I remember the moment she said it. She was standing at the door of my room, and I was sitting on the floor going through my closet. She said to leave her bedroom as it was for a little while in case I ever want to go sit in there and talk with her. She told me to rock in the rocking chair and feel that this separation is only temporary.
She was my mother. She had cancer, and I was just barely considered an adult – too young to lose my mama who also happened to be my best friend.
I did lose her just a few short weeks later. My life turned upside down and inside out. It was just she and I, but on that second to last Friday in May, it became just me. I found myself visiting that chair many times before we moved. My husband and I were engaged a few months later and married before a year was up. That’s when the big moments began. I got engaged with a ring like the many my mama and I had talked about sitting on the couch in our living room. And our wedding was wonderful – complete with a precious tribute just for her. But she wasn’t there, and I knew these sweet moments would only be the beginning of things I’d go through without her.
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t terrify me to become a mom without her here. She’s the one I called 20 times a day and could ask anything. There was no filter on our relationship, nothing was embarrassing, and she was the wisest of women. One of the hardest parts about her being gone was knowing she wasn’t here praying for me and encouraging me to draw closer to Christ. There came lesson number one.
I have a wooden sign in my closet next to a couple pictures I cherish of her and me. The sign reads: If I could be half the woman my mom is, I will have succeeded. Those words couldn’t describe my heart better. My mom wasn’t perfect, but she was perfect for me. We argued like most moms and daughters, but we had a closeness that was unique and irreplaceable.
My husband and I traveled quite the path to parenthood. During that journey, it would be fair to say I was angry. I didn’t want this trial for my life. I didn’t want to walk this painful path. The fact my mama wasn’t here to support me only made me more bitter. We were making big decisions, and I was going to be thrown into motherhood in a different way than I had imagined. One morning I sat at my kitchen table and talked to God. I told Him I was mad. I didn’t feel capable of walking down this path, and He placed a few things on my heart. One of those things was that little wooden sign.
In that moment, I felt God holding me and telling me He loved me so much, even in this moment of complete weakness. In that moment, when I wanted to pull away from Him, He called me closer. He was allowing me to grieve in a whole new way.
God reminded me that I may not be able to call my mother, but she left deep and irreplaceable impressions on my heart. She lived with joy and intention, and that’s how she mothered me. I felt like God was telling me I could be strong and be a good mother even without her here. It doesn’t mean it’s not still the hardest thing I’ve gone through and continue to go through – not having her here – but I can’t change that. What I can do is mother with that same joy and intention.
In this moment of weakness, God once again showed me He is strong and kind. He reminded my broken heart of the heart of my mother. A few months later, I did become a mama without my mama and, like I imagined, it’s been hard, sometimes very hard, not having her here. There are days where the pain of loosing her hits me all over again because I need her. I need her for myself, and I need her for my kids. In a sense, that was my biggest fear – her not being here to shine her light on my children. But my mama’s light came from Christ. She didn’t live an easy life. She was a single mother and had faced many trails in her short time here on earth, but she did everything with grace and joy. Although my kids won’t ever meet the woman that molded me into the mother I am (or hope to be), they will meet her through my actions. I hope to also introduce them to the love of Christ, as my mother did, through my actions.
I grieve my mother differently now that I am a mother. I grieve her for the mother- daughter moments, for the teaching moments, for the moments I need support and prayer, I grieve my best friend and I always will. But there is closeness there in the midst of this temporary separation. God promises us complete healing and a life without grief when we enter His Kingdom. My mama has that. I’m not one to believe that she’s watching me everyday because she would hurt over my hurt, and God promises a life without that pain in Heaven. But she is near because of the impressions she’s left on me. She continues to teach me, even being gone, because of the daily example she was.
When life becomes too much, climb up in the Father’s lap and listen to His heartbeat. He doesn’t promise us a life without pain, but He does promise to walk the painful paths with us. It’s so easy to separate from Him during trials and weakness but I encourage you to bring that to the foot of the cross. God can handle your pain and give strength to your weakness.
For I am the Lord Your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear. I am here to help you.’ | Isaiah 41:13