Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Remembering Mom - Autumn, for the Kids

Remembering Mom

It’s that time of year again when my thoughts of Mom have been pressing and heavy. I think about Mom many times every single day, but these first three months of the year are thick with more difficult memories from her sickness, ultimately culminating to March 3rd, 2008 when she, as Dad said in his last post, passed from death to life. I really wanted to do something to honor Mom’s memory this year so I asked Dad awhile ago if I could post something on her blog. And now that it’s time to post, I have serious writer’s block.

I don’t have a lot of theology or wisdom to impart, but I just wanted to take some time and intentionally remember Mom. The idea came to me on her birthday last month when I was reading some Facebook comments. Our dear family friend, Sherri Russell, posted a comment on Aunt Terri’s page simply saying, “I love her and miss her too.” It reminded me again how many countless people out there, from so many places of our lives, love and miss Mom. What a tremendous impact she made on so many lives in her short 53 years on Earth. We were reminded of that in droves when she was sick. The meals, visits, cards, housecleaning, yard work, uplifting videos, music, scrapbooks and gifts poured in nonstop for over a year. It was an amazing testimony of the body of Christ in motion. Can I say THANK YOU again on behalf of the whole family, including Mom? We were all absolutely overwhelmed by your love and generosity.

I really miss Mom’s smiling, beautiful face. She loved Jesus with all her heart and it radiated through her. I love to listen to old hymns now because they remind me of Mom’s sweet voice singing harmonies in the pew beside us at Fellowship Baptist. I think of her standing there with her strong voice, lovingly shepherding her little flock of Liz, Michael and me, making sure we were growing up in God’s Word. She was a beautiful example of Deuteronomy 6: 6-8, faithfully growing in love and service to the Lord and teaching those values to her children.

One of Mom’s favorite verses that she shared with me was from Isaiah 30:15, “…In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength…” Mom really exuded these qualities of quietness and confidence. Liz reminded me one time that she almost always had a smile on her face – both when she was healthy and sick. She had a genuine little laugh that would come out in conversations and I miss that laugh. She was shy and insecure but I’m so proud of her for boldly stepping out and serving and counseling so many. Maybe that’s why she liked that verse…she was quiet, but she found her confidence in Christ.

She was a great Mom and I appreciate so many things about her. I love that she modeled the importance of an education by going back to college and graduating in her thirties. She gave us a love for reading, she taught us the value of true nutrition long before it was popular, and she gave us a lot of freedom in letting us run wild all over TVR property.

Mom’s absence from this earth is really hard for me in two ways. One, because I was just developing a true “friendship” with her as an adult. We had finally moved past those difficult teenage years, accepted each other as individuals and settled into a nice groove. I’m sad that we weren’t able to further develop that relationship. The other really tough thing is really missing her guidance and support now that I am a mom to a sweet and sassy 19-month old who is brimming with life and energy and is just so lovable! Mom loved, loved, loved her grandchildren Laurel, Judge and Willow. And now three years later she has three more in Alia, Audrey, and little Miles on the way. It’s sad for me to know that the kids are missing the love of their Nina in this lifetime. I know she would give really great advice on a lot of the questions that I have. She was very wise, well-read and imparted her knowledge is such a gentle way.

I miss Mom every single day. Walking through the difficult year of her sickness and then seeing her die changed me in so many ways. I am a stronger, less fearful, more patient and loving person after experiencing the intensity of caregiving. I always feared sickness…and then she got sick…and died…the very worst thing I could imagine! But you know what? It’s okay. I’m still trying to accept that. It’s okay. It’s more than okay. She finished her race (Hebrews 12:1). The thing that’s tough is that I am still running mine and still trying to come to terms with the fact that more sickness and more death will come; it is guaranteed. I’ll admit that, along with the fear I’ve cast to the side, sometimes it feels like I’ve just shouldered different fears of losing someone else close to me, or myself dying while my daughter is still young.

These are just aftereffects of the grief, I suppose, but I am dealing with them. In fact, even as I write this, I’ve thought about Hebrews 12 that I just referenced. It gives a really good answer for this fear that still paralyzes me from time to time. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” I guess it’s full circle back to what I said at the beginning – that Mom absolutely loved Jesus. She had such a firm foundation in His Word and His love, that she was not shaken when she was given a diagnosis of an aggressive brain tumor. Like any human, she had her moments of fear and weakness. But she kept circling back to Jesus. That is awesome and I’m so proud of her and the example she set.

I think I’ve officially written more than what is considered acceptable for a ‘blog,’ but I did want to mention one more thing before I close this out. While it has been hard to be a young mom and not have my mom around, God really does give more grace. I want to give a big hug to my amazing husband, Brian who shepherds our family with grace, love and a lot of fun; and to so many women who have stepped in to fill a role: my dear friend and mother-in-law, Debbie; my new stepmom, Alison (Who, by the way, is just as incredible as Dad describes in his posts. What a tremendous blessing she and her kids, Jonathan and Sarala, are to our family!); my beautiful sisters, Liz and Laura; my steadfast grandmas, Virginia and Patricia; my godly aunts and cousins, and so many other amazing women in my life who have loved me through some really tough times. I love you all so much.

And by the way, since I’ve poached this space, I want to say that all of these godly characteristics of Mom are equally true of our Dad. We are so incredibly blessed to have grown up in a household that had a firm foundation in God’s Word. Thank you, Dad, for being a rock as we walked through this darkest valley; for always pointing us to Jesus and for being equal parts leader, mentor and friend to us now!

Thanks for taking the time to visit and hear where I am today (every day is different) after three years of missing Mom on this earth. God bless you all as you also reflect on your own special memories of her on this day!