One year ago my sister and I met and secretively made our way westward to Ohio. Along the way we called Mom from Kris’s phone. Via speakerphone we began taking turns talking to her. At first she couldn’t figure out why she was hearing both of our voices and was a little confused. Why were we together when we live 3 hours apart? Finally we told her we were on our way to her house to celebrate Mother’s Day and her 65th birthday which, last year, fell on the same day. She was delighted!
Mom was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and last April discovered that it had metastasized. Because of the cancer in her chest cavity there was fluid buildup on her lungs and breathing was difficult at times. Since these birthday-Mother’s Days only come every few years, we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss our opportunity to celebrate with Mom. And in another year, well, we just didn’t know if Mom would be here.
Turns out we were right. 2012 was our last year to celebrate with Mom. Nineteen days before Mother’s Day and 20 days before her 66th birthday, Jesus came and ushered Mom into the Next Kingdom.
So Mother’s Day this year feels just a little strange. Mom isn’t here to love on or send flowers to or even call. Although I did have a dream last night that I could still text her. It was pretty cool. She even texted back. From Heaven. Then I woke up.
I’m already planning ahead for Mother’s Day this year. I have several good cries already scheduled. Cause I know it will happen. There’s just an empty place when I think about Mom.
In reality, I feel a little cheated. To my way of thinking, sixty-five was way too young to die. She should still be here. For Dad. For her kids. For her grandchildren. For the women who loved her listening ear and who needed her wisdom.
But then I remember the evening I was praying for her several months ago. My spirit was crying out to Jesus on her behalf. I began, “Jesus, if you don’t come and heal Mom. . .” Immediately David’s words came: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
And then this thought from the heart of God: He wants my Mama.
Please don’t hear that lightly. Hear it with intensity. He WANTS my Mama. God deeply desires her. He wants her in His kingdom.
It was on that night that I knew I needn’t ask for her healing in this lifetime. I knew that God Himself wanted her. Intensely. And so I began asking God, with tears, that His timing would be perfect for her homegoing.
And He answered so beautifully. She ran to meet Him in her sleep, just like she’d asked Dad to pray for. For her, the Next Kingdom is reality.
So this Mother’s Day, in between my scheduled cries, I’ll be looking around and forward. Cause I’m a mother too. And Mom wouldn’t want me to cry too much. She’d want me to celebrate motherhood. My own motherhood. The motherhood of the women I love. My daughters.
Thursday afternoon my girls treated me (and themselves!) to pedicures!! We’ve done things like this with my mom and sister and in other configurations with friends, but never before just us four. It was fun and beautifying and together. I’m choosing to look around.
When we got home we all went for a walk together and then decided to have an impromptu tea. Fresh sprigs of spearmint tea and bags of rose tea. Papaya. Lemon cake in tiny slices. Cucumber sandwiches. Apple and pear slices.
We talked. We laughed. We sipped tea. We just enjoyed together.
As we sat and sipped I suddenly began to really see the dishes in front of me. A white embossed teapot from sister many Christmases ago. Tea cups and saucers, once my grandmothers, given to me by my own mother. A pink plate with a daisy and “Life is good” from my friend Heidi. A simple white plate from Danelle. Delicate Belleek china cream and sugar bowl covered with tiny springs of green clover, carried home from Ireland for me with love from Esther, one of my other sisters. Another white teapot, a gift to Elsa from Nana.
Dishes that remind me of women I love. Some here, others already in the Next Kingdom. My heart was warm. My eyes were wet. It was a little looking back and a lot looking around and forward.
Yes, on Mother’s Day I’ll probably look back a little. I won’t be able to keep from it. But mostly I want to look around and forward.
I want to mostly just look around. I’ll see the man I sometimes call Hobbit: strong, caring, adventurous, loving me so well. I’ll see three ladies: the one who loves to be busy constantly and whose sketches amaze, the one who cares for all things hurting and marches to her own drumbeat, the one who is my shadow some days and other days has to be called away from her books. I’ll see two boys: the one we call the Energizer Bunny who hunts and the one we call Farmer who helps load pigs. This is what is around. And it’s full of goodness and love.
It’s ok if you look back a little this Mother’s Day, but don’t forget to also look around. Do a lot of looking around. And linger a little. Soak a little. It’s good.