Yesterday was hard. Harder than I expected. More emotional than I was comfortable with. Yesterday reminded me that grief is a process, one that potentially never ends and never quits hurting.
My mom and I didn’t always have the perfect relationship, but our relationship was pretty great once I moved out of the house and went to college. Whether I was a college student, a young mom, or a busy working mom, my mom and I talked every day. Every day – pretty much without exception. I’m not going to lie, on some of my more chaotic days those calls drove me a little crazy. I didn’t always have the time to give my mom that she had to give me, but more days than not, that talk with my mom made everything in the world right. It calmed me. Reassured me. Made me proud, made me feel loved and special.
My life is pretty awesome and I have lots of people who love me and love me well (including my VU family!). But yesterday morning on the way to work, one tear fell, and then another, and another. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the parking lot here at the office and the tears just wouldn’t stop. They just kept coming and coming. In that moment, I just needed my phone to ring. I needed to hear her voice. I needed and desperately missed a love that only she could give me.
Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. She would have been 70. Oh how I miss her and the birthday party we weren’t having; hugging her, kissing her cheek, feeling her warm hand holding mine as we celebrate her life and her legacy.
Sitting there, I reminisced about our tradition of celebrating our birthdays together, doing Christmas shopping and having lunch. I thought about the set of dishes she gave me the last birthday she was alive; how many of them are now chipped and some have been broken and thrown away.
I wondered what we would have done this year to celebrate. How excited she would be to see Matthew growing into an amazing young man, picking a college and deciding on a career field. How proud she would be to know Madison is pursuing nursing. After all, she was always such a good caregiver when Mom was sick. How she would LOVE my job at VU and as always, be so very proud of me. Proud of me in a way that perhaps only moms can be of their daughters.
I am a motherless daughter. Some days that stings less than others. Yesterday the sting instantaneously became a deep ache; a longing that can’t be filled on this side of Heaven. And by God’s design, later in the day I interacted with two other people reeling from deep losses. I felt their pain and in some weird way, was reminded that I am not alone in my suffering.
In the timeless classic Good Grief, author Granger Westberg writes, “Emotional release comes at about the time it begins to dawn upon us how dreadful this loss is. Sometimes without warning there wells up within us an uncontrollable urge to express our grief. And this is exactly what we ought to do: allow ourselves to express the emotions we actually feel.”
My mom will have been gone seven years on Jan. 1, 2016. She died after a brief (two-week) battle with cancer. After seven years, I am still surprised with these emotional releases that Westberg writes about hit me. He is right. The emotions well up uncontrollably. There is no stopping them. Even when I want to. Even when I am sitting in my car trying to pull myself together so I can walk into work.
And so, I cry. I remember. I long for her advice on raising teenagers. I miss our birthday lunch and shopping. I hate that the phone doesn’t ring and her name doesn’t pop up on my phone. But, then I remember how thankful I am for the days we had together and I remember the pain I feel today is a small price to pay for feeling so loved.
Then I dream. I imagine her in Heaven, with no more sorrow, no pain. She enjoys the presence of Our Creator. She has a peace that I can only imagine. She is home. And then I can breathe again. I can hope again because I remember my source of joy – both in this life and for eternity – hasn’t departed from me.
Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal.