The Journey Of Grief
Today would have been my mother’s 86th birthday here on earth. I awoke feeling a bit sad and blue, not quite able to put my finger on the feelings bombarding me. Later that morning, I chalked it up to a little negative news from my doctor’s appointment. Only when I returned home and sat down to write, did I notice the date: November 15th. It was my mother’s birthday,
The heart remembers, even if the mind forgets--even for a minute…
I used to love to spoil my mom on her special day. Her favorite gifts were a new pair of flannel or silk pajamas or a bottle of her favorite fragrance. A beautiful sweater or a velour jogging set were also some of her prized gifts she loved to receive. An avid gardener, she relished anything related to her yard, like a new gardening book and tools, a concrete statue or water feature, as her garden was always expanding and growing under her green thumb. And as a great chef, anything related to cooking and baking delighted her heart--especially adding new dishes to her growing collection.
But mom is in Heaven now. And I miss celebrating her life here on earth.
After she passed on February 14th, 2018, I never quite had complete closure on the journey of grief. While I was busy settling her bills, making funeral plans, handling her affairs, and then preparing and listing her house to sell, I developed my own health challenges following her death… And after the sale of her home, my family was tasked with the ordeal of dividing her property and possessions and clearing out her home. I couldn’t go on that trip to Tulsa, as I was crippled with a back injury and hip problems. I couldn’t even stand up, let alone help. A big surgery and numerous treatments followed her death as I descended into my own health challenges the following year.
It’s been three years and I finally found both the courage and strength to return to Tulsa and revisit many childhood memories and favorite places my mom and I loved to visit while I was in town: restaurants and shopping malls, parks and flea markets, little shops or museums, and so many fun places. While grief and my own health challenges had held me back from making that trip for several years, in addition, due to the pandemic I had cancelled two family trips scheduled to Tulsa. But last week, I packed my car, rented a hotel, and finally faced the grief and need for closure.
Thankfully, my niece Natalie was in town for a wedding. My nephew Paul and his cousins who still live in Tulsa brought joy, light, and laughter to my heart while we shared meals and memories. And thankfully my brother Mark spent several days with me eating at some of mom’s favorite restaurants or just driving by some of her favorite places and sights. He even drove me by her old house and had to restrain me from rushing to the door in an urge to see her house and garden “just one more time.” I almost expected mom to burst through those front doors.
But mom doesn’t live there anymore, she lives in Heaven now…
I finally faced the sorrow on my trip and found some measure of closure. The long journey of grief was made light by my trip and spending time with loved ones and revisiting fond places in memory of my mom.
Late today, I stopped by the cemetery here in Little Rock where we buried her after she died here in Arkansas. I left some flowers at her graveside to say, “Happy Birthday” and “I miss you mom.” On this journey called grief, it’s come full circle again. And God is the Healer of all my sorrow…
Come to Me with your sorrow. Come to Me with your grief. I will dry every tear you shed. In fact, your tears are so precious to Me, that I collect every one of them as though they were a treasure, for your tears are indeed costly. Let Me be your Comforter and Healer on this journey called grief until you meet your loved one again in Heaven with Me. You are My beloved daughter, rest in Me.
“You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalms 56:8)