I have been emotionally preparing myself for this week and weekend. Understanding the deep and very painful emotional bruise I now carry, I have been carefully navigating through the past several days. But not in a way anyone would expect. I’ve actually been looking for opportunities to “run into things” that push on that tender spot and make me think of her, my beautiful mama, who has been gone now for 108 days.
I have a little shelf in my living room cabinet where I collect things that remind me of her. I have purposefully gone to the markets and shops that she and I loved visiting together, just to look for things that she would have called me over to see, or that she would have secretly bought and then handed me on the way out the door. We bonded over our love for shopping adventures and we especially enjoyed the conversations we had in these sacred times together.
I have intentionally read things that she has written and deliberately held things that she has bought or made that remind me of her. I have looked through her purse, run my fingers over her clothes and studied her handwriting. I have left her messages through my tears and listened to messages she left me in the months before she passed. I’ve kept her phone charged, just so I can hold it and look through her photos and contacts. I have paused and closed my eyes and pictured her smile, her voice and memories of her amazing hugs. I have felt the tears welling up and sought out safe places where I could feel, embrace and then express my feelings for her.
God gave me the most beautiful picture this morning. It was an aerial image of me standing on an island, surrounded by a vast and beautiful ocean. As the shot panned in, I noticed that I had everything I needed; I was well cared for and lacked for nothing. I was smiling, and I could sense the peace and the joy that I felt living there.
I realized that the ocean represented the void I feel without my mom. It surrounded me on every side and although it seemed overwhelming, it was such a beautiful reminder of who she was and the incredible gift I got the day God picked me to be her daughter. There is implausible splendor in the memories I have from the 50 years I got to spend with her. And God (being the loving Father that He is) showed me that as the water recedes, the beauty and awe will still be there, but the pain will be lessened with time. It will expose more of the land (peace) and less of the water (loss), but the water will still surround. I take such comfort in this because I actually want this “ocean” to be a permanent part of my life…I want to always remember that deep love I had and will always have for my mom.
So today I embrace the tension between grief and gratitude as I recognize the gift that is woven into my profound loss. It is the gift of having loved someone in the deepest, richest and most rewarding way…the kind of love that leaves an ocean of emotion. It’s a love with no reservation and no regret. It’s a love that lasts forever, beyond the boundaries of time or physical presence. It’s a love that finds intense joy where memories and loss collide. It is a healthy, powerful and life-changing kind of love.
And it is mine. It’s forever mine. My mom is no longer physically with me but her love and strength are knitted into my being. And one of my favorite things about her—her smile—is a permanent part of me. So as I reach to find that joy, I actually get to share that part of her with the world. And when people ask me where I got my smile, it makes me beam as I tell them, “From my sweet mama.” I love you, mom and I miss you like crazy. Today is about celebrating you…and that doesn’t stop in your absence. In fact, it grows over time. What an amazing gift you have left to fill my heart.
If you know someone who could benefit from this post, please share. God carved out a path of intense healing for me and I would like to share it with as many people who need or want to hear.