I lost my mother to cancer three years ago. People told me things like birthdays and mother’s day would get easier as time went on. Unfortunately, they were wrong. Death never gets easier, in fact, grief and I just became good friends. He shows up whenever he wants, usually unannounced and stays too long for my comfort. I think a far more appropriate sympathy note would be that grief eventually becomes obedient.
It does take a long time it seems. I haven’t been able to stop myself from becoming emotional yet, but I can usually get it together in less than a minute now. That’s something I’m actually proud of. The first Mother’s Day without my mom felt like I was pushing myself to finish an emotional triathlon. Only in my case I finished dead last and a day later than everyone else. My mom still would have been proud, though.
I never know what to expect from Mother’s Day itself. I pray so that the well wishes I offer to the women in my life who are moms, and even the dads who play double duty, are filled with honest love and not even a hint of sadness or bitterness. I try to be as happy in those moments as I was when I celebrated with my own mom. I also spend a lot of time telling my un-orphaned friends to call, write, and go home often as they can. You're welcome (friend's names) mom.
I will admit, what I feel today is unfamiliar, really. I think about all the laughter and love our family shared with my mom over the years, but I’m also really sad that we didn’t get more of those moments. She believed all the days of our lives are numbered and known by God. She believed she lived exactly long enough, which makes it easier to not have her here. One day, when I have lived perfectly long enough, too, I’ll get to see my parents again and that is going to be one magnificent reunion. But whenever I’m in one of these strangely emotional moments like I am today, I try to do something that lifts my spirits and reminds me of the ever existing grace my mother showed in her difficult moments. I think of all the wonderful things I loved about my mother and I pray for those same qualities to become the gifts of mom’s I know who need them, for the seasoned moms to receive the appreciation they deserve while they can hear it, and for every mom and every child that somehow didn’t quite get matched as it seems they should have, to find each other and to have the kind of wonderful friendship I had with my mom.
I mean that. From the bottom of my heart. In fact, I know this journal entry probably seems a bit out of place considering this is a gym and not a therapy session. But I wrote all of that for two reasons. 1- I love telling people about my mom. Also my dad so yay Father’s Day. 2- I never miss an opportunity to tell people who still have their parents, that nothing should come between them as adults. You might think your parents are old and set in their ways, that they can’t remember youth and thusly just could not understand. Or maybe you just don’t really have that much in common so conversations are difficult and few and a modern marvel of brevity. Read the phone book if you have to. Say you are sorry and mean it. Seek out their best qualities and emulate them. Pray, however often as possible, that they have good days filled with laughter and love and that you can be there for those moments to etch them into your memory.
If you are like me and for some reason you've been chosen to roam the earth as an orphan for the rest of your days, I will say this- membership in this club sucks. But every situation we go through can help someone else when we are gracious enough to tell our stories. Talk. People will listen. You could change someone's perspective or help them through pain too intense for human words.
Death does not get easier, especially on days like today. But when you learn to make grief obedient, you can put that energy to good use. I haven’t really mastered that myself. If I ever do, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Happy Mother’s Day