Birthday Tears

I thought I was doing quite a bit better in this whole mourning process. I haven’t been feeling weighed down and on the edge of tears for the past month or so. Not that tears don’t sneak up on me sometimes. Because they do. But the emotions came in briefer blips, and haven’t been lingering for hours and days.

But even though the day is bright and sunny, the birds are singing, the apple trees are blooming and it’s my favorite time of the year, I feel the heaviness of heartache sitting on me again. I think it’s because my birthday is tomorrow.

It feels strange to me that my birthday would make me cry. It’s not about getting older. I think it’s because this is the first birthday I’ve had in fifty seven years without my mother. And I’m surprised it’s impacting me so much, since my mom hasn’t really known me for years. But there was still such a comfort in visiting her and just being with her.

Here are memories I wrote last year….

“Mom, it’s me– Cheryl. It’s my birthday today.”
Mama looks at me and asks, “What do you want to do?”
“I want to have a party with you.”
Mama looks at the massage therapist on the other side of her and raises her eyebrows and frowns a bit. It almost feels like she’s rolling her eyes at me.

But a minute later Mama reaches out and takes my hand. And she holds it securely for about ten minutes. And she taps my hand with her thumb as she holds my hand.
And I smile.
The massage therapist says, “What a gift!”
And I agree.

Thank You Jesus for my sweet Mama. For the life and love and example she gave me.
And for her soft hand holding mine today.

And here’s a memory from 2015…

I sit on the love seat and ask Mama if she wants to sit by me. She gets up from her rocking chair right away and shuffles over and plops down next to me. She leans her head on my shoulder and says something she’s never said to me before. She asks, “Will you take care of me?”
“Yes, Mama,” I answer. “I will take care of you.”

She pats my arm. She sings a bit of “I love you a bushel and a peck” with me.

I start “our” verse, “For God so loved the world…” I pause waiting for her to finish it.
But instead Mom says, “He did, I guess…”

I take out the bag of Mini Pecan Delights I brought Mom for Mother’s Day and we eat a few of them as we cuddle. And for a few minutes I forget about all the other challenges in life. And I soak in this gentle softness of sitting next to Mama.

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I miss Mama this year. I suppose I will every birthday. And I’m a little bit dreading Mother’s Day. But I’m so thankful for all the years I did have with my precious mama and all the memories that we made. I”m thankful for every word I wrote down, so I can picture and relive the moments again.

And I’m forever grateful that God DID so love the world, that He sent His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) And because of that, I know that even though I may miss a few birthdays on this earth with my Mama, I’ll have an eternity of birthdays with her to come!

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Christmas Mourning

     I’m missing Mama so much today. Having a day of tears in between trying to get some things done. It is such a strange mix to have Christmas and mourning together. But how much deeper would our grieving be if we had never had Christmas and all that it means. I can’t imagine.
     So I call Social Security and wait on hold for forty minutes to tell them Mama has passed, as I’m surrounded by boxes and gifts that need to be wrapped. And I tuck thank you notes, for meals and memorial gifts, into Christmas cards. And I open an envelope of death certificates that came in the same mail with a mix of sympathy cards and Christmas greetings.
     And I miss Mama. I think about our last week or so together. The last way that Mama really communicated to me, when she had lost her ability to speak, was holding onto my hand. A few days before she died she still had such strength. She would grip my hand so tightly it would almost hurt. Sometimes I’d have to move and pull my hand away for a minute, and it was actually difficult to do. I marveled at her strength.
    And then I missed it, that last day or so, when her hand no longer squeezed mine. I’d slip my hand under hers, so I could feel like she was touching me. And I’d hold her hand, but receive no pressure back.
     This is a tough Christmas. But I keep reminding myself of one of the last things Mama said to my daughter, “God is here. He is bigger.” I say that to myself often these days.
     And I was wondering what the last words she said to me were, that were responsive. So I just looked back at some notes… On December first I had said, “I love you, Mama.”
And Mama had answered, “I know that.”
     And I smile through tears and am thankful.
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