The last time I saw her, her soul had flewn from her body eight days before.
She was lifeless and cold. The fragile abused shell of my mother laid empty on a steel table, dressed in clothes I had picked for that day. A green blouse, khaki pants…
Her chest didn’t rise from breathe, and her burdened heart had stopped beating, leaving only a body to view in a room – soft piano music made a vain attempt to drown out our weeping sorrow.
Tonight, I heard, “If These Walls Could Speak” by Amy Grant. I climbed up onto the counter in my nearly-empty kitchen and just sat there taking in the soft melody. The last song played at her funeral. The last song I ever heard my mother sing.
When I assess my life, one of the first thoughts that floods my mind is to wonder what she would say, what she would think…
Her oldest daughter. A mother, twice. Divorced, twice. Living in Texas, raising two girls alone without a man by my side.
Would she be disappointed? Would she still love me and stand beside me even though I have failed so many times?
The fact that I will never hear her voice again while I’m on this earth really hurts my wounded heart.
I talk to other women my age and listen to their stories of their own mothers. I hear about birthing moments when mother stood next to daughter and helped coach her as she brought a new life into this world. I hear about arguments and complaints about when they do not get along. I hear about their frustrations because mom lives so far away… When I listen, I am unselfish and fully present for the conversation, but secretly, I always mourn the loss of MY mom… I wonder if anyone realizes they are actually talking to a motherless daughter, and that even though most of them never even met her, their friend which they confide in always aches for the lack of her mom – even when I smile and reassure my friends their problems will fade, and that they should be thankful to have a mother at all.
It is most difficult when I realize how many physical characteristics my daughters have of my mom. When Layla makes a face that resembles her, or as each day passes, Jemma’s eyes become a deeper shade of brown – every time I look into them, I am both pleased and feel a slight pain of bittersweet longing because in her eyes I so easily see my mom.
Nobody here in Texas really even knows her name. To them, she is but an occasional passing conversation or a pat on the back when I remind them casually that my mom is dead.
Tomorrow, I move. I move out, and I move on…
But, right now, I’d give just about anything to have one more moment of peace in the arms of the woman whom brought me to life. I’d give anything to hear her say my name or to talk me through the complications of another divorce. Or just… To tell me she loves me. And maybe, despite my failures, she is still proud of the woman I am becoming and the mother I am.
Its difficult to fully express, even for me, the myriad of lingering emotions associated with the death of my mother. As I move on with my life, as I grow, as I stumble, as I learn about the Lord and try to know and be loved by Him, I question my choices, my motives and my personality because more than most I know, I am always too aware of the fragility of life.
Because of her, I try to do my best. Give all I can give. Be a decent person, make decent choices… Have more patience for my children, call my dad more and just all around TRY to achieve the kind of life she gave up.
It was alcohol that took my mother, and for that reason I mostly avoid a drink…
It was selfishness that took my mother, and for that reason, I try to show gratitude and take less from those I love…
It was a life lived too quickly and without regard for the hurts she caused others that took my mother. And for that reason, I am an open book, nearly incapable of cloaking myself behind a wall of pretence and secrecy.
I loved my mother. I love her still.
For her, because of her, I am trying so hard to stay afloat and not give in to the things I am so vulnerable to now: Casual relationships which bear no good fruit. Alcohol. Even music that can bring me down to a place my hurting heart shouldn’t go right now because I know it will just make me feel stuck in this present darkness.
I thought a lot about my mom today, and that song didn’t help things really – but at least it got me to open up the past just long enough to be more present in right now. To hold my daughters longer, assure them of their mother’s unconditional love and to make me acutely aware of the why, how, when and where of where I am NOW so that when a new day begins tomorrow, maybe I can be better than my mom was and avoid the same mistakes of my past.
I do not write about the specifics of her death very often. Mostly because I can still remember every detail of her lifeless face, I can remember the cold flesh beneath my fingers and the way she looked frozen in a moment she never meant to rest in forever. It hurts me to talk about her, but it also heals me to acknowledge the pain.
Some day, I will have to explain to my oldest daughter why her birthday is so hard for me. I will have to explain to both my girls where MY mommy is, and why they do not have hardly any family on her side. I will have to explain what took her life…
I dread this. Because I still believe I am too young to not have a mother, and I know even though it’s been years, and it will be even more by the time they begin to understand someone is missing. I pray God gives me the words. Layla has already asked me where MY mommy is, and when I tell her she’s with Jesus she looks at me funny, her eyes full of frustrated curiosity. I cried for a while the first time she asked, because it felt too soon to have THAT conversation. I thought I had more time.
Tomorrow, I move. I am taking apart one life to begin another, and I am stuck on the fact that at yet another starting line at the age of 28, the person I would want the most to coach me through this has been absent for over six years. It sucks.
I do not want to be “down”, and I do not wish to receive pity because I admit now to what I’ve really been going through (besides the obvious, which I’ve already been writing about lately.)
I just want to find my peace.
Peace with my past. Peace with my present. Hope for my future. Not just for me, of course, but for my daughters as we begin a new life just us three.
God and me have a “thing” right now. An understanding, as it were, that I feel “stuck” in a rut. Stuck in turmoil. Stuck in shame. Stuck in abject frustration over yet another bitter end. When the man I’ve spent the past while trying my best to love is gone. When the home we made together is packed into boxes and being divided into to separate homes. When I am toting around a sweet baby on my hip and holding my toddler’s fingers in my other hand, I still look around to find my husband and realize with a gut-wrenching sigh that he is gone.
He knows I am trying, God I mean. He has to know, right? Even when I fail at being patient. Even when I stay up too late and think the wrong things and occupy my time with anything but His word. He is either shaking His fist at me or kneeling at my feet; which one or a little of both – I find comfort in the moments I step outside my mind and reach for His wisdom and truth in all of this – but when I am failing to grasp a hold, I believe He still loves me.
His love will pull me through. Now, when I think deeply about my mother. When I anticipate what will come when tomorrow starts a new day. When I cry because I am alone, fearful and uncertain about the coming months and years…
He will love me.
My mother is gone. AJ is gone. My maiden family is in the North West. My siblings and lifelong friends are busy with their families, children, work. The friends I’ve made here are the biggest support system I could ever imagine and I know, because God knew I would need it, I will NOT be alone tomorrow. I will have help because He knew everyone I used to count on the most is either gone or a thousand miles away.
Most of all of this, what I take comfort in is the blatant truth that God has blessed me with a strength I didn’t know I had. The glory for this is ALL to God. Because as I sit here and occupy my mind with all the things I miss, the faces I cannot see, the sweet smell of my mother, the warm embrace of my husband, the laughter with my closest family and friends… I am aware that not all is lost.
I am thankful, more than everything else. Thankful that I have the gift of deep thoughts and true introspection. That I have the gift of writing. That I have the gift of my beautiful children. Great friends here in Texas whom seek the Lord and are willing to give a single Mom their Saturday morning so I do not have to do this alone.
I miss so many things. But though I began tonight with this, I conclude that it will not always be this hard. I acknowledge this post didn’t go the way I intended it to, but that is part of the beauty of taking a journey with written language… I can truly process and form a thought that morphs into something perhaps more meaningful than I originally attempted.
I will end with a declaration of hope. Because as long as we have that none of the rest of it can truly have power to shape whatever tomorrow may bring. Not my failures. Not a man whom left me to move from our home by myself. Not the fact that my family is far away. Not the death of my mother a hard place in my soul I dwell on because of an Amy Grant song.
God has power over all of it and because He gave me the gift of a resilient heart and a sound mind, I know – I know – tomorrow, we will be OK.
No matter WHAT.