Letting Go

I stood at my mother’s kitchen door and watched the large moving truck painted with ivory keys and musical notes back into her driveway. As the truck reversed, the gears grinded and an annoying beeping noise echoed through the crisp winter air. I leaned my forehead against the door and, without warning, tears suddenly blinded my eyes and raced down my cheeks.

I rushed to the bathroom down the hall, dark from lack of electricity. I examined my tired, puffy eyes in the dim mirror and erased the dampness from my face with the sleeve of my coat. I sighed in frustration. I was so exhausted at the sobbing, the snotty nose, the sadness. I was tired of breaking down over simple things like a piano truck backing into a driveway.

When I returned to the kitchen door, two men were approaching me. The heavyset one carried a bag of tools and packing blankets. The older man behind him pushed a dolly. We exchanged routine pleasantries, and I showed them to the baby grand in my mother’s otherwise empty living room. Without saying a word to each other, or to me, the two men began doing their part to disassemble the massive instrument.

wpid-fb_img_1452317673822.jpgI stood silently in the corner, in a daze as these strange men quickly turned the Ivers and Pond piano onto it’s side and the strings echoed beneath the lid. They worked quickly and accurately, removing the legs from the piano and loading it onto the dolly. They did this all day, every day; move pianos. That’s what these two men did. To them, this piano was no different than the hundreds they had moved before.

But this wasn’t just some piano. This was my mother’s piano. Some of the most beautiful melodies ever created had reverberated off those strings. I’d spent my entire life watching my mother’s fingers move effortlessly up and down the keys, the faint sound of her long fingernails clacking against a minor chord. She’d banged the hell out of it when playing the blues and gracefully skimmed the keyboard when playing the Chopin nocturnes. This wasn’t just any piano. This was my mother’s piano.

Within minutes, the men were done. They rolled the piano down the driveway and loaded it into the truck. The older man secured it with bungee straps and packing blankets while the hefty guy shut the sliding door on the back of the truck. He told me to have a good day, and they were soon out of the driveway and out of sight.

That was it. In only twenty minutes, two strangers had removed the last (and most important) piece of furniture from my mother’s home.

Shivering from the cold, I walked inside and stood in the middle of the empty living room. The silence engulfed me. No piano playing, no bacon frying, no TV blasting, no ceiling fan slicing through the air.

No sound.

No life.

I looked into the bare dining room, a lone dust bunny clinging to a baseboard. I remembered our last holiday meal at her beautifully set table. I’d laughed so hard that afternoon that I had to leap from my dining chair and rush to the kitchen to spit a mouthful of tea into the sink before I choked.

Down the hall was the room she’d decorated just for my daughter- my little girl’s home away from home. The white iron bed was gone, as were the blue and yellow gingham curtains and the board games she kept in the corner for her grandchildren. My eyes then focused on the kitchen where cakes had been baked and I’d stood at the counter eating a tuna fish sandwich while my mama complained about the government.

To the left was my mother’s bedroom, housing nothing but a wadded up Kleenex in the corner. The beautiful bedroom suite was gone, as was the comfortable plush mattress that had always welcomed me when no other place in the world did. That’s where my lovely, lively mother took her last breath, peacefully as she slept one warm Saturday night in September.

I looked to the empty space in front of the living room window, where the piano had always rested- marks embedded in the carpet from the heavy instrument. I fell hard to my knees and then slid the rest of my body down to the floor. I buried my face into the sea of beige, and the silence was quickly replaced by an eruption of grief.

I’ve shed buckets upon buckets of tears since my mother died three months ago. Scarce drops when I glance at her photo on my foyer table, streams when I reach for the phone to call her, sobs when I want so desperately to feel her holding me close and running her fingers through my hair. But only a few times have I bellowed like a heifer giving birth- moaning in despair and feeling as if my eyes are going to catch fire despite all of the moisture consuming them.

When I learned she died, I did this. When we put her in the ground, I did this. When I sprawled my long body across her empty living room floor, I did this.

I was soon exhausted from screaming like a toddler in the toy aisle at Target, and I tried to catch my breath. I remained frozen on the floor, my face resting in damp carpet and my arms stretched across the room. I began talking to her as if she were right there beside me. I made apologies and accepted them. I told her things I should have told her when she was riding in the passenger seat of my car. I imagined she told me that this brick and mortar couldn’t compare to where she was now. I imagined she told me it was time to let go.

I rubbed my arms across the carpet and prepared to stand, and I noticed the long strand of hair clinging to my thumb. Without a doubt, it was my mother’s hair, which had probably been shed as she sat on the piano bench and played a difficult classical piece by ear. Long and blonde with a hint of that curl she’d always abhorred. It was my mother’s hair, and it had somehow been missed by the vacuum, by the hundreds of footsteps that had tread that very spot taking things from her home, by the piano movers. That delicate hair had firmly stuck to the carpet for months, and it found it’s way to my hand.

