Since my mom passed away in September, many emotions have been ebbing in and out of my heart. I know this is a normal part of the grieving process, so I am attempting to allow myself to feel each emotion as it comes. Along with all the emotions, comes the questions of what I could have done better. How many times I let my selfishness keep me from enjoying more time with my mom and doing more than I did for her. And hidden in the back of my mind and heart, are the questions about the things that came between us in the past. The growing up years.
Although the recent years of living with my mom brought us closer together, each of us learning to forgive and overlook weaknesses, these questions were lingering in my subconscious mind.
The other day I was thinking of my mother, and could feel her presence. I told her I was sorry for all the ways I let her down, and for not always being there for her in the way I should have been.
Instantaneously, I heard her voice. She said, “You did the best you could. And I did the best I could.”
Those words, simple as they were, really broke through to me. In this life, as humans, we will always fall short. No matter how much we love someone, and no matter how hard we try to do the right things…we will always fall short. I realized that my mom loved all of us so much all through the years, and she never stopped loving us. Even though she was the perfect mother for us, she was not perfect.
And neither am I.
And that is ok.
Dear Lord, thank you for shining your beautiful, healing, comforting light on our families. Thank you for filling our hearts with your love, and then touching those we love through our imperfections. Thank you for always working through us…even when we are unaware of your presence, or not “feeling it.” For it is in our weakness that your power is made perfect.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Since my mother’s death in September, it has been hard for me to focus on the feelings and truths that are waiting for me to acknowledge.
It’s not that I am consciously afraid of the feelings that will bubble up, but more that I know the immense tidal wave of feelings and memories that will engulf me, and I just need “me time” to sort it all out, and actually have the time to feel, face and process all that the Holy Spirit reveals to me.
My heartfelt thanks and gratitude go out to all of you that have prayed for my mom, me, and my family, and also for your love and support. An extra thank you to Tina, who reached out to me in her special way, to empathize and encourage me to write. She knows that writing helps me to sort things out, and hopefully my search and struggle will help others who may be experiencing similar things.
Right now I am feeling overwhelmed, with the magnitude of what is occurring in our country and the world, and also with the tapestry of my own life. Although none of us will ever know the full beauty of our life tapestries until the Lord reveals them to us in His Glory in heaven, I feel as though some of the golden threads will be made visible to my eyes, through the Holy Spirit. Somehow, the Lord will open my eyes and heart to understand the reasons for events in my life, and also the lessons that I was meant to learn through each struggle. How everything was interconnected, and how the Lord always leads us to beauty, even through things we consider to be evil and ugly.
Beauty and Love are always to be found, especially when things are the darkest…especially in the midst of pain, struggle, and any evil that Satan wreaks on our lives.
So I ask for your patience, as I trudge forward, one step at a time. I ask the Lord to use me as a vessel, to touch hearts that need to be touched with love and comfort.
This past Saturday, I went grocery shopping. As I listened to Christmas music while strolling the aisles with my cart, my eyes caught the rice pudding. The delicious, all natural rice pudding that I always bought for my mom. All of a sudden, I was overcome with emotion. It was an all consuming sadness, happiness, and love, all at once. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, and just stood there, looking at the pudding, unable to move. I allowed myself to feel all of it fully, and then just moved on.
After that, little snippets of memories kept popping up.
The awesome birthday parties mom gave us. Mine was a fall birthday, so the decorations were always fall themed…lots of orange and black crepe paper and pumpkins. Orange, yellow, and brown flowers on my cake, and honeycombed bright orange pumpkin centerpieces. I absolutely LOVE fall, and those birthday parties are probably one of the reasons I love it so much!
The delicious soft boiled eggs she made for me mixed with pieces of white bread. When I was feeling a little sick, the eggs were so comforting to me.
Playing cards and board games with mom…she was the master of Canasta!
The way she always had something to serve to visitors. Even if it was store bought cookies and coffee, or sharing our dinner, there was always something to offer to guests.
The grocery store. When Mom first moved in with us, she would go grocery shopping with me, using her cane. She would just want to buy everything, mostly sweets, so we got two carts and we both filled them. Then she started using her walker, which then led to a wheelchair. Although it was stressful when she shopped with me, it was sad when she no longer asked to go.
As soon as I walked into the house after shopping, she would always ask, “What goodies did you get?” Meaning, cheesies, donuts, ice cream, cookies, pudding, etc. I tried to limit them a little, but she ended up getting most of what she wanted.
“The rosary is on at three thirty; would you like to pray it with me?” When I finally accepted Mom’s invitation to pray with her, our relationship changed. I remember one occasion vividly. While we were praying, I looked over at her face. There is no other way to describe what I saw…her face was illuminated and transformed. I could literally see the Holy Spirit shining from her.
The many times she told me to just relax. There was always so much to get done after work and on weekends to stay caught up as well as I could. She was always telling me to let things go and just relax. Maybe I should have listened???
On one of the days right before she passed away, my sister asked how she felt. Mom said, “I’m good, but not as good as I will be in February.” When my sister asked her what happens in February, she said, “I am going to have a great grandson!”
At one point, I said, “Mom, you know you will see your great grandson once you are in heaven.” She looked at me with a glint in her eye, and said “I know, but I am not ready to leave this world yet.”
One night when she was having a hard time sleeping due to her breathing issues, I climbed in bed with her, and held her hand. I asked her if it was ok that I was in bed next to her. Her answer? “We should do this more often.”
The look of wonder in her eyes the day before she died, when she looked straight into my eyes and said, “You have the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen!” And then she called me “Jan” and proceeded to tell me about her daughter, Bernadette, and her husband that take care of her. She said they did such a good job, but she worries that they do too much and worries about their health.
That moment when our eyes connected, when she was so weak and had gone through another breathing episode. She asked me if I gave her “the pill” yet. I “knew” that she meant that she was ready to pass on…she was ready to leave. I am not sure why she thought there was one “pill” that would allow her to die, but I do know that she trusted me and she was telling me that her time on earth was ending.
Where does this all lead to?
Beauty and Love are always to be found, especially when things are the darkest…especially in the midst of pain and struggle. And too many times, we do not understand the truth of that, until our world is shaken. Until that person is taken away from us. Until a stressful or difficult situation is behind us.
I take great comfort in this truth:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28