Every once in a while grief jumps out at you and catches you by surprise. My Aunt Karen and I were at Braden's school for the annual Grandparents Day. We were sitting in the auditorium watching the elementary and Preschool classes sing about Arkansas. After the hour long program the president of the school got on the mic and thanked us all for our support and for coming out to watch the kids. Then he turned and introduced the music teacher that had organized the whole performance. The woman was seated with her back to us, at a giant electric keyboard. She got up and did a half turn and waved at us, then sat back down.
In that moment tears began to well up and I started to cry. In that moment I saw my mother. Who for years I watched sit behind a piano and direct students on stage. And in that split second of those memories flashing in my head my heart poured out anguish that she was gone. She doesn't know Braden or Tristan or Mason.... She has missed it all, and I have missed sharing it with her. I silently cried with my Aunt's arm around me. Her love just made me feel that much worse. I felt guilty that she had to bear this burden. It wasn't her job to take me on... but she did, and she has loved me like a mother, and treated me like a daughter for 20 years. Most of the time her presence and love is a comfort, but in that moment it was just a reminder of how much I had lost.