Tuesday, October 14, 2008


5 Years ago today:

I was 26 years old; I was sitting on my couch holding my sleeping baby:
he was 20 days old; and not due until tomorrow.

My mom died, she was 58 years old.

This post is mostly for therapy. I have three main focuses: my grief, my mom, and some complaining.

Grief is such a personal experience for the individual it belongs to, and this one is mine.
Just because today is the anniversary of the single most surreal experience of my life doesn’t make the wound anymore raw, I don’t miss her more today than I did yesterday or will in 42 days, next spring, or in 10 years. I miss her everyday, and mourn everyday. My heart nerve endings hurt, they’ve been cut with a butterknife, still, 1,826 days later.
One of the must hurtful, and honestly unintelligent questions or statements anyone could say to me regarding my sadness would be:
‘Aren’t you so grateful for the atonement (insert: eternal families, or any other church doctrine)?’, or ‘You’ll get to see her again after the resurrection!’
Well: ‘Duh!’ I am grateful for the atonement, and I do know I will get to see her again someday. But I want to see her today. I’m not good at waiting.

Part of my defense mechanism has been to forget specifics, I’m working on that, and these are things that are vital for me to not forget:

I love my mom.

People my mom loves:
The Savior
My Dad





My mom is fun and funny.
She is sunny, except for right upon waking. She used to sing a song (she didn’t remember all of the words) ‘Oh how I hate to get up in the morning! Oh, how I’d love to remain in bed! Someday I’m going to murder that bugler; someday they’re going to find him dead!’ She believes those words 100%. I remember on Sundays she would say she was going to go take a nap, and I would beg her not to, because she would wake up so cranky.
One time my sister Emily and I were playing “Don’t wake the dragon”, the gist of this game was to see how close we could get to the ‘dragons’ face without waking her (mom is the dragon). She was sleeping in our red high-backed chair in the front room and snoring (hence: the dragon), man-o-man could she snore! So Emily and I very stealthy, quietly approached said beast, creeping, trying hard not to giggle (I was about 4, Emily about 6), got inches from her nose, and ‘ZZZZZ’ out came the dragons fire (a long, loud snore), we screamed, mom jumped out of the chair, and we ran away laughing hysterically, I don’t believe mom found nearly as much joy in this game as we did.
Ironically, her hatred of waking didn’t stop the Stake President from calling her to teach early morning seminary, she loves that calling.
Mom loves to:
Feel the wind.
Travel with my dad.
Watch fireworks.
Sing. For years she served as the sacrament meeting chorister. She would stand up on the stand grinning from ear to ear, trying to catch as many peoples gaze as possible and make them smile back. She believes that singing to the Lord should be a joyous occasion and couldn’t stand to see people with the hymn book stuck in front of their faces, with a dour look on their face. She would even stop the music and reprimand the crowd for not gladly singing.
She loves her grandbabies. One of my sweetest memories was going to her house after E was born; she was lying on the couch, very sick and asked to hold him. She held him up by her shoulder and gave him kisses. I didn’t get a picture.
She loves her friends and has an amazing way of making everyone feel like they are her favorite. Everyone is important to mom. I admire this talent hugely.
Mom loves to read, particularly the scriptures. Every morning I could be sure that when I walked down the stairs she would have them out.
May dad worked nights for most of my growing up years. She would have us ‘little’ kids climb into her bed just before bedtime and read to us. I remember specifically: Tom Sawyer, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and Manx Mouse.
She can sew anything, paint anything, and cross-stitch anything.
She loves: Chocolate, Watermelon, and Tacos. She also loves Imperial Margarine. The first time A ever went to my parents house while we were dating, he opened the freezer and there were 16 pounds of Imperial Margarine. As disgusting as it sounds she put it on everything. She also made us a treat (that now that I know better I gag just a little thinking about it) it was Cheerios cereal with melted butter and salt, kind of like popcorn.
She loves Christmas. She always decorated our house for every holiday, and I do mean every holiday.
My mom can talk to me like no one else can, she can be silly with me, but is amazing at talking sense to me when no one else’s ‘sense’ makes sense. I can still hear her say when I’m being particularly irrational ‘Now, Alicia…’
When she found something she’s just learned especially interesting she would make the ‘huh’ sound, but not say it, more of a sound, and nod her head, but this nod is more of a whole torso nod. I mock myself when I catch myself doing the exact same thing.
For most of my teenage and adult years when we asked mom what she wanted for her birthday or Christmas she always, without fail said, 'Righteous Children.' I always thought that was the biggest cop out. Now that I am a mother I know it wasn't. That is the thing she wants most. And I can say, at least for 1/6 of that equation that we're trying our hardest.

I’ve learned why so many people have a tendency to canonize people after they die even if they were the most rotten person they ever knew. My mom is a good person, but she wasn’t perfect, but I’m choosing to remember the good.

I know without a doubt that it was not a coincidence that E was born exactly three weeks early, his due date being the day after she died. I got to see her hold him 3 times. This truly is the most tender mercy the Lord has ever shown me.

More than anything I remember that my mom knows the Savior lives, she loves Him, and followed Him exactly as she was asked: I can echo the sentiments of Helaman’s 2,000: I do not doubt my mother knew it.

Here is my complaint:
I can not be happy about this trial. Sure, I have learned so much from it. I am a different mother than I would have been had she been here to walk me through it. I am closer to my husband, whom I rely on for my emotional support, than I was when she was on earth. I have learned to transmit my longing to see my mother into a longing to see the Savior after His return; my focus is no longer on her, but on Him. And I am grateful that I have such a wonderful angel with me (Elder Holland's talk in conference was specifically for me).

