Grief is a slippery fellow. Sometimes he comes to heal. Sometimes he comes to wound. For me, I've had to learn to say that those things I cannot change must be released. Those things I can learn must be learned. Those things I can cherish must be held closely and remembered.
I write a LOT about beginnings. About starting over. About the positive pursuit of hope and the future.
Today, I'm writing about endings.
The One Who Has Known Me the Longest
On November 10, my mom turned 89. On November 16, she passed from this earth to the arms of Jesus. It was the end of my life as I know it.
Literally, the one person who has been with me from the beginning is gone. And that has made me do some searching and thinking: about the past and about the future.
It's easy in the moment to think that everything in your experience with a parent who has died was either all wonderful - or all horrible. The truth is, our lives are a mix of all of it.
Sometimes my mom and I fought. We wounded each other. We looked for ways to win our point.
At other times, we were each other's greatest champion; believing in the other more than we believed in ourselves.
Mom was a woman who dreamed of great things for herself and her children. We didn't always agree on what that was.
In the end, she was my advocate, my counselor and dear, dear friend. I will miss her until the day I see her again in heaven.
Does Grief End?
So, I suppose even though this is about endings, it is also about new beginnings.
How do I begin to live as a motherless child? Am I an orphan? Some say when your parents are both dead - you experience Orphan Syndrome. Others say, "I'm not an orphan! I had two parents!" We each decide.
I have to live relying on my own motherly wisdom. What did I learn from her that I can call up now? I'm the matriarch of my birth family. That is definitely new!
I am the connector to my family's history. Sadly, I've realized much of that history went with my mother. Why didn't I push her more to tell the stories?
More than anything, I've wondered about Legacy and Meaning. My mother's physical life is relegated to boxes and notices to all the proper legal authorities. That led me to wonder if anything I do is of value. What is my mother's legacy? What is mine? If it all just ends up in a box, what is the use of any THING?
What I decided as I looked in my bathroom mirror one morning - tears streaming from my eyes - is that I AM MY MOTHER'S LEGACY! I (and my brothers and sister) are what she left in the earth to carry on. I can either disappear or continue to live. I choose to live. I choose to dream. I choose to remember who it was that taught me to dream - my mom.
I wanted to write before now, but just didn't have the willingness to look back through the events. Today, for some reason, I can.
As I searched for answers online, I didn't find many. I decided that perhaps if I would share my journey, it would help others.
The following are some of my Facebook posts during those last days and following. I've left some out that were about service times and such. I was surrounded by the love of so many friends on Facebook. They sent me messages of encouragement and love every single day. Maybe they will help you. Maybe they will help someone you love who is also struggling.
Today my Mom Madge Anderson is having a birthday - her 89th.
She is fighting every day to live a good life within the limits of her waning strength and health.She is continually seeking the Lord to grow as a woman of faith. She is releasing the past and embracing the future. I pray to be like her.
Lord bless my Mama with a good day.
Happy birthday Mom.
Can't sleep. Never up this late. Mom is sleeping peacefully. Thankful.
It is a privilege to sit with my Mom as she prepares for her Homegoing. It is hard but worth it. Please remember her in your thoughts and prayers.
[Update] Mom is lingering. She doesn't appear to be in pain or discomfort. We are doing all we know to help her know how loved she is. Our brother will be here late tomorrow night.
From time to time she will open her eyes but we know she is closer to heaven than she is to earth.
This is one of the last pictures we have right before her last visit to the hospital.
I wish we had pushed past some of our discomfort to know which scriptures or songs she would want.
Have that conversation when it doesn't feel imminent and painful so you will know.
Your words of love and encouragement are so appreciated. Thank you for your prayers, messages and thoughts.
Tonight, as I sit here with my Richard in the quiet, listening to my mother's breathing, with my heart heavy and my mind swirling with memories...I am struck by the pain and sorrow so many of you, my dear friends, are battling - grief, loss, uncertainty and fear. I offer this prayer for all of us.
Father, we your children know You see and hear us. Thank You for keeping us carefully settled into Your loving arms.
