No one but no one can love you like Jesus and your mom. That's the thought that occurred to me this morning. As I approach the fifteen year mark of the loss of my mom I am still struck by that fact. I can't wrap my mind around all the things she has missed. Her two granddaughters have graduated from high school, with the oldest about the graduate from college. The baby boy she last saw before he was two years old is now sixteen and learning to drive. As for me...well I'm not sure what all has changed so much other than the never ending ups and downs on the scales and perhaps a few wrinkles and grey hairs that I like to cover up. She's not here and I feel her absence today just as fully as I did ten, five, and even one year after she went home to be with Jesus.
My mother was a hugger. She could give such great mom hugs. She would stroke my hair to help me fall asleep. I would call her while I was making dinner. She could love me and talk to me in a way to make me feel better and yet she could infuriate me like no one else in the same paragraph. Who can do that? It's a skill I'm not so certain I didn't inherit from her. She made the best spaghetti, the best cookies of every kind, the best cakes, and her fudge was too dry. Which she would get mad at me about when I told her. She made hamburger helper with cottage cheese and green beans as a side dish. She told stories of being so poor when she was growing up they had to have popcorn for dinner some nights and when she made Popeye spinach as a side dish I would ask if I could have popcorn for dinner. She had a look that she could give and you knew it was time to retreat. I didn't get that. My look is more hilarious than scary. I'm told I have no game. My mother had game. Oh but did she have game.
I remember the first time I said a cuss word because I was trying to get a game from the top of my closet and they all fell on my head. When I came out from my room with a game she said, "What did I hear you say?" I was in trouble but yet when I explained why I said it, she still played the game with me. Also she was pretty sure I had learned it from her. I remember getting chased around the house with a fly swatter. Mom didn't play. It was her way or the highway and she informed me that I had to be home before dark because a little girl disappeared and was never seen again because she didn't make it home before dark and she was taken. I believed her every word and I didn't test her boundaries until much later.
She taught me how to ride a bike without training wheels...well she tried to but then she got mad at me and went into the house. Which in turn made me mad at her so I picked my bike up and taught myself out of anger. So in actuality she taught me to figure things out for myself. She let me drive her around in parking lots when I was learning to drive and then she had a professional teach me in driver's ed. Yet she was fearless to drive us to North Carolina or anywhere else she decided she wanted to go.
She taught me a meat tenderizer can me used as a hammer to hang a picture if you can't find your hammer. She taught me to look for sales and never pay retail. She taught me how to overcome and to be picky with my choices. She had terrible taste in men. She had excellent taste in shoes. She drank coffee hot year round without any cream or sugar which is nonsensical because she had the biggest sweet tooth of any human I ever met...which I may or may not have inherited from her. She smoked and drank coffee at the same time while watching Days of our Lives. Which woke her up and calmed her down at the same time and I'm pretty sure kept her at a size 4. Not a plan I intend on trying out but I think that is how that worked out. She loved yellow and sunflowers and she loved me. Even when I felt like she hated me or was disappointed in me or was mad at me she. loved. me. I can only hope that my own children know that I love them, even if, even when, no matter what.
It was me and it was her and we grew up together. She clung to her mom and I clung to her waiting for my turn for her to cling to me. And she did...but then she died...and I was broken. As I sat at her bedside and felt the presence of Jesus at the foot of her bed, it never occurred to me at that moment that I would fall so far into a state of hopelessness and depression. Instead of being held by the comfort only Jesus could provide I held onto my loss and pain.
The key word in this is 'was'. The shattered pieces of my heart slowly were picked up and glued back together by a God who understands heartache, a God who understands pain, a God who understands loss. Even if nearly fifteen years later I still hurt and miss what in my mind should have been, I rest in the fact that my mom is now whole. Her journey complete even as I still tread mine.
I find myself struggling with things I can't control, things I can't fix, things that aren't going according to the plan I had imagined. In such a time as this I find myself reflecting on what I have already endured. On what God has already completed. I have to remind myself that it is not my will but His. I'm not the author of life, I am not the one who has to spin everything into orbit, I do not hold the world in the palm of my hand. I can't. I'm not meant to. I'm not strong enough to. And I am relieved as my heart hurts and I struggle with things I cannot "fix".
The verse found in John chapter 11 verse 35 is "Jesus Wept" In this I take solace knowing Jesus himself wept. He who holds the world in the palm of His hand, He who is the author of life, He who spins everything into orbit, He who knows every hair on my head, He who formed me in my mothers womb, He who died to save me so that one day I could walk with him in eternity, He wept. How can I get through all of what I'm going through? How can I put one foot in front of the other when all I want to do is cry? Because Jesus wept. I have a father who knows. I have a father who can put back together all my broken pieces. What was old can be new again. Nothing but nothing can ever happen to snatch me from His hand. So I pace and I pray. I pray and I pace and I try to remember to eat. I try to remember that I can do what is needed because of a father who wept.