When Mother is a Memory

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. Proverbs 31:26

Mother; it’s a revered and holy title. For those fortunate enough to have a mother’s presence in your life, you are truly blessed. At this time of year when we pause to honor mothers, it is especially difficult for those of us whose mothers are no longer with us. My children never knew their grandmother. I lost her to cancer before I turned thirty.

My mom was amazing. She shaped my earliest memories. She was the one to dry my tears. She loved Jesus and she considered it a high calling to impart her love for Jesus to me and my sisters through her example. Through daily radio programs, the voices of acclaimed Biblical teachers framed my childhood. We went to Sunday School and were involved in AWANA Club. I distinctly remember the mornings when, waking up early, I’d find her sitting with her Bible in her lap, studying God’s Word. She fiercely loved my sisters and me.

Our lives changed dramatically in the months following Mom’s cancer diagnosis. She had a lumpectomy then a few radiation treatments that she felt didn’t go well. It was the early 90s. We went from eating pork chops, mashed potatoes, ranch chicken, and tuna casseroles to tofu or beans, accompanied by some kind of grain that we couldn’t pronounce.

Instead of continuing conventional treatment, Mom sought out any form of alternative medicine that made sense to her. Her journey led her to meet with naturopaths, homeopaths, and what we know today as functional medical doctors. She changed her diet dramatically. She actively sought for answers to healing her cancer by any other means. She wanted to live, and she wanted to be well. She didn’t trust the protocols for treating cancer conventionally, so she did things her own way. My youngest sister had turned three just a month before she was diagnosed. She wanted to live for us. And she did.

Her path of treatment allowed for her to have great days, good days, and okay days in between. There were also the days when she was really sick, and she couldn’t get out of bed. Yet, she continued to work whenever she could.

Loosing Dad, weeks after his forty-seventh birthday was a shock to us all. He was gone overnight. A silent aneurism; symptoms we didn’t see; he didn’t wake up. Through the wilderness of grief, Mom keep going. She helped me get to college that summer. She drove my sisters to their sports practices, and she was always there cheering the loudest from the sidelines of the basketball court and the soccer field.

Eventually she left the home where we were raised. She kept working. My sister graduated from high school and I graduated from college. Then we were both married.

Through all the years and life events, Mom was there. She was a woman of wisdom. She was an anchor of truth. She gave us the Gospel. She lived out her testimony giving me godly counsel as I navigated my young adulthood. Over the years, sliver strands began to pepper her dark brown hair. Her cheekbones became more noticeable. She grew thinner but her voice was always strong when I’d call, and we’d talk on the phone. Until the day it wasn’t. The cancer attacked with a vengeance and she went to see the face of Jesus, in whom she’d trusted for so many years.

Through all the years and life events, Mom was there. She was a woman of wisdom. She was an anchor of truth. She gave us the Gospel. She lived out her testimony giving me godly counsel as I navigated my young adulthood. Over the years, sliver strands began to pepper her dark brown hair. Her cheekbones became more noticeable. She grew thinner but her voice was always strong when I’d call, and we’d talk on the phone. Until the day it wasn’t. The cancer attacked with a vengeance and she went to see the face of Jesus, in whom she’d trusted for so many years.

Since mom’s passing, I’ve become a mother myself. God blessed my husband and I with two amazing children. I’ve wandered my way through being a young mom and I still have so many questions.

There are empty spaces in my life that it only a mother can fill. Becoming a mother myself has only exacerbated my realization of how much I miss her and how much I still need her. I miss how she would share counsel with me, not just because she was more mature and wise, but because she knew me. The safe place of another soul who truly knows you is something you don’t fully grasp until it’s gone. She got me, because she was my mom. If I could, I would ask her so many questions; like what it was like to raise three girls? What advice would she have about raising a son and a daughter? How would she tell me to parent the one with the strong will? What would she say about balancing time with both of my children? What advice would she give about bedtime routines, reading aloud, homeschooling, screen time, and teenagers?

Unfortunately, I still navigate the unchartered waters of motherhood very much alone in many ways. Over the years I’ve been blessed with some great mom-friends and recently a precious friend who has become like a spiritual mother to me. However, I still feel the disconnect of missing my mom. Because she’s gone, a piece of me will always be missing. There is only so much you can impart to others as memories and though I consciously make a point to tell my children about her, she is still a foggy reality to them.

As a born-again Christian, I know that there will be a day when the separation between heaven and earth will be done away with and we will be able to fellowship again with those who have gone before us. I long for that day.

In the meantime, the sting of loss still hurts. It’s in the yearly reminders of days like today, my birthday, my children’s birthdays, my anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas. The list is long. The days can be long. The separation can feel overwhelming.

As I wait to see my mom again, I choose to cling to the promise of heaven. I know that I have a heavenly hope that will not disappoint waiting in heaven for me. I have held onto Hebrews 6:19 which says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast and which enters the presence behind the veil.” This anchor draws my heart toward heaven. I am thankful that Jesus has beat death. I rely on the power of the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit who faithfully brings God’s Word to me when I am feeling alone and overwhelmed. And I continue to trust in Jesus words to His disciples, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). Though at times I may feel alone, I know that the One who holds all things together has me in His hand and He will not let me go until He has accomplished His purposes for me.

I’m longing for the day when we will meet again on that distant shore. In the meantime I persevere, holding firmly to my heavenly Anchor.

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