Help us to truly feel You. To share the comfort You give us with others. Help us to be compassionate- with eyes open and hearts filled with mercy. Help us to look up from our cares to see others and lift them into Your Presence through prayer, even as others do for us. Help us to remember the important and cast away the foolish. Thank You for Your love. Amen
"You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me." Psalm 139:5
"If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me," even the night shall be light about me. Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day, and the darkness and the night are both alike to you." Psalm 139:11-12
Thankful for my baby sis Glynda. She has so lovingly served and cared for our mom for years. I'm thankful we can sit here and think about all the fun times we've had with Mom. Our dear brother David will be here late tonight. Gospel music playing.
Dearest Ones. My mama flew to the arms of Jesus at 8:30 last night. Thank you for your prayers my Loves.
Though she has been celebrating with our Saviour and loved ones who have gone before since Wednesday evening, today at 1 we say our final goodbyes.
I'm so thankful and appreciative of friends and family who are pouring love and prayers over us; for their stories, which are now part of my stories of Mom.
Last night, as we stepped away from the family visitation, even knowing she is not there, flashes of memory of the thousands of times I stood at her door and said, "Goodbye Mama. I love you. I'll call you when I get home." I realized in that moment, that will never happen again.
But in that Day of my appearing before the Lord, she will be there and it will feel as if we have been separated for a breath and she will welcome me to my Eternal Home.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Thank you for your prayers, love, advice and encouragement.
Today, I am able to crawl out of myself and look around. Though I know I will miss my Mom the rest of my life, just as I have missed my Dad for the last 20+ years, I also know she prayed daily for me to fulfill my purpose and calling.
She always asked about my coaching business, my writing and speaking. She was thrilled when I told her I had begun a community of Christian women entrepreneurs in Fort Worth.
SHE would tell me to live daily, serve fully, cherish the people I love and make sure they know it, and keep my eyes on Jesus. Her last words to me were-"pray for me."
Mom, I will continue to live the life you hoped for me.
Today...I choose life and thankfulness.
I am known as a spiritually and emotionally strong woman. Sometimes, like today, when I feel broken and fragile in my sorrow about Mom's passing, I'm especially thankful to those who give me space to feel the way I feel and don't expect I should be able to be stronger. I'm thankful for my Richard who nurtures me and loves me. I'm thankful for my sister Glynda and brother David. We live far away from one another and carry our grief in some ways, alone.
My Dad has been gone for over 20 years, and my brother Jess for nearly 15. Now Mama.
I'm so thankful for the love of God and His strength that is made perfect in my weakness. Though the enemy of my soul works to make me remember all I've lost, I want to be a woman who remembers all I have been given. Day by day. Moment by moment.
I'm SOOOOO thankful for the Presence of God in my life. He is always faithful.
Today. I'm working. One step at a time.
So wish I could talk to her....
I just want to say "Thank You" and I love you. You, my friends here on Facebook have surrounded me with your love and tenderness in these days. And thank you for loving me as I pour out these musings.
I expected to feel sad; to feel loss; to feel grief. I didn't expect to feel "this". Every layer of life has a new lesson. I'm trusting this season will teach me to be more compassionate. I know it's making me look at life in a different way - wondering about many things. I often feel like Solomon - 'vanity, all is vanity'.
My Dad left this earth over 20 years ago. The youngest of our brothers 15(ish). Richard's parents both left us within the last 10 years. We've suffered loss and grief through Richard's illness. There's something different about losing your Mom - your remaining parent. Something about being the eldest woman in your family. Something about ... everything. This feels like a link in a chain to everything I know, or thought I knew about myself, my family and legacy. I'm in the place of trusting, resting, waiting.
I'm a gal who knows how to pick myself up by the bootstraps by reaching my hands out to the Father. Those bootstraps seem to elude me. Daily I'm claiming a garland instead of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. All I know is to keep trusting for the manifestation of the promise.
For my lovely friends who have walked this road before me, I love you. I'm thinking about you today.
We will walk out on the other side. We are the legacy of our parents. Who they are is not the "things" in a box, the pieces of furniture or the financial inheritance they may have left us. We are the ones who will keep them alive through our lives.
Thank you for the overflow of love, prayers and words of wisdom. I feel peace this afternoon.