One year ago today, in the early morning of July 5, 2016, I awoke to the sound of my dad’s voice saying the words, ‘Robin, she passed.’ I sprang from the bed and glanced across the hall where my mom lay. Her chest no longer rising. I walked to my dad standing in the hallway and embraced him. Tears of relief and utter heartbreak poured out.
Six days earlier, I had received the call I’d been waiting for, but yet also dreading. It was time to go be with my mom. When I arrived at my parent’s house and saw my mom, my heart sank. While I was prepared for her to have deteriorated since I last saw her just ten days prior, it was difficult to see my mom no longer look like my mom. As I watched her become agitated, anxious and uncomfortable, I felt as though my heart were breaking into a million pieces. There was beauty in calming her, holding her hand, looking into her glassy eyes and telling her, ‘It’s ok, Momma. Everything is going to be ok.’ As my mom struggled to rest, she would call for me in the middle of the night to comfort her. It was my joy and my honor to be by her side. In the moments sitting in the kitchen; however, writing an obituary for my mom while waiting for the date to enter after the dash, was agonizing and dispiriting.
On the eve of my mom’s passing, July 4th, I sat outside on my parent’s patio, earbuds in listening to worship music and watching the fireworks out in the distance. I was filled with peace, hope and strength, believing my Father was good, loving and Holy in the midst of a torturous time. I felt my Father tell me I needed to release my mom to Him. I quietly walked into my parent’s bedroom where my dad lay sleeping in their bed and my mom in her hospital bed. I touched my mom’s arm, stroked her leg and then said the words, ‘I release you to the Father.’ I kissed my Momma’s head one more time and went to bed.
Today’s anniversary of my mom’s passing is not the magic finish line. I’m not able to say I’m over the loss of my mom. I’m not able to say I’m done grieving. I’m not sure I ever will be. The popular phrase, ‘Time heals all wounds’, is a lie. The feelings I had in those final six days and in the moment I saw her breaths were no more, have not gone away. The relief I feel today is a relief that I have made it through this year of ‘firsts’. Something I was unsure I would be able to do. Today, my heart is broken still . . . but I can feel there are fewer pieces to be mended. While I’m learning to embrace my new relationship with my mom, I miss picking up the phone and hearing her voice. I miss her hugs. I miss the sound of her laughter. While I’m learning to embrace my new relationship with my dad, my heart hurts to see him without his best friend. While my dad is learning to have a relationship with his grandkids, my heart hurts that my kids don’t have their grandma.
Although the pain remains present and I have moments I wish the loss of my mom were not a part of my story, my feelings do not make me a failure. My feelings do not communicate that I’ve blown it . . . although I feel like it many times. The journey of this past year has drawn me deeper down the narrow road, guided by my loving and patient Father. A road that sits alongside a fresh flowing river, surrounded by flowers of vibrant colors. As majestic as the scenery is, the road is not always easy. Their have been many steep inclines revealing various pieces of my story that need excavating. Revealing the truth that the loss of my mom, while deeply painful, is only a small piece of a much larger story my Father has for me.
Jesus. Father. Holy Spirit. I give myself fully to You, to the process of my transformation and to the restoration of my heart. I ask You, Father, to fill my cup to overflowing with Your peace. I ask You to allow the memories, the pain, the hurt, all of my feelings, to flow freely like a fresh water river. In doing this, I trust You will lead me to open water filled with Your endless love, joy, life and freedom. I ask You to remove all doubt, all fear, and help me to open my heart to all You have for me. Walk closely with me, Father. I want more of You! I want more life! I want more love! I want more joy! I want more freedom!
Let us be careful we don’t embrace the pain in such a way that we forbid God to turn on the light and draw near.
Moving Mountains by John Eldredge