The promise of a beautiful day made us decide to let the fire go out in the pellet stove. I came down in the early morning darkness, and it was chilly in the farmhouse at Shady Acres.
My heart felt bleak, too. The last few days have been a struggle to stay optimistic. I told someone earlier this week that everybody was grumpy! OGA has been touchy and a little schitzy. BL has been difficult beyond my ability to understand. And my own restless heart has been impatient and selfish. When I felt like even BL’s pulmonologist was a bit peevish this week and I resented being sent for a chest x-ray for BL, I was brought up a little short on the fact that the problem (just might!) lie with me.
This morning, when my alarm went at its usual time, I felt the darkness in my soul. I turned over, accosted immediately by an unaccustomed ache in my head, and a stuffy nose. But morning’s work was waiting, so I did what needed doing, the usual morning routines; Making beds, combing, straightening what needed straightening, washing my face, getting dressed, using moisturizer, washing my spectacles. Certain Man was already downstairs, having had difficulty with heartburn early in the night. I came down to find him soundly asleep in his chair. I went to get my morning vitamins and coffee.
How very much I’m missing my Sweet Mama. The memories of her last few weeks of life have been hounding me, and the sadness sometimes feels overwhelming. I know she’s okay now. I know that she would say that the difficulty of those hard, hard days are but a part of a long forgotten past, and that she blesses the tempest, lauds the storm that tossed her safely on the Heavenly Shore. I know she’s okay!
But sometimes it doesn’t feel like I am. Not all the time. Not when I have something I want to ask her. There are just life questions that only a Mama can answer. Not when I have something I want to tell her. I wish I could see her eyes light up with that familiar gleam, and hear her opinions and reactions and verdicts on human nature. Not when I just wish for the physical essence that was my Mama for all of my life. The sound of her voice, the taste of her cooking, the smell of her cologne, the visuals that defined her — her pretty dresses, her neat hair, her beautiful face, her gentle touch. My Mama. Everything so gone. So unreachable. The aching void is made more acute by the color and light and authenticity of my memories, and by these long nine months. (“Lord Jesus, she’s never been gone this long!”)
I bring myself into the comfort of the blue recliner that I purchased with money that I was given from Mama’s account, and shiver in the predawn quiet. Folded on the back of the chair is the trusty afghan that Middle Daughter found, barely started, among her grandma’s things. Deborah brought it home, worked on it furiously and finished it before Christmas. When I opened my presents in our family Christmas gathering, there was this lovely blue and white afghan in a familiar stitch, lying in the tissue paper. And when I heard the story behind it, I knew it would do more than warm me on chilly days. On this morning, when it is easy to feel bereft, I reach for my afghan and stretch it over my toes and snuggle my arms under its welcome protection. It’s time to think. It’s time to allow myself some grieving time. It’s time to allow myself to be comforted.
Allow myself to be comforted? Sometimes I don’t even want to be comforted. Sometimes I just want to feel the ragged, broken shards of grief, and I just want to feel the reality of this loss. Sometimes I don’t want to listen to reason (she was so miserable so much of the time in the last year, she was getting older, we all have to go sometime, it must have been “her time”). And sometimes I don’t want to listen to hope! (She is healthy. She is happy. She is more alive than she has ever been. She had the promise of Heaven. She was going HOME to be with people she loved as well her Savior. She believed. She had fought a good fight, she had finished the course, she had kept the faith.)
But in the softness of the afghan, in the reiterating of my sorrow, in the tears and in the memories, I find myself (strangely) comforted once again. I think of the colors she loved, the spring time yearning she always had to dig in her flower beds and make something pretty. I think about the fact that she fostered relationship with me and my siblings in such a way that we truly knew her, and in these days since her passing, I have things that bring up specific, wonderful memories that remind me that I was so blessed to grow up with the sort of Mama that she was. Not perfect, but never wavering from her commitment to raise us to love Jesus and to make sure of Heaven, and to love each other and to do all we can to see to it that the next generation knows the way HOME.
Comforted? Yes, I’ve been comforted. Easter is just around the corner when we celebrate the victory of JESUS over death and the grave. When our RISEN LORD became the cornerstone of our Faith. Where a cross and an empty tomb became a place for me to hang this heart that sometimes feels so fragmented.
Is it enough?
Indeed, it is!
And this old heart gives broken, grateful praise