I secured it in a small bag in my purse and walked through the house one last time, recalling blessed memories, laughs, hugs and tears that had been shed there. Before I walked out the front door for the last time, I called out, “Bye, Mama. Love you.”

That’s what I always called out before I left.

The tears began to fall again as I walked to my car parked on the street. I quickly climbed in, my bones aching at the cold. I turned the ignition and threw it into drive, but I couldn’t press the gas pedal. I could only stare at my mother’s home, looking so empty and abandoned. Only months ago, the front flower beds, now overrun with dead vines and brown grass and unruly bushes, were gorgeous and well-manicured, overflowing with Begonias and Clematis and Hosta. The front door looked foreign without one of her amazing homemade wreaths adorning it. The window blinds were closed, a pile of leaves on the front porch, an open mailbox with no letters inside. wpid-screenshot_2016-01-08-23-33-52-1.png

No noise.

No life.

I’d done enough crying in the living room floor, but grief didn’t care. Another wave pelted me without warning, and I was banging my gloved hands against the steering wheel, wishing my mother were still alive, wishing her flower beds were still alive, wishing I’d be back at this address in a day or two for a chat and piece of Mississippi Mud Cake.

Battered and broken and exhausted by the day’s events, I finally pressed the gas pedal. I watched the home in my rear-view mirror until I reached the stop sign. When I turned right, my mother’s house was no longer in sight.

It was no longer hers.

It was no longer mine.

It was gone.


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About Susannah

I'm a freelance writer, blogger, aspiring best-selling author, wife of one and stay-at-home mother of two. I was chosen for the Top 13 in Blogger Idol and contribute pieces to The Huffington Post and Hahas for Hoohas. My work has also been featured in several humorous e-books, "Southern Writers’ Magazine", "The Humor Daily", "The Funny Times" and on the Erma Bombeck website. When I'm not putting pen to paper, bandaging boo-boos or spraying Shout on unidentifiable stains, I enjoy reading, playing the piano and teaching my children all about Southern charm. God has blessed me beyond measure and to Him be the glory forever.

20 thoughts on “Letting Go

  • Gloria Escue

    Sweet Susannah, Peace will eventually come to you; I promise. Nothing has ever been as difficult to me as losing my Mama. So many of us have walked in your shoes and understand that heartache… I continue to pray for you and always love to read your blog. She was there today and left her stand of beautiful blond hair for you to find.. She is with you always… God Bless you. ~ Glo

  • Amy

    Oh Susannah,

    I AM crying for you! And don’t go telling me “oh don’chu cry for me”, neither! (Sorry ~ I always go with humor in sad or awkward situations. I like smiles on people’s faces. And yours is a beautiful smile. 💛)

    I, myself recently passed the hump of the 6th anniversary of my mother’s passing on 12/29. I just read your piece. As I read line by line, I re-lived my steps when I did the exact same thing at my mother’s place. We dug up some of the bulbs of flowers and her rose bushes and replanted them in our yards.. I can tell you this; the ache dulls, but the waves of grief will continue, I assume all our lives. But take comfort in knowing she’s with you. She lets you know she’s with you by things like that one, semi wavy, long, blonde strand of hair making its way into your hand. She did that, and she’s with you always.

    Love your writing. Keep sharing yourself with us.

    Much Love from Ohio,
    Amy Conrad

  • Sally

    Wednesday will be the one year anniversary of losing my mom. Not a day has passed that I don’t miss her. The pangs get shorter but are still there. Time takes its own sweet time.

  • Margie Marchione Miller

    I don’t quite know how to compliment you on your writing of this tragic event, except (accept?) to say, that I have felt like I was there with you every step of the way…? I have felt this same tragic experience for the last 13 years with the passing of my husband’s mother, whom I adored! He has every month since her death reminded me to “call your parents!” I am number 4 out of 5 children and I am 50 years old now…50 years old!!! I don’t see myself as close to my mother (there are 3 other sisters, fyi) as you were to yours, however, I am the only daughter that has had 2 daughters and a son of my own. All three of my sisters have all had sons. And I can tell you, as great as my sisters are, nobody gets me or my family situations as much as my Momma gets me! When my sisters come at me with, “you need to do this, or, you need to do that…,” my mother will shut their flippen pie holes down cause she recognizes…they have no clue what our life is like! Your sharing has made me realize how much a mother has made a huge impact on her chid’s heart! I can only hope that I have done even a hint of that work in my own children’s eyes/heart! And that I need to let my Momma know how much she means to me, as a daughter and a mother!

