I Heard Her Voice and Other Mid-Life Crisis Induced Randomness

So, I started looking through the pictures. The first box was a blend of my own high school pictures and Timothy’s baby pictures. The two events…his beautiful beginning and the ending of that era in my life, are blended together. It’s impossible to separate them, in the tempest of emotions. And, unfortunately for the few still reading here, words are my therapy. Prayer…and words on a page.

My facebook wall is now covered with pictures from almost twenty years ago. I believe it’s official. Some sort of mid-life crisis has ensued and it’s now evident publicly. Don’t worry…it’s a Kelly-style mid-life crisis. Hopefully the worst that will happen is some heavy doses of nostalgia, some laughing with old friends over shenanigans from years ago, and a facebook wall full of ¬†pictures from the big-haired glory days of the 90s. I won’t lie, I miss my young-pre-pregnancy hair. It was fabulous. Although our 10 year old, James said it was actually fuzzy, not fabulous. Oh well…beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

I found this beauty among the pictures. My mother and I: young, carefree, happy. No cancer. Life still ahead, full of possibility. On a good day, she and I were unstoppable.

This week, my son’s high school performed Bye, Bye Birdie…the play in which I performed the lead role during my senior year…nineteen years ago. I haven’t been to a musical in 19 years, but our “adopted by friendship” son, Ian, has a way of talking me into things. I went. Nostalgia flooded my senses as I watched the beautiful young lady play the role of Spanish Rose.

After the play, I was telling Timothy and Hannah about the differences in the play when we performed it years ago. We were looking at old pictures and watching some of my old musical performances on VHS. I loved playing a part on the stage. It has been so long. But, in those days, it was the only time I felt free and at home in my skin…ironically while not being me. Playing the part of someone else gave me confidence to sing with abandon. I threw myself into every role. It was the only time I wasn’t plagued with stage fright. Well, then, and when I sang in church. No coincidence there, I’m sure.

We came across a video labeled Homecoming 1992. I don’t know if I’ve ever watched it before, but I wasn’t prepared at all for what was on the tape. It opened with a cheerleader fixing a sign with my name on it to a red convertible. And, then, she appeared…a mother carrying the pillow she made with her hands, red, white, and blue ribbon hanging from the sides…the pillow that would hold my crown. She smiled a youthful smile, and said to the camera, “Kelly is, of course, late.”

As I heard my grandmother’s voice from behind the camera, taping the exchange, so proud of her first granddaughter who would be crowned queen that evening, and as I watched our mother-daughter exchange, the tears fell. I haven’t seen her face or heard her voice, or watched her move around with the busy, purposefulness of a mother in over five years.

“Mom”…I said through the tears, sounding more like a little girl than the mother of a grown-up man.

I longed for the camera to focus off my youthful face, the sash neatly hanging to the side of my red Homecoming suit, and on to my sweet mother. I strained for a glimpse of her, listened for her voice, desperate to soak in any nugget of her presence. I watched the procession, listened to the words of the announcer as I walked down the football field, while he spoke of all my high school accomplishments and the bright future plans ahead. The recorder picked up my mother squeezing in to take a picture of her daughter. I heard my grandpa call me a ham into the recorder as newspapers snapped our picture, and one of the nicest football players in the school placed a crown on my head. It flashed to the dance, where my mom walked by the camera, beautiful in her pixie hair cut, flawless and young. I danced with the king in my red suit.

I made Timothy rewind and play it again so I could hear her voice…see her face, one more time. Oh, how I long for the sweet day when I will never have to live with the ache of missing that beautiful face and hearing her voice. It’s funny how crazy she made me back then. And how much I long for her now.

In the midst of the mid-life crisis nostalgia, I am soaking in every moment with my grown up boy. Today I watched him run his first track meet. In previous years, he began to prepare for the golf tournament season in the spring, so track was out of the question. I am excited to watch him participate in one more high school activity before it’s all over.

What I didn’t expect was the sheer adrenaline induced joy I experienced watching him race around the track. I loved it, and cannot wait to go again. In the spirit of randomness and my new-found love of race-watching, because as you can tell, there is a perfect storm of random emotion from every angle raining down in this woman’s psyche these days (and because it seems like there should be something of spiritual value in this post!), I’ll leave you with this verse:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Seems fitting…crowns and races and such. Running in such a way that we will receive the prize…the imperishable crown. Not the rhinestone encrusted homecoming crown this world full of things that will surely perish offers…but the true prize of eternal life with Him. When I get there, I’m going to hug my mom and listen to her talk to me, basking in the promise of no more goodbyes, and eternal life with the Savior of my soul.

For now…we run the race.


  1. I lost my own mum last September. The ache of missing is very hard right now. Thank you for the reminder of the reason we run this race – for the hope of things to come. X

  2. I loved this! I could feel exactly what you were describing. I watched my wedding video and it’s funny how you remember in your mind what your mom sounded like, but seeing it on video and really hearing it just brings out so many emotions. I too cannot wait for the day we will be together again. Now, I need to see a picture of homecoming queen Kelly! :D

  3. Kelly you are such an amazing writer, I love reading your post I feel like I am there with you. I can’t imagine the pain of losing my Mom. Although my mom is actually my grandmother that raised me. We have not agreed much since Jonathan went to heaven….she thinks I need to “move on”. She sent me a letter that she was embarrassed by my blog. Your mother sounds so wonderful…what a blessing she was to many. I love the pics of the two of you so sweet. I am so blessed to read this post tonight. For a reminder, that even though things are strained right now with my mom, I will not always have her. Thanks Kelly

  4. Mary Koppenhofer says:

    What a beautiful post, Kelly.

  5. Love the picture of you and your mom. I love that you played the lead in Bye Bye Birdie, one of my favorites! You make so much sense to me. Watching a tape that was all about you no longer has the meaning it had at the time. Grasping for the sounds of your mothers voice makes me want to hear my mothers voice again and I will someday. How wonderful to be Homecoming Queen. Sounds like you had some wonderful HS years! What a perfect bible verse. I love your wisdom.

  6. I’m sure that was emotional watching the video w/ your mom and wishing you could have her here with you again with no cancer. ((hug))

  7. What a sweet/sad post. I struggle with nostalgia often. I guess the past seemed so simple, compared with what I have faced in the last five years…..

    The pictures of you and your mom are shining with joy……

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