Mama Love and Mama Loss with Friends #61-64: Laura, Robyn, Amy, and Kelly

For the past several years in Los Angeles, I have helped to lead counseling groups which assist people through some of the darkest junk in their lives.  At one point in my small group, I brought along a big Norwegian sweater of my mom’s in which to wrap the girls in my group when they would share about something particularly difficult.  It became known as the “Mama Love.”  It’s a term I’ve adopted in my life because there are times in everyone’s lives when you just need a little Mama Love.  As I reflected on these next visits, they were linked with this theme, so I decided to write about them together.

So I bring you my Mama Love (and Mama Loss) visits with Laura, Robyn, Amy, and Kelly.

After my morning with Shannon and the twins, I went to have lunch with Laura in Bel-Nor, a historic neighborhood near the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  Laura is a mother of three.  Her two sons were my high school band director and my brother’s good friend in high school, respectively.  She and her husband and my parents all served on the board of band parents.  Our band had an active set of parent boosters (much like the Dillon Panthers’ boosters from Friday Night Lights), and

I have to say, Laura brings the Mama Love big time.  If it is possible to be warmly mothered through Facebook, she does it.  Her comments are a combination of truly encouraging words, a little bit of nurture, with some mama go-get-‘em-tiger umph.  While I have been on this journey, it has meant so much to have her behind me and have her saying so all along the way.

Laura and I truly did reconnect through Facebook, through a series of messages sent back and forth, and it has been a gift to me to continue to interact in that way.  But how much more of a gift was it to sit down and chat over a delightful lunch.

Afterwards, I went to meet up with high school band mate Robyn.  Robyn was my “band buddy”—when an older marcher is matched with a freshman to teach her how to march.  When we met up, she was on the tail end of maternity leave with 10-week-old Wayne.

I got to meet her husband, who is the manager at the very unique Venice Café.  She and I went there to continue our visit.  I have to say, when we pulled up, I felt like I was back in Venice, California, so they nailed the vibe.  You can see a glimpse of the decor in this picture.

We schmoozed with lots of people, nearly all of whom Robyn knew well, crew and customers alike.

Much like my visits with the people who were freshman when I was a senior, Omar and Marshall, Robyn hasn’t seen me since I was 14.  And we had so much fun!  Robyn is boisterous and full of life and funny stories.  She’s crazy about Wayne.  Definitely spreading the New Mama Love.  Since our visit, Robyn has initiated chatting with me over email.  She’s someone who is easy to communicate with in that context because you can imagine her saying exactly what she types.  And it’s a treat to have some of these visits continue into daily life later.

I know that I will continue to keep up with Amy and Kelly, who I met in the evening over infamous St. Louis classic Ted Drewe’s frozen custard concretes.  Amy and Kelly are sisters who I grew up with at church, and then they were also both in (wait for it….) color guard of the marching band.  It’s another common link among these visits.

In recent years, we have become reconnected through our common loss—they lost their mom about 3 months before I did.  Our dads have been a big support to each other and have, with one other man, formed a little widowers group.  I try to see Amy every time I come home, and this time, I got the pleasure of visiting some with Kelly, too.  And, I got to meet Amy’s new baby Nora.  More Mama Love.  Both Kelly and Amy are so easy to talk to, in addition to having shared experiences of grief and moving on.

I came back to St. Louis over Labor Day weekend for a family wedding and had the chance to visit the St. Louis City Museum, where Kelly is a director of events.  She took time out of her busy schedule to show me around the intricately designed museum.  Everything in the museum is touchable, climbable, spinnable, explorable.  It’s incredible.  Unfortunately, the inspirational gusto behind the museum, Creative Director Bob Cassilly, died in a construction accident just a week ago Monday.  But, as you can see from the rooftop below, the City Museum will continue to bring fun to families in St. Louis for many years to come.

A final link among all these visits (and with Shannon before them) is finding community through family.  Laura lives just footsteps away from her daughter.  Amy and Kelly live blocks apart.  And Robyn has a feeling of family with the crew and customers at Venice Cafe.  Whether dealing with birth or loss or everything in between, each of these people have established, stable, supportive relationships to rely on to lighten the load.  I’m grateful to have gotten the chance to glimpse it and spend time with them.

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5 Responses

  1. Ann, we were grateful for the visit! Hope to see more of you soon.

  2. Your posting brought back happy memories of the few hours we spent together. In know you’ll eventually make it back to St. Louis, so be sure to give me a call. I also noticed you are planning on going through Oklahoma. If you are anywhere near Stillwater and want to get in touch with Kevin, he is on Facebook. Enjoy your phase 2!!

    • Thanks, Laura! I’m actually seeing Kevin and the family this weekend! I’ll go to the football game on Friday and to their competition at Broken Arrow on Saturday–I’m excited!

      • I’m jealous! If you’ve never seen Broken Arrow, you are in for a surprise! Union is another huge one. Give my love to the family, and have a wonderful time!

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