Today’s the day I’ve been dreading for the last month or so. As it approached, I could feel my body reacting, telling me that something was wrong, almost as if I was bracing for impact as my car raced forward towards some immovable obstacle.
How’s it been 10 years since we lost you? A decade. A lifetime.
I, unfortunately, can remember the day all too clearly. I wish I couldn’t. Family was around, and that was a good thing. Dad was lost in his own head, still coming to grips with the fact that he had not only lost the home of thirty-six years that he had known and the career of forty plus years he knew, but was now on the brink of losing the wife and companion of more than forty years as well.
I hadn’t seen your eyes since you had last opened them to look upon me one last time. I had just had my hair cut, removing that ponytail that you had wished I’d never grown. I knew that giving you this one last thing was something that I had to do. It’s never grown back, by the way. Well, I haven’t tried, but I think those days are long over. I guess they were fun while they lasted.
What’s happened since you left? Well, your only granddaughter is on the brink of turning ten years old herself. We named her after you. She has your name as one of her middle names. To be honest, she was the one bright thing in that year. Pretty much everything else sucked. In fact, had it not been for her birth, I might just have wiped 2011 off of my radar, similar to what happened with 2020.
Yes, 2020 was an interesting year. There were countless times I wished you and Dad were still here over the years, but that thought never once occurred to me during 2020. A global pandemic hit. Friends and families were divided. A health crisis became political and continues to be so. Decisions were made and some were made for us. The pandemic continues on and everyone has become a scientist or an expert thanks to our media. While we’ve had family impacted by it, we are grateful that they weren’t hit nearly as hard as so many throughout the country and the world. I’m just grateful that you and Dad never had to face the risks and journey through it.
Your grandsons continue to grow. D has shot up like a weed and he would surely dwarf you if you were here. He still remains quiet and sweet. Sometimes when I look him in the eyes, I can still see that little boy, the one who was the apple of his grandma’s eye. He’s the one who remembers you the most. He has a picture of you and him and a picture of Dad and him on a bulletin board in his room.
We celebrated twenty years of marriage this year. We were celebrating ten years just a month before you left. Just like that celebration felt a little too self-indulging, so this year feels similar as it’s been such a hard year for so many people.
I often wonder what you’re doing. What was it like to see Jesus face to face? What was the reunion like when you saw your mother? Your father? Your grandparents and others? How does time pass, or is there even such a thing as time anymore? What happens when someone new joins your ranks? I’ve wondered what kind of trouble you and Bonnie have gotten into there, and wondered if her house is close to yours.
Today, we’ll drive through our old hometown, the place where you lived for more than half of your life. We’ll stop to see the tree we planted after you left. We may drive by the old house, the old church, and whatever other haunts I feel led to show the kids. As we drive from place to place, I’ll imagine you riding in the van with us. It will probably be quieter if I don’t imagine Dad is there too. We’ll think about all the times that we had together and long for when we’ll see you again.
I miss you just as much today as I did that hot July day ten years ago. As I think about that day, I remember T sliding up beside me, not quite three years old, resting himself against me and asking me if I was sad mere minutes after you had slipped away.
The kids hear about you often. How could I not tell the stories, the experiences that we had? You and Dad are mentioned in sermons regularly, maybe too often for some, but you are part of who I am, embedded deep within me. Removing those memories would remove a part of me that needs to continue on living.
Thank you for how you lived. Thank you for the dignity with which you died. I have thought often about those verses that you sat on your bedside table. God has spoken to me so many times through those verses and they’ve become almost a mission to me.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
I am grateful for the values and beliefs that you instilled in me. I am grateful for the faith that you passed on, in word and in deed. I’m thankful for all those prayers that we prayed together, in person or on the phone.
I think you’d be proud of me if you were here. I’m sure we’d have plenty to disagree on as well, but that’s the nature of mothers and sons, isn’t it? We can’t agree on everything, and that’s all right. I’ve started something new and I’ve seen God carry my family in much the same way that he carried you, Dad, me, and Steve all those years. His faithfulness reaches to the skies, just like the psalmist wrote.
As I end these thoughts and this letter, my heart still aches, but that ache is for me and all of us who are still here. I know that you wouldn’t look back for a second. What you’re experiencing now is far greater than any of us could ask, think, or imagine. I’ll join you one day, but until then, I’ll continue to live with this hole in my heart. I’ll live for our Savior and do my best to let others know of the hope that I have found in Jesus, a hope that cuts through the pain and difficulty of life and reminds me of something far greater than myself.
I love you, Mom. I’ll see you again!