If you are lucky enough to know my mom, please post a comment about her, I want to know your memories too.

I have heard time and time again that the Lord never gives us trials that we can’t get through, so I know I can do this. I just wish I couldn’t.


Amberly said...

alicia, I can feel your heart hurting today and I know we both wish it would go away, but just as you choose to focus on the good things about your mother, I admire that you can see the good things you have learned since she left you for a short while. you have many of the desirable qualities you described in your mother and I can tell she is a fantastic person.

Alicia said...

This is from my brother Jeff:

The day mom passed away, I told my little girl Jodi that her Grandma had died. Jodi was recently baptized, and Grandma had been too sick to see it. I can still hear Jodi cry, "No No No. Not Grandma." Nothing has ever hurt as much as seeing her grief, not even my own sorrow. Like Alicia said, Mom always made people feel special, but in the case of her grandkids, I believe she really did love them more than any of us.
For a long time, I was angry with God, and stupidly enough, I petulantly refused to pray to him. I was not going to speak to someone who had ripped me off.
After a while, I softened, and started to pray for confirmation that Mom really is alive. Eternal life has always been theoretical or academic for me, and not really a part of my testimony. Initially I prayed because I was hurt, and also I was jealous of my siblings' stories about having dreams about her. Later, I softened more, and prayed for peace.
It a took a while, but all my prayers were answered. On August 26, 2005. When Bella was born (she was the first of the twins), as I held her in my arms, I heard a clear voice behind me say to her, "You're here." Recognizing Mom's voice, I automatically spun around to show her her new grand-daughter. Of course, I did not see her, but she was there. Since that time, I have no doubt that she lives, and that we will all see her and Grandpa some day.

Mal, Josh, Payton said...

My aunt Shanna was an amazing woman. I remember many things about. I think the few things that come to my mind right now. Was she was the one that taught me how to paint. She loved to paint little/big things. I can remember thinking how cool here house was when it was always decorated for the holidays. My new thing I started shortly after she passed away was i took on her cross stitching quilt of the united states. I kind of new what I was doing, but wasn't really sure. I still haven't finished an it's been 5 years but i hope to some day have it finished in her honor.
One more thing that my family and I always say about Shanna is that she would always say the best thing to have when you have a soar throat is to eat cheetos. that always comes up in my family and it just makes us smile. She was a funny Aunt. I sure do miss her and I know all my siblings feel the same way. Thanks Alicia for putting this post up, I really enjoyed it.

Alicia said...

On Friday, October 3rd, 2003, Russ and I and Sarah and Scott were driving to St. George to watch Rachael run in her 1st marathon. I distinctly remember being south of Nephi, in Juab County, talking about Shanna and how she was doing. It suddenly became clear to me that we must go to Carson City to see her and as soon as possible. I think Grandma might have called us from there while we were in the car and that's why we were talking about it.

So from our car, we called Delta to make the arrangements. Sarah was insistent that she go with us; I believe that she felt that way b/c Shanna made her feel important, just as has been said. So we made airline arrangements to bring her with us.

I distinctly remember flying over Nevada on our way the following weekend. We had no idea that, by some miraculous intervention, all of us, or at least most of us, would be there that weekend.

B/c Shanna loved nothing more than all of us being together, I know that she was happy that we could all be there, even though that awareness was not perceptible at the time. To be in her home, with you, and Grandma and Grandpa, to hear the blessing she was given, to participate in family prayer, to see exactly how much she needed to be relieved of her condition, all of this was such a wonderful and painful experience.

As far as praying to HF goes, I believe that he has huge shoulders and can carry all that sadness and anger and disappointment and missed opportunities and wishes and hopes and unfulfilled dreams and worries and joys and all that we experience. My personal experience with him is that he will carry it, patiently and willingly, until we can carry it ourselves, knowing that we can trust him implicitly and explicitly in all of what goes on in life. WHOA!! How did he get to be that way?? I have no idea and I ask him about it. More importantly, I tell him I want to be like him.
This is from my Aunt Eileen:

It is still difficult to understand why we had to lose Shanna, if we had to, or why. But what is clear to me is that she is with HF and Grandpa and Great-Grandma Crane and that she wants us to join her there, happy that we had faith in HF. I want to be there with her, not soon, but someday.

Alicia said...

This is from my friend Michelle:

I just got done reading your blog entry about your mom. After tears and laughter (regarding the dragon story) I thought I would just say thanks for sharing. I loved your mom, she had this light about her that came from her love of the gospel.

rcambra2004 said...

Thank you for posting this - you write so eloquently and I can echo your feelings. Your mom is my best friend and I miss her with all my heart. I know she is so proud of her "righteous children." Love you - Ruth

April said...

Shanna also had an intoxicating, contagious laugh, one of my favorite memories of her.

The Hale Fam said...

Alicia- Thank you for reminding me how fragile life is. I get restless, bored, thinking life will never change, and then when it does... I'm left to cry and long for things to be the way they were. I need constant reminders to live in the moment. I feel selfish for using your post for my own personal benefit. But to you, thank you for sharing. It has changed me and now I just need to figure out how to hold on to these feelings rather than sleep them away and awake in the morning longing again for a clean house and quiet kids. Once again, you have helped me focus on eternity. Thank you.

Colin -N- Lori said...

Alicia, I never had the pleasure of meeting your mom here on the earth but she sounds wonderful. She brought you to this world and therefore we are friends and I am blessed because of her. I was thinking of how it will be when you see her on the other side of the veil and I am crying. You are a wonderful friend and woman, stronger than you know. I love you!