Roller Coaster

Four days from now, over 125 people will gather in my mom’s memory. It will be the first time since her funeral that we will gather to celebrate her wonderful life. I know it’s going to be an emotional roller coaster.

roller coaster (n.) 1. a small gravity railroad, especially in an amusement park, having a train with open cars that moves along a high, sharply winding trestle built with steep inclines that produce sudden, speedy plunges for thrill- seeking passengers. 2. any phenomenon, period, or experience of persistent or violent ups and downs, as one fluctuating between prosperity and recession or elation and despair.

As I wait here on line for this upcoming roller coaster ride, I reflect on memories of riding them with my mom and imagine the conversation I would have with her.

I remember my first roller coaster ride. It was a baby roller coaster – the Super Himalayan on the boardwalk. My mom, Shannon, and I were the only ones who wanted to ride. A picture was taken of us before the ride began. My mom looks ecstatic. She loved roller coasters. Shannon is smiling, I’d say she was excited. Me? My uncertainty and fear is apparent. I remember that feeling. Being totally unsure of what to expect. How fast would it go? Would I fall out? How long would it last? The questions raced through my head and then the ride slowly started…

As it picked up speed, Mom began to scream! She was so excited, but she was screaming? Then, that crazy woman let go of the bar holding us in!! Her hands were flailing around in the air as she screamed and laughed all around the bumpity track. I think I started to enjoy it, I think I followed my mom’s lead, I think Shannon enjoyed it more than me that time around.

I’m not so sure what parts of this memory are truly true, but I know what I felt and I know she was excited, and that’s where I find comfort.

My mom and I rode many roller coasters together. Shannon, too. We went to Six Flags, and Disney, and the boardwalk. Mom would always ride with us. But this also came to a slow down during the “aneurysm years.” Something about having brain surgery made her nervous to go on a coaster. Just goes to show we can’t always control the loops our lives bring us to, but we can control how we handle the ride.

My mom and I love acronyms. I’m sure you can think of one she shared with you. There’s two for “FEAR” that she shared with me:

“FEAR” can stand for “forget everything and run” or “face everything and rise.”

I choose to face everything and rise for this next ride. I’m going to let the emotions I feel come as they will. I will cry, I will laugh, I will love, and I will enjoy every moment.

I’ve been trying to do this more in my life. In fact, the other day, my Dad gave me a $50 gift card to Lava Java and I cried. This is never used to happen before, but I’m trying to let go of the emotions so I can fully live and love. (And I fully love Lava Java.)

As I sit here in Lava Java blogging for the first time in a few weeks, my angel sends a sign: the song currently playing beckons, don’t be afraid to cry… I’ll stand by you.

So from me silently crying into my coffee at Lava Java, to you on the other side of the screen: I’ll stand by you, if you stand by me. While blogging is healing, I have found greater healing in a good cry, and an even greater healing in sharing that good cry with loved ones.

When you finally board the coaster, remember to “Buckle up for safety; buckle up!” 

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