There was a night four and a half years ago when my mom sat down and wrote about death, and Heaven, and her thoughts on it all. Yesterday afternoon, standing in her bedroom, going through her things, I found those words, and they were exactly what I needed from her. She just wasn’t there to say them to me.
My mom wrote often throughout her life, and she passed on to me the importance of writing when you had too much weighing on your mind to keep the thoughts straight. Writing was her solace, especially as she faced cancer, and treatment, and the many trials that made her come face to face with her own mortality.
She was the type of person who would dive in with both feet to face her fears, and learn from her experiences, and thankfully share the wisdom that resulted with her family. I learned a lot from her, but especially in the last years of her life. I even learned how to grieve for her.
Going through the things that made up someone’s life and deciding what stays and goes is very different than I expected. On one hand it is obviously heart-breaking. On the other it is comforting, leaving you crying one minute and laughing the next. There is something very freeing in deciding what truly reminds you of someone you love, and what just reminds you of the void they left. It’s the one thing in grieving that has been controllable.
I can get so overcome by feeling like my mom is a million miles away, and gone forever. I have been struggling a great deal with that lately. Yesterday I got the chance to remember all the little things about her that made her my mom, and the person she was above and beyond my mom. The person who kept every receipt, for years, in case she needed them. The person who had pictures of her children and grandchildren covering nearly every surface. The woman who taught herself to sew, and had things she had started making for my daughters, never thinking they would remain unfinished. She was the woman who kept birthday cards from my brother and I from when we were small children, and who had her bucket list written on a sticky note. And she was the woman who wrote things that were both gut-wrenching and absolutely hilarious about everything cancer was doing in her life.
I can’t figure out what to call the emotion that results from my now knowing the answers to the questions she posed in her writing. She wondered if cancer would take her life. She wondered if it would be something else. And she wondered when her life on Earth would end. I now know those answers.
But my mom wrote about Heaven too. She wrote hopeful, deeply spiritual things. Reading her words felt like talking with her again. And those words comforted me in the ways I have needed so much lately, and in a way that only she could. I haven’t learned yet what God’s plan is for my mom leaving this world so much sooner than I would have ever expected, but I know at the very least, that there was a plan in my mom’s writing on a night over four years ago. It was a small comfort from her, even if she never expected it to be. So I can be grateful for that.