  • Author Amy McGuire

    Dear Susannah, my heart aches for you in this difficult time. At the same time, I am in awe of the raw emotions you have both captured and shared. You have pulled us into your grief, loss and letting go. Maybe one day, when the pain is a little less raw, you can look back over these words and see how powerful they are. And when you can, I hope you see that this is the makings of a best selling author. Not these words exactly, as I don’t think anyone would ever expect you to use your grief in such a way, but something similar. This is so amazing. You are a truly gifted writer. I pray that our wonderful God that heals all wounds, will help you through this truly difficult time and help you to be comforted by every thought of your dear mother. And please, if you ever need to talk, I am only a Facebook message away.

  • Miss Bloggypants

    This, Susannah, is beautiful. I read it as if I were watching a screenplay. And I felt it.
    I know it was written from a place of immense grief, but… it is beautiful Beautifully written, that is.
    Hugs. Prayers.

  • Jessica Griffith

    I just lost my mother on April 11 2016, he was 53, she was killed in a motorcycle accident. An 18 yr old girl pulled out in front of her with in 6 ft, she only had her license about a week. My mother had no time to stop, she was alive after the accident happen, life light was called but before she could make the half of mile to mile to the helicopter she went into cardiac arrest. I was the first of my family to be notified to come to the hospital, i already knew she was in an accident, and my heart knew she had already passed away. I hated her motorcycle and always told her that but i also knew it was something she loved, she did all kinds of charity rides for sick kids and the poker runs for Christmas presents for kids who didn’t get much, i was angry at the fact she was always riding and she didn’t slow down to have a day for family to come visit and chill. But anuways i was the firat to know that it was true that she had really passed, i was the first to go in and rub her head after she passed and kissed her on her cold for head. I held her hand and asked hee why? Why did she have to leave us? When her funeral was finally arranged after all family had came from the out of town and paid there respects, i saw how much she was loved for all the heartful things she did, so many peole showed up and talked about how much she talked about us kids (4 of us) plus my step dad who we call dadn they have bee. Together for 15 years and finally tied the knot on march 12th 2016, the next after her accident was her 1 month anniversary. We are all crazy with questions, and sorrow and haven’t really been able to grieve because we are in the process of moving and was busy showing our house and getting things ready, we are still in the process of moving and my sister just had her baby, on her birthday May 25th 2016, so we both have been busy with life. Its definitely been ruff. But just found your video about your mother and how you were doing by 10 months in the grieving process. I see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am still in shock and still can’t believe my mom is gone just like that, it feels as if she is just on vacation and and will walk in soon.

  • Arlene Foster

    This was so sweet and so heartbreaking. I lost my father not so long ago and I still catch myself crying buckets and I can physically feel the loss in my heart. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing. It amazes me that you were able to write this. I have a blog. It’s wordsofasouthernlady.blogspot.com and like you I write with humor but since I lost my Dad I have been unable to write. I’m trying but it’s just been so hard. I feel a bit broken. Maybe I need to just share like you’ve done here. Hugs and prayers to you, and thank you again.

    P.S. You are an amazing “Humorist”

    • Susannah Post author

      Arlene, I just adore this. Thank you so much. I will find your blog. Write what you know. It’ll be more healing than you can imagine. God bless.

  • April Littlefield

    Beautiful. Effortless. Emotional. I’m a southerner and as little girls we are raised to be strong. To keep our hair fixed and makeup touched up and to never show too much emotion. I’m sure you were raised in such a manor , by your strong and beautiful mother as well. Us women have to keep thinks afloat. We dry tears not release them. We help, others with grief instead of showing it. It’s hard for us to come to terms with our pain.

    But even us southern ladies need to “steel magnolia” our hurt.

    I’m blessed not to know this pain, but your words made me feel like I was in that quiet house with you. Your words are your peace. Thank you for sharing with us your soul, your heart and your love.
    April Littlefield

  • verystefvery

    I’m sobbing with you right now. And that even though I can’t even imagine. I dread the day I will ever have to deal with this and hope it’s a far way away – and that even though I’m 40. I think we’ll always be our Mama’s and Papa’s kids.
    Big hugs to you and I hope you find that bit of space where you can smile through the tears and remember sitting at that piano with your mum when you were little. xxx

  • verystefvery

    I’m sobbing with you. And I can’t even imagine being in this situation. I know that it will be one of the hardest thing I will have to deal with one day and i hope it’ll be a longtime before that’s the case. I think we never stop being our Mama’s and Papa’s kids.
    Sending you big hugs and hoping you find the space to smile through the tears and remember those times where you were sitting next to your mum at that piano. xx

  • Lorraine

    Just read your posts. So much laughter but the one just now on ” Letting Go” so touched me. My precious fun loving God fearing dad died 5 years ago. I’ve decided there is no expiration date with grief. I find a great place to cry is in the shower. My mom has severe dementia and after 5 years I finally couldn’t take care if German at home…..another reason to cry in the shower. So thank you for your honesty and sharing what I know that my dad is with Jesus and some day we all will be together again. God bless you

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