Part of me is still in complete disbelief. Still wondering, “what just happened?” But the rest of me knows she really is gone.
This morning when I got up, I thought for sure the sky would part open, angels would come down singing, sprinkling glitter and confetti over the roof of my house, and a loud voice would announce, “You made it! You passed the test. You can have her back now.” But that’s not happening. This is real life. The real world. She’s not coming back.
I’ll spare you the pitiful details of my first year without her since those who know because they’ve been there don’t need to read my account, and those who haven’t been there probably won’t get it. The raw, true definition of pain that puts any other “pain” we’ve ever experienced before to shame. The grief, the shock, the anger, the sorrow, the questions, the memories, the guilt, the regrets, the loneliness, the void, and the tears. Oh, the tears.
But there is also peace, joy, kindness, courage, strength, friendship, forgiveness, and love. So much love.
I’ve decided to honor my mom today by focusing on the good. Her favorite verse to quote at the hospital was Romans 8:28
Here is some of the good that has come out of this:
- Our family has grown closer.
- In Mami’s absence, we’ve had to courageously step up to the plate when we would’ve normally just relied on her to do so.
- I’ve lost my irrational fear of death.
- People have returned to Jesus.
- My faith in God has been solidified.
- The relationship between my husband and I has gotten stronger.
- Many of the people who depended on Mami have begun to take personal responsibility.
- My dad has adopted a healthy and active lifestyle and has become an advocate, encouraging many to do the same.
- Friends have been motivated to repair their own broken relationships.
- Mothers have felt inspired to be better.
- A friend’s wounds from his own loss were healed.
- My sisters and I have been able to strengthen and encourage our grieving friends.
What I've Learned From Mami’s Death.
My mom never had to do a repentance session. She was ready. As far as she was concerned, she could’ve died the day she was diagnosed. There was no one she needed to call to apologize to. Her mind was clear and she had no regrets. She knew she had loved well and treated everyone the way they ought to be treated. She had a pure heart and a clear conscience.
Death isn’t to be feared.
Dying isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person; losing their faith is. Death is an inevitable part of everyone’s life. The only way the enemy wins if he can get us to stop believing because, in essence, that guarantees an eternal death.
You never regret being nice.
Looking back, there were many things I had to do for her contrary to what I wanted to do or thought was best. I don’t regret any of them. Being nice trumps being right.
Treat everyone with kindness.
One Sunday afternoon, as I was on my way to spend the night at the hospital, I stopped at Starbucks to grab a coffee and bite to eat. As I was approaching the door on my way out, a man who had just walked in line noticed my hands were full, so he walked back to the door and held it open for me. I don’t know why, but at that moment his kindness meant the world to me. Here I was being beaten, broken, my world torn apart and this stranger showed me gentleness. I can’t remember what he looked like, but I still remember how loved I felt. That incident made me realize our interactions with strangers may mean more than we realize and we should do our best to treat everyone with kindness. We never know how much love our courtesy can provide.
Relationships don’t die.
I feel closer to my mom now than I did before. Our relationship has continued to grow even though she isn’t here. I still think about her and remember things she said. I see things from a new perspective and as time goes on, as a mother, I understand her better. Because I know her, I know what she would say in certain situations and it almost feels like she’s speaking to me.
Let go of guilt.
I’ve been shocked to hear the guilt different people carry. It’s become so clear to me that guilt is irrational. She didn’t hold anything against any of us. She loved us unconditionally. It was her time and there was nothing we could’ve done to change that. No one is at fault and no one is to blame. Sure, we all have lessons we can take away and improve our remaining relationships, but to live under the yolk of regret isn’t what she would’ve wanted for us.
You don't need fame and fortune to leave a mark.
Mami is remembered by countless people. She wasn't forgotten by anyone she touched. She marked the lives of young men and women who are now husbands wives and parents making a difference of their own. Her life had meaning. Her relationships substance. She wasn't just someone you had a great time with, she was someone who challenged you, made you think, and caused you to make changes. I recall being perpetually mad at my mom for continually helping people who refused to learn their lessons. She would help them out of their mess, give them advice, they would ignore it and end up in a new mess, yet she would help them again and again. It drove me nuts! She sacrificed time with me and the kids for it. She gave up time for herself for it. I've had to let go of that offense. At her funeral, and as I've heard people's stories, it's become clear that she chose to do the better thing.