The phone rang, I answered on the first ring, it was my dad; “Sarah.” his voice sounded strangled as he choked out theses words that will forever be burned into my mind; “Sarah. SHE is gone.” My mind was racing, who could he be talking about? “What!? What are you talk- who are you talking about?” I shouted confused. “Mom. Your mom.” he squeezed out through heavy sobs. I stood stunned, my body physically jolted with adrenaline as waves of shock washed over my body. I had just texted her and she had responded, we were texting- it was impossible. My heart was pounding and my brain was racing as my mind scrambled through all my thoughts- both organs competing to process and digest the painfully unexpected news.
“Mom gone?” It felt as though a wrecking ball rammed itself into my gut. A heavy weight, sitting there in my abdomen, a full pressurized sensation moved up my throat as I let out a thick moan.
I was on the floor, sobbing, my body was heaving out tears.
My mom was no longer here and forever is gone.
My husband was still at work and my children were in bed. I whimpered into the phone; “Come here.” It seemed like seconds later and my dad was at my door. I opened it, there were no words we could say, we just fell into each others arms and cried.
Not Being Able To Grieve
The whole week after was a whirlwind. It was consumed with costly burial preparations and out of necessity had to be reduced to a funeral service managed completely by me. Between the fits of painful soul crushing grief- I managed my moms funeral. I let go of the overly expensive funeral home. The one no one could afford after spending the last year paying for outrageous medical bills and taking lots of time off of work to take care of a chronically sick person. I designed the announcement cards and had them shipped to my home. I went to the family church and asked them to host the funeral service. I sought out the least expensive cremation service. I put together a pictorial video of her best moments, it was hard to catch them all. I put aside my own grief so everyone else could have theirs.
Then I stood in my door…
I received her ashes in a urn from a dark man in a suit that smelled of a copious amount of men’s cologne. Who must have done this a hundred times since he wrapped me in a deep fatherly bear hug and sincerely groaned, “It is going to get better and you will be ok.” Then he was gone again and I was standing in my driveway sobbing again holding her ashes.
I wanted to do this part for my dad because I wanted to spare him from this part of the process.
It was one thing to lose your mother but it is quite another to lose your wife.
There were so many hard parts. I contained them all so much so that at times I couldn’t breathe.
Then it was all over and it is was Thanksgiving. I am standing in my cousins home, my cheeks warm and my eyes red from the mornings session of sorrow. My cousin’s husband is saying a Thanksgiving prayer and he acknowledges my family and our unexpected loss. He even said her name, Brenda. My throat thickened, I squeezed my eyes shut and formed a gate with my eyelids- I didn’t want to cry anymore.
“Lord, we don’t know why bad things happen…” The prayer began and then my mind wondered as I focused on slowed breathing. I just needed to get through the day. I honestly didn’t want to go but I didn’t feel like cooking and thought at least someone would feed my family.
The next three months were the hardest. I thought about her day in and day out. I cried every day at least once. I was her first child and as adults, she had become my bestfriend. Sure, she had her moments and in fact we had spent several years almost estranged because of her “moments.” Yet the one thing that always brought me back was that she loved me for me unconditionally.
I had my own “moments” too and she accepted mine so I accepted hers. After the birth of my children we slowly grew close again. Day by day we worked on our differences. She changed some of hers that were not so good, just so that I would want her around. I did too, I wanted her around. To watch her grandchildren grow up. She became the play-dough queen with golden hair. She nurtured and loved my children like a grandma should. Best of all, she deeply loved and empathized with my child who has different needs. She understood her and even if she didn’t, she lovingly tried too until she did. She became one of the few people that I trusted with my kids because I knew she knew how to care for my children the way I would.
I miss her.
I remember thinking on thanksgiving, what could I possibly be thankful for today! I was angry, how dare anyone suggest that I be thankful. It was hard to restrain myself and not give anyone what for. That was then and this is now.
Now I am thankful.
I miss the playdough queen with golden hair. The one who supported me through my early motherhood journey. The one who co-led our nature walks. I miss my bestfriend who I also called mom. I miss my mom. Today, though I am thankful for her loss. It has taught me so much. It has taught me to appreciate my mother in a way I never did.
I was so ungrateful
If you still have your mom, do not ignore her calls no matter how many times she calls or texts because one day you will not have her anymore. Reach out to her, tell her how much you love and appreciate her. Tell her how grateful you are that she is your mom. That she goes out of her way to make your favorite side dish or dessert at Thanksgiving. That she bothers to cook all day or every day for that matter. Thank her for loving your family.
Tell her you love her and love her unconditionally.
If you are calling out to God and wondering why “he lets bad things happen.” I never questioned him because I already knew. I believe in him and know that he gave us all free will. A free will that allows us all a choice that ultimately lead to my mother’s unexpected and early demise. This wasn’t Gods fault but one that stemmed from a choice that was made in the Garden of Eden a long time ago. A time when free will was introduced to the world and the course of mankind forever changed. I am thankful for my free will because it has given me the conscious decision to choose him.
I am thankful for my mother who above all else, raised me to know and fear the Lord. Who taught me about Christ and breadcrumb by breadcrumb, led me to my salvation.
I am thankful for a mother who taught me to know this life here on earth is only temporary and to treat each day as such. I am thankful that I was taught to be gracious, humble, and hardworking.
One thing I have learned is that just like everyone is different, everyone grieves differently. Grief is not depression, it is mourning the loss of someone you love dear and miss greatly. It is ok to grieve in your own way and on your own timetable. It is ok to even tell people that you need to grieve. That you need this time, however long that it is, to just cry.
Even though I miss her still every day, I am grateful for my grief. It has made me so weak that all I could do is lean on God. Then I began to rebuild the broken parts of me and in his strength I found myself. I found a women who is so full of empathy, love, and compassion for others. I know how short our days on earth are, my mother has taught me that. For that reason, I will boldly and unapologetically proclaim that Jesus is Lord and Savior. Whomever shall believe in him will be given everlasting life.
If you find yourself deep in grief today, I am sorry. I will not offer my prayers or hope because these days those words alone seem to turn people off. I will tell you that grief is like a stormy sea. You will feel like a person without a life raft in that stormy sea. The waves will wash over you and it will feel like you are drowning. Then slowly the waves will ease up and your head will be able to stay above the waters. There will be so many options for “life rafts” some that can lead you into more dangerous waters but there is only one that will lead you to still and calm waters. God will extend his hand to you, and if you let him be your life raft, you will forever find peace in Christ.