get to have your July visit.

  25. Clark Sexton says:

    I was so proud at Central High to have Dotty autograph her picture in my Tom Tom.
    “To the President of Showman’s Club,
    God Bless You, Clark”

    We then spoke of the one thing we had in common. As far as we knew, we were the only students at Central who wore contact lenses. Contacts were still pretty new at that time.

    Oh what a bautiful person she was

  26. Emily Gibson says:

    As I read this, I am overcome with tears. I am so sorry. She left behind one strong daughter. Blessings, peace and strength to you.

  27. Cinny Little says:

    Kristin,

    I’d been thinking of your mom – your momma – a lot lately, and I wasn’t sure what that was all about. Now I know. I am so very sorry to hear of her passing – and sorry for your loss. Dotty was a huge positive influence on my life in my teens (starting when I took care of you and Rob for a summer in RI :-) and through my 20s and beyond, and I regularly remember things she taught me and times we had – from when she took me flying when she was learning and practiced “touch and go’s” in a single-engine plane (OMG!) to horseback riding together, to taking trips with you and Rob when you were little, and much more. Love to you and yours.

  28. Laurie Kagan says:

    Kristen,

    I am wiping away tears as I just now read your gut-wrenching ‘Momma Love’ blog and the deep, moving replies of your community. Thank you, sister, for sharing with such raw honesty. One of these days, I will reach out for your hand to steady me when I lose one of my parents. I had once thought I would die of grief when they died and that I was alone in that kind of reaction. Thank you for sharing the depth of your feelings and humanity. We are all our parents’ children . . . truly children in the face of their loss. You are not alone. Look and listen for all the ways that your momma reaches out for you . . . repeatedly. And now how deeply your community loves you as do I.

  29. Ruth J. Armstrong says:

    Dear Kristen,
    I couldn’t believe the article in the paper!

    There are not enough words to describe your mother,Dotty. I hd known her since grade school where we used to play horses under the jungle jim. Later in Highschool we were in the same ART class where she excelled. After she left Tulsa I kept up with her i.e. when she was in Europe printing some of Picassso’s works. After that I only would see her when she came to Tulsa and would catchup on her many exploits i.e. buying the biplane and flying it back to Florida by way of fooling the railroad tracks. My image of her will always be that of the RED BARON with red scarf flowing behind.

    Dotty’s beautiful kind eyes always gave you such a warm feeling!

    Having lost my daughter several years ago and my younger sister last year,I understand your loss and I talk to the clouds and stars often. Your article MOMMS LOve is wonderful!

    • Thank you Ruth! I love hearing the memories of mom. Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry to hear about your losses. I will think of you when I talk to the clouds and stars too. Sending big hugs.

  30. Guy says:

    I just wanted to express that after loosing my mom in Jan 2016, reading this was the most difficult read since. There is some realization in this for me, as well as finding my self nodding in agreement. I’d like to think that I’m strong and as an artist I feel I express my emotions freely but my moms passing was devastating. Thanks for writing Kisten.. and I ordered your latest book. Thanks a bunch!

Leave a Reply