I had many interesting experiences this past weekend. One of those happened early Sunday morning and it has left me contemplating. I drove to my parent's so that we could all enjoy conference together. I winded my way through the canyon enjoying the rain as it pounded down around me, not really thinking about much. I felt peace and a sense of renewal. My mind wandered to planning out what my day would be - we would enjoy breakfast, listen to conference, play with Samuel and Mason - - - and then I was slammed by the thought, "If the rain clears up maybe I can walk the boys over and we can say hi to Norma." I had forgotten.
It has been almost a year since Norma passed away on a clear and crisp October morning. I haven't been able to talk about her or write about her. Even now, as I type these words, my eyes fill with tears and emotions seem too close to the surface. Norma meant many things to those who knew her but I have always felt that we shared something special. She lived next door for most of my childhood and most everything that we did included her - dinners, holidays, birthdays. Birthdays were something special. Every year for as long as I can remember she and I would pick a day that was to be mine. We went shopping for clothes, saw a movie and went out to eat. It seemed that she would spare no expense and I loved our time together. She was loving and kind but could also get after us kids if need be. Even in those moments of discipline, the perceived harshness came out of the great love that she had for us.
Time changes things and as I grew older our relationship changed. Norma got sick. It was a scary time in her life and more than anything it was sad to watch her lose the independencethat had always been so fiercely hers. For all the care that she had always shown our family it was now our turn. I had just graduated high school and was only taking two classes that fall semester. I hadn't found a job and frankly, felt lost. I had the time and so I had the opportunity to take Norma to all the places she needed to go. We went to multiple doctor's appointments every week, grocery shopping and sometimes to lunch if she just wanted to get out of the house. She told me of her life and the wonderful places she had seen, she comforted me when I would share of my fears or heartaches, we talked about the gospel and she expressed a desire to be close to God again. Those were cherished times. I had become an adult in her eyes - more than her niece, we were friends.
All of these thoughts and many more came rushing to my mind as I realized once again that she was gone. It's interesting how these moments can overtake us and once again it is fresh and real. I read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis many years ago and I remember something that particularly struck me, he said, "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." I agree with that. Last year it felt so much like fear that I ran from it and in many ways have continued running. I stopped on Sunday. I have let myself think about her and the good and the bad that we shared. I am so grateful for her and the huge role that she played in my life. Youth brings foolishness and I am ashamed to say that there were times when I would say that I was afraid that because my parents named me after her that my life would parallel hers in the fact that I would go through life without marrying. What a fool. I am filled with guilt and sorrow about that thought and attitude for I know that Norma was so much more than just one life experience. I only now wish to do as much as Norma did for others and hopefully I can live up to the name that I am blessed to share. I have much work to do if I hope to be as she was. I have hope that she will forgive me of my foolishness and that we will one day have the chance to be together again. I love you Norma.