Deep breathe in….and exhale. The last of the firsts is here. It has been 365 days since the passing of my mom. Thus, 365+ chances to weep, to laugh, to learn, to writhe, to grow, to reflect. I sat down to write this about 12 hours ago…and couldn’t bring myself to do it. The days leading up to this one seemed like an uphill and insurmountable battle. But this evening while talking to my roommate, it finally clicked that the date itself can hold no power over me. What happened, well, happened… No matter if today is January 30th or July 30th. Truth be told, I feel like I needed to write this post as a form of closure. Last year, I was so broken hearted and in shock I don’t believe I was fully able to honor Mama’s legacy. So here goes my “redo”- my opportunity to say what I would have wanted to say at her memorial, had I the words to speak them.
Oh Mama. How I long to have had more time. My deepest regret was not slowing down enough to savor the mundane with you. I long for the minutes: to have heard more about your adventures with Aunt Cheryl, to have traveled with you to Italy with Auntie Anne, to have just sat listening to the cadence of your breathing, to hear of your silly jokes with Pat, and to have figured out what on earth your coded measurements for beef stew are! So much of me hates all the open ended questions that remain hanging in the air… Like why you didn’t think highly enough of yourself to take care of yourself. I told you I was angry for not letting anyone know you were so sick, but the truth was I was angry at myself. Anger is toxic, and I will no longer let it rob my from all the joy.
You spent much of your life thinking your existence went unnoticed. I beg (on my knees pleading) to disagree. You are still one of the only people I know who could light up a room just by being in it. Your laughter was contagious and overflowing. You loved so passionately and intensely that your heart was (quite literally) bursting at the seams. You gave and gave and then somehow found a way to give more. You were always open to lend an ear, or a shoulder, or some food (no wonder why the Mortgage Master people loved you so much). You opened your home time and time again to friends and strangers alike. You almost never judged a book by its cover- trying your best when you were able to see others as God’s children. You labored in prayer for us, and you sought to know God as best as you were able. You always knew the right thing to say- even if that was to say nothing at all. You made yourself a mother and friend to every- and I mean every- friend and acquaintance Josh and I ever had. You were the first coach, cheerleader, advocate, and friend I ever had. You were faithful to a degree most only know exist in novels. I think what I loved most of all was that you were willing. You were a yielded heart that gave and gave until your heart could give no more.
So today, I want to thank you for the many gifts your life has imparted to me.
You gave me friendship: a model I wish to live out based on the principles of vigilant loyalty, forgiveness, and faithfulness. You set the bar so high. You would drop everything for anyone in a moments notice to be by their side. Story after story proves this. Most of all, I am so grateful you were my best friend.
You gave me the ability to dream: you believed in us and always taught us to work hard and fight for what we wanted.
You gave me gift of seeing value: everyone deserved to be valued and treated like family.
You taught me the importance of hospitality… And in doing so, possibly entertaining angels in our midst.
You imparted to me a love for Jesus, His Kingdom, and service- by teaching us from a very young age to love and live the Word…. Even if you struggled to believe it all the time yourself.
You showed me it’s okay to be vulnerable, because you showed me the damage one does if she is not vulnerable and honest with the people who love you.
You gave me the gift of appreciating the joy in life: the list could go on and on-
holding a baby, celebrating a birthday, watching a sunset, worshipping God as the tide moves in, laughing at the inane and innocuous.
You taught me the importance of taking care of yourself: I now have a renewed sense of urgency in taking care of my health due to the terrible example of neglect in your own life.
You illuminated the need to have right and healthy thinking: your record playing in your head was lie after lie after lie. You always thought you were alone, unworthy of love, and that you had no friends. All of these are lies. I was confronted with the need to constantly submit and check my thoughts with God’s and make certain what I feed myself is true, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy.
You gave me a snapshot into the true community I have: an outpouring of constant texts, emails, hugs, and phone calls all reminding me that I am surrounded by incredible people and that I am immeasurably blessed.
You showed me the beauty and power of love: fierce, devoted, focused love that only a mother could give. I hope I can emulate you someday in this. I was fortunate enough to know each and every moment of my life that I was loved unconditionally.
It was in your passing I learned many things I might not have known unless I was forced to confront my ugliness and my insufficiency. God used your death to teach me about a deep and abiding hope that far surpasses the relief I have at the thought of seeing you again someday. It was only in those many and numerous moments of utter loss I was able to see what it really means to depend on Christ. God has changed me so profoundly that I can honestly say I am a totally different person today.
Finally, you taught me life is short, and we must utilize every second we can before it slips past us.
So, my dear precious Mama. How could thanks ever be enough? How I long to hug you once more. For now, I will take heart in this:
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Cheers to you, mama. Til we meet again.