Skip to main content

Missing Mom

artist Michael Meier
It's been almost a year since my mom died (Dec. 2 is the actual anniversary.) I didn't think it would hit me this hard, but all I really want to do right now is retreat into a cocoon of blankets, tea and a rosary.

Dear Husband and I were with our spiritual director last night, and I spoke of this. She said, "You know, my parents have both been gone for over 20 years, and I still have moments where I think, 'I wish you were here." And she went on to speak of the "body experience" (which is a very Franciscan thing) of missing loved ones: the longing for the touch, the voice.

I don't want Mom "back." I pray her soul is at peace with God. But her voice, her hug. Whenever I visited, she would stand at her door as I was leaving and wave. "Call me when you get home, so I know you're safe."  I'm 50 years old, and she still worried about sending her baby out into the world, where so many bad things can happen. How can I not miss that?

I'm surrounded by her things. I wear her engagement ring as my own now. My parents were married nearly 60 years; I hope Dear Husband and I enjoy at least that much time together. But it's not the ring. It's the story of how Dad met Mom, how he courted her and then asked her to marry him. Tell us again, Daddy...

A year ago, I was sleep-deprived, standing watch over her as she struggled so mightily to shed her mortal shell. She had stopped speaking, but would cry out in the night, "Thy will be done." My brother or I would pray the rosary aloud, and we would hear her voice, weak but firm: "pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death."

My brother would arrive to "spell" me. I'd go grab a few hours of sleep, and then continue sorting through her things. Every item I touched required a decision. To whom should this go? Who will be the caretaker now? Should this be tossed? And then, I'd go back to Mom and hold the hand that had held each of these items.

I know that some people associate death with a body in a casket at a funeral home. The hushed tones. The boxes of Kleenex everywhere. Dimmed lights. But that's not death.

Death - like birth - is a privilege to behold, but is also so incredibly painful. That soul is lurching, as if in labor pains, to go back to whence it came: to be with God. For the ones standing by the bedside, you hold the hand, you wipe the brow, you feed ice chips. More than anything, you pray.

My birthday in 2015 was spent in exactly the same spot that my first birthday was celebrated: in the same hospital where I was born. This time, though, the roles were reversed: I was the caretaker, the one who tended to the cry.

I have this hurdle to clear on Friday. I will pray, as I do every day, that Mom and Dad have found eternal rest, and if not, that God may grant them that rest quickly. But still...

I am sure George MacDonald said it far better than I ever could, in his poem, A Prayer for the Past:

But were they dead in me, 
they live In Thee, Whose Parable is—Time, 
And Worlds, and Forms—all things that give 
Me thoughts, and this my rime. 

 Father, in joy our knees we bow: 
This earth is not a place of tombs: 
We are but in the nursery now; 
They in the upper rooms. 

 For are we not at home in Thee, 
And all this world a visioned show; 
That, knowing what Abroad is, we 
What Home is too may know?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trying to "end run" God

If you're a football fan, you know what an end run is. From Merriam-Webster:
a football play in which the ballcarrier attempts to run wide around the end of the line We try to "end run" God a lot. I do. I figure I know better. I've got this - no need to worry the Big Guy about such a trivial thing.

Of course, it never works.

Like the puppy above, when we try and evade the tough obstacle (even though we KNOW we will eventually have to do it), we end up - well, off in the bushes.

But oh! How I wished my way worked. I'd love to take a flying leap and land smoothly and gracefully. People would be in awe, as if watching Simone Biles nail a balance beam routine that no one else would even attempt. I would shyly look down and blush - just lightly - and acknowledge (But humbly! Oh so humbly!) my achievement.

But no: I am the one pulling myself out of the bushes, scratches all over my legs and twigs in my hair. I'd hear that gentle but loving voice of God saying, &quo…

Being faithful in the midst of pain

When we are in pain, it seems as if the whole world revolves around us - or should. We only pay attention to our immediate situation.

When our kids were younger, Eldest Son had a lot of problems. There was a time - months and months - where his issues seems to need all of Dear Husband's and my attention. I clearly remember thinking one day, "Whoa - I have GOT to pay attention to the other kids." It's not like I was neglecting them ... no, I was. Maybe it was necessary; we were literally trying to save our son's future, but it didn't make the realization hurt any less. And I couldn't get the time with them back.

Maybe it's a job. Maybe it's a health issue. Maybe it's caring for a child or an elderly parent. Whatever it is, we get sucked into a situation where hurt is involved and we begin to act like an ER doctor - plugging holes, clearing airways, keeping the person alive. That's it. We are keeping the situation alive.

Then things quiet d…

Secret Santa!!

Too old for Santa? I think not.

Yes, there are discussions as to whether we should "lie" to kids and tell them that Santa brings them gifts vs. We can't lie to the kids; it's wrong.

There is also the "Christmas is about Jesus" vs. "But Santa is magical!"

You know, we have so few magical and joyful moments, and less and less as we get older. Santa is fun. And the kids usually figure it out, and no one I know was ever scarred for life for believing that Santa brought them and every child everywhere a toy for Christmas.

It's the magic of looking up at the sky on a clear December night, thinking "I'll wait up to see Santa" and later, as you fell asleep at the window, being in your daddy's arms as he carries you to bed.

It's the magic of putting out cookies and milk (or beer, because Santa does like beer) and maybe some carrots for the reindeer, and then checking in the morning to make sure the food was all consumed.

It's…