I miss you

Dear mom,

I can't believe it's been an entire year already. Each day without you gets a bit easier, but the part of my heart that you have permanent residence in? It's always going to be a bit jagged and painful. Just a bit. I know that pain will lessen the longer it goes, but I also know I will always, always miss you!

This morning I saw a car with a handicap thing hanging from its rearview mirror and it made me think of you. The days leading up to Mother's Day last weekend were filled with advertisements all about celebrating and it made me miss you fiercely. (I've learned holidays will do that. I have much more compassion for those who are grieving around any major holiday now.) I visited Biltmore Estate last weekend with friends and all the beautiful flowers reminded me of how much you loved them. How much you would work in your flowerbeds and how many hours and hours we spent at greenhouses (I also remember how much I dreaded going, I didn't understand your love of flowers back then, did I? :) looking for just the perfect ones to plant. I never knew there were so many reminders of you around, but there are. And I simultaneously love it, yet it makes me cry.

I used to read in fictional stories about how a character who had lost one or both of their parents years before the story begins would still get teary-eyed when they thought of them. I remember sort of rolling my eyes, thinking that surely the grief couldn't still be that fresh. Ah, how wrong I was! I don't cry at the drop of a hat, but when I spend a good deal of time (like today) thinking about you and all that I miss and how much I wish you were here, the tears come. And I think how could I be any different? I think it's just part of loving someone so much. Your heart will forever miss them once they're gone. So kudos to the authors! Because they were right.

Dad and I stopped by your gravesite the other evening. I told him how I don't often visit you there, but every once in a while I feel the need to go talk to you. There's something soothing about it, telling you all the things I'd tell you if you were here.

That's one thing I really miss, talking to you. All these memories from years past have surfaced in the last year. Things I'd forgotten all about. But now I remember all the times I sat with you and cried over the aches and pains I dealt with. All the teenage angst and the friendship issues and the fears and wonders. You listened. Every single time. You couldn't always fix it, but you always listened and always had a hug for me. I never once doubted that you'd be there when I needed it. And I'm so grateful, mom. I wish I had told you how much that meant to me over the years.

My heart is full though. I had you in my life for just over 30 years and while I wish I could've had you for 30 more, I'm so glad for the memories I have. Some people lose their mom far sooner than I! Instead, I have your quiet example always before me. You taught me so much more than even the words you spoke, and you made me feel loved and wanted every single day of my life. So I'll gather that love deep inside me for the days my grief hits a bit harder and trust the Ever Faithful to keep me going.

I love you whole bunches, mom. Forever and always!



faith builders

When things aren't going smoothly in our lives, that's usually when God is allowing the Hard to build our faith. Isn't that just what He does? 

The thought occurred to me recently that ever since I moved back to VA over three years ago, my life has felt like a constant upheaval process. My emotions seem to fly all over the place and my reliance on Him seems to have to be rebuilt day after day after day. I doubt and fear far, far too often. Yet even through the doubts, He has remained faithful. When I look back at different moments, I can see His hand working so very clearly. In turn, this continues to remind me how wonderful He has been to me! :) Never once in my life has He ever turned His back on me. Ever. Yet it's the Hard that makes me call on Him. When life was flowing easy, like my life before my Big Move, I didn't have much forward movement. It was more stagnant treading of water, there was action on my part, but I wasn't really going forward.

But now. Even in the ups and downs and fears and wonderments, I feel like I'm actually moving ahead. Like my faith is being built up and even when I doubt, it's simply a way for God to use to prove to me once again how much I need Him. I might only be taking baby steps, yes, but even a small bit of progress is still progress! :)

I just love how I can look back at my life and pinpoint moments where my faith grew. Where He proved Himself faithful once again when I let Him have my everything. Sometimes it's too easy for me to look at my life in the current and see only the Hard of the moment. Yet when I take even one step back and look at the bigger picture, all I can see is amazement of how far He's led me! Because when it's the Hard that He uses and your life is seemingly one Hard after another? There's nowhere for your faith to go but up, right?

So here's to the faith builders in our lives. They aren't always fun, sometimes they hurt like you wouldn't believe, yet in the end we learn to trust the heart of the Ever Faithful. What more could we ask?


Behold HE Comes!

Behold He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun, at the trumpet's call
Lift your voice, it's the year of Jubilee
Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes

You've probably heard the song Days of Elijah. I went to a singing school program last week where the children sang this song and it was beautiful! I'd heard it before, knew it fairly well in fact, but there was just something about hearing children's voices singing those words of glory and excitement. :)

As I sat at a funeral service over the weekend for my great uncle, my mind kept returning to those words: Behold HE comes!

Life and death circle each other constantly, don't they?  There seems to always be new babies born and not a single one of us is exempt from a final goodbye with our loved ones. Goodbyes are hard and can be yucky sometimes. Or at least, they can cause us to feel yucky and sad. But when you look at a casket of someone who has truly lived for Jesus, while there may be sad, mostly there's rejoicing. I wore orange to the funeral because while I figured I'd probably stand out amidst all the darker clothing (and I did, indeed), I wanted to shout that it was a day of celebration! Because it was. I mean, if there is lots of rejoicing in Heaven when someone here chooses to follow Jesus, how much more rejoicing must there be when one returns Home again? :)

So even as grieving may bring sad, even as the hard things of life may bring heartache, this one thing we can absolutely count on. HE is coming again, and when He calls us, no matter what we've experienced here, it will be worth it all.

Out of Zion's hill, Salvation comes!

May bittersweetness

Today marks a year since our journey began. Exactly a year ago today, mom went into the hospital and when she came home five days later, we knew it was for the last time. Wow. A whole year has gone by! I don't know that I dwell so much on all the particulars about how much I miss her every day, but I do think about her just about every single one. Life gets busy and it's funny the times that I'll think about how hard it's been, yet other times all I really think about is how much I miss her smile.

I don't know that anyone else in my family even remembers the exact dates like I do. But I haven't forgotten them. (Oh I probably will some day, but not yet.)

May 2nd, the day she went to the ER.

May 3rd, the night she went on the ventilator and scared all of us silly.

May 4th, the night we decided we wouldn't put her on a feeding tube.

May 6th, the day she came home for the very last time. What a bittersweet moment that was. All my family had been together just that afternoon, surrounding her bedside at the hospital, before one of my brothers had to leave. And the sweetness of being together, singing, praying, ah my heart. And then we brought her home. So wonderful to have her there, where she was most comfortable and so were we! (Hospitals can be nice places and the staff that week had been fantastic in their care of us all, but there's just no way to truly relax there.)

May 7th, early morning and late night, twice she woke up and giggled and laughed and tried to talk a little bit. Such sweet, sweet moments that I'll treasure forever.

May 8th, my last Mother's Day I got to spend with her. She had lots of visitors that day and was in and out of awareness.

And then each moment got more and more precious as they got fewer and fewer. Until that final moment when she let go. Forever.

This year, the month of May is bittersweet. Not in a bad way! I don't plan to burst into tears the entire month (I hope), but I've a feeling my emotions will be closer to the surface. And I'll think of her just a little bit more often.

I miss you, mom. And I love you, forever and always.