Since you’ve been gone

Six months ago today, my mama left us for the beauty of heaven.

I honestly don’t know if I’m processing her death in the correct way, whatever that’s supposed to look like. I reflect back on the last six months in which I have intentionally chosen to spend a lot of time bringing peace and simplicity to my dad’s life. My family (including my dad) and some of my tribe have put a lot of work into cleaning up his house (we filled four 30-yard dumpsters at his property), putting it up for sale, emptying out and selling one of his other properties, clearing out the ministry office building and working through a lot of his paperwork. Whew, that’s a lot! It was important to me that we put a timeline on these things because I knew they could (and would) drag on for a couple of years if we let them. Fortunately, my dad was willing to let go…let go of my mom and let go of the stuff that may have kept him from moving forward. And then to grab hold of the memories and partner them with the purpose he still has without his wife of 51 years.

My dad wakes up every morning and spends quiet time on his porch, reading, praying and watching the hummingbirds feed. Their presence reminds him of my mom and the sweet morning time they used to share together out on the veranda. He has committed to keeping himself healthy so he’s there for us for as long as he can be. He is disciplined in his eating and exercise routines. He keeps his mind active. He spins a lot of plates and makes sure his days are full. He is still active on the board of the ministry, even though he has passed the baton of leadership.

We sat together this past weekend as he shared that he was having a nostalgic day, missing mom. His favorite moments with us kids are the quiet ones where we just sit in the silence and reflect alongside him.

My dad lets me drive my mom’s car which makes me feel like I’m borrowing it from her and will get to see her when I give it back. I keep her phone charged and by my bed, I love seeing her push notifications, a reminder of the things that were important to her. She and I used the same make-up so my morning glam routine brings her to mind. I also buy her same hair products now. My mom had several Bibles so my brothers and I each got one and we cherish her hand-written notes and highlights, a reminder of her beautiful relationship with Jesus.

This week God gave me a picture of a heart. It had two chambers, one was a void representing loss and sadness and the other was packed full of memories, stories and lasting impressions. The space between them was completely open so these two chambers could flow freely into each other. I realized that this is what my journey looks like…I am overcome by grief some days and other days, I am comforted with sweet recollections of time with my mom. Isn’t it amazing that we have the ability to feel love so deeply that when it’s not there, we feel shipwrecked? And we also have the incredible gift of memories which keep that love alive in our hearts forever, as long as we take the time to close our eyes and dance with those moments.

Today I burn a candle for my mom as a gentle reminder of her role in my life and the love I carry for her in my heart. I will continue to be intentional about surrounding myself with things that remind me of her, and I will tell her stories and share her love with those around me. I will let the void in my heart shake hands with the warmth of her memories. And I will pause in those moments, some of which will bring tears and others which will bring joy, and I will embrace everything painful and everything good about them. And this is how I will continue to heal.

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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. 

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