I just recently started eating popcorn again. The smell, the sound, everything about it made me fall apart because all I could do was picture Eliza and a big bowl of popcorn sitting in her lap. So I have spent the last 3 1/2 years with a self imposed ban on popcorn.
A few weeks after Eliza passed away I remember looking under the couch for something and seeing hundreds of popcorn kernels that she had left, I couldn’t bear to vacuum them up. They were these little reminders that she was here. Even my nephews who LOVE popcorn wouldn’t eat it in front of me because they knew it would make me miss Eliza a little bit more.
And then one day a few weeks ago, without even thinking I put a bag in the microwave and I ate it, and I cried. It’s always little things that threaten to break me, things that in ordinary life don’t mean anything, but in a life of loss they mean everything.
Recently I was recognized at a huge women’s conference for The Eliza Hope Foundations work in the community. It was such a huge honor to have Eliza’s story shared with hundreds of women. Afterwards a mom walked over to me to introduce herself. She is the sister of someone I went to church with so I knew who she was but had never met her. Her family lives in Maryland and she has a four year old little girl. Harper has autism so she could completely relate to our story. I loved her as soon as we met. We spent the five minutes together encouraging each other and sharing little bits of our lives. When I got home that night I couldn’t stop thinking about her and her little girl so I sent a message and asked if she could meet for coffee after the first session of the women’s conference the next day. She said yes.
We talked that morning about everything. About Eliza’s diagnosis, about losing her and about how I have made it through, I told her about Eliza’s love of popcorn and she laughed because Harpers love of popcorn is strong too! She shared that her days can be difficult and how friends have come and gone. She shared the beautiful things about her little girl and the really hard things. I understood it all. I told her that somedays I wish I could go back and do things differently. How somedays I wish I would have let her eat as many bowls of popcorn as she wanted. I told her to try hard not to sweat the small stuff, that time will pass and one more bowl of popcorn won’t mean anything.
That’s the thing about looking back, you can see so clearly the things that didn’t matter. You can see all the times that you worried if you were doing everything right just to find out that even if you weren’t it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway. Meeting Harpers mama, listening to her experience and how closely it resembled mine was such a gift. I walked away with a little more grace for myself and it reminded me that everything I did for Eliza was done with so much love that I should never question if I did it right.
So my ban on popcorn is over. Eating it didn’t change anything. It didn’t bring Eliza back, I didn’t feel better or worse. Everything remained the same.
Everyday I try to remind myself that life is so short, that in the blink of an eye it will be over and none of these earthly things will even matter… so do the hard things, share hope, love well, be nice and…
Let Them Eat Popcorn
“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14