On Saturday afternoon I went to talk with mom. She is buried in an area that overlooks fields for farming and some small valleys that southwest Kansas permit. It was nice and peaceful.

There will never really be a way to thank everyone for their support the past week. It was the strangest of my life, but I spent it with people I haven't seen in a long while and missing my mom was a little easier because of that.

Thank you notes have been sent and food packaged up. My dad is going back to work. Ginger had her Kansas birthday party. Mom had her tailgate party. The funeral was unspeakably everything we wanted. Many have asked me about a reading and a song we shared at the service, and I wanted to do the same for all of you that may have missed this special time when we celebrated mom.

My brother and I spent the Sunday afternoon after mom died in his car listening to song after song, hunting and confirming the perfect one. We'd already inadvertently picked it out weeks earlier, as we sat in the front living room while my mother slept and recovered from a recent hospital visit. We drew from it that day, not knowing we'd want it so soon. But we had to be sure there wasn't something better.

There wasn't.

We chose "Rivers and Roads" by a band from Seattle called The Head and the Heart because it tells a story about being forever in transit, always missing a person you love, traveling as far as you must to be by their side. It echoed the way our family operates, not just during my mother's illness but within our entire life frames. My mother was a good mother because she was brave enough to let us be who we are, and that meant a long-distance relationship that must have been hard for her. My daughter sang along to the tune while it played in the church.

At 7 am the morning of mom's funeral I received an email from my friend and poet Shafer Hall. He and I were fast friends in NYC and he shared many good times with my mom. I was so touched to receive his epistolary poem for her that I sat in the last church pew and wept for a long while, barely able to read my phone as I read his words. I hunted Thayne down and handed him the phone. After reading the poem, he insisted that it be read aloud during the service. I agreed. So he did. Here it is for you:

Dear Wildcat,

We are thinking of you today,
And of the soul you bring
To our wide and sprawling team. 
You make us a confident team,

A happy team, and thanks to you, 
We are more of a team; more
even than a team. Here is
your laughter, here your comfort, 
but mostly you give us
our place to BE: our team 
Is family, our team is friends,
And with you, we can see this game
through each and every end.

-- Shafer Hall, March 20, 2014


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