C.O.B. stands for Clean, Organize, and Beautify; it’s a phrase my mom and I coined years ago together after our love of, in other words, making the world beautiful around us. My mom and were best buds and loved a lot of the same things. But in order to fully understand the meaning behind COB (I’ll just shorten it without the periods in between), I have to go back a little bit.
The strong bond that my mom and I shared wasn’t always there. Growing up, in fact, we butted heads a lot and I felt closer to my dad in the teenage years. But when my dad passed away after a battle with metastatic kidney cancer my junior year of high school, things changed. Both of my older brothers out of the home and it was just my mom and I. We had to get close real fast, because all we had was each other. I was hurting and grieving, and being a teenager I was completely wrapped in my own world and hurts. I honestly don’t think I realized or thought about how my mom was alone after losing my dad. I can’t imagine.
I still remember a day vividly in my mind when this all shifted. I don’t know what we were doing, but my mom and I were in the living room together. I was being extra quiet and not wanting to talk (I was kind of a pill as a teenager, I know!). She was trying to get me to open up and I just started crying and saying how I was hurting and missing my daddy and telling her she didn’t understand what I was going through. She looked at me and yelled “do you realize I’m hurting too?! I just lost my best friend of 28 years! The boys are out of the house and you’re here, and this is what our relationship is like!” I was stunned. It was the only time I heard my mom yell like that. There we were, two hurting souls having a yelling match in the living room.
And that was it. From that day on, our bond strengthened, day by day, and we began to stick together like glue. Attached at the hip. We needed each other more than ever.
That is not the end of the story. My mom isn’t sitting here with me laughing about our various adventures and eating dark Dove chocolates together. Life from that point on would get harder. Three years after my dad died, my mom was diagnosed with stage IV triple negative breast cancer. My healthy, lean, active mom discovered a lump and had it checked out right away. After a lumpectomy and treatment, she was in remission. But it came back. Then chemo and a double mastectomy. It came back again. She fought so hard, and yet she lost the earthly battle. I lost my best friend.
Fast forward five years after losing my dad, my mom married a sweet man named Ray. He had recently lost his wife to ovarian cancer of 30 years, and I believe so strongly they were gifts for each other. He would lovingly tease my mom (and I) about constantly COB-ing. Jonathan and him even started a COB-ers anonymous spouse support group, haha! Even the short stay hotels they would stay in at Stanford for breast cancer treatment was a part of the COB equation. My mom would lie in bed at night thinking about all of the things she would change in the room; how she would have the curtains be a different fabric, the walls could use a fresh coat of paint, etc. Ray would just laugh saying “Becky you don’t even live here!” But that was my mom. That’s how she saw life, to make it better. More organized, cleaner, and prettier. She would always say “If something has a place, its much easier to put back”. Isn’t that true. She kept our house tidy and organized growing up, but it was the warmth and peace she had that made it feel like home. She saw beauty in everything all the while laughing and bringing joy to everyone she met. That’s my mom.
Friends, I do not tell you this story to have a pity party. And admittedly there were years that I wanted just that. And there are some days, that I do sit and cry and wrestle with what has happened. Losing my parents will never be something I “get over” or “move on” from. ButI can tell you that I see the good and beauty in the hard hard stuff; amongst the deepest pain I have experienced. And yet even with going through tragedy, God has given me such a JOY that only comes from knowing Him and His peace. I sense His goodness; it’s something that is at the core of my being that I cannot shake or deny.
For years, I have held the COB acronym to myself because I felt like if I started sharing it, it would lose its meaning and I would lose the special-ness of our saying. I wanted to hold on tight to it in fear of letting the memory go and disperse. On the contrary. I love that I am able to share a piece of my mom with you all (because if she was here, I know you’d love her!). She’s so much a part of me, I want to share that. COB-ing is a part of me. It’s not something I just enjoy doing, it’s my DNA makeup and how I see life. I could COB all day if allowed! So there it is my friends. The story of COB. Use it, share it freely. And when you COB think of the bigger picture; beauty can and need sto be added to this world.