Where There Is Sadness, Joy
Always Generous, Gracious and Giving
Now she was gone...
I asked her, only hours after Grandma died; “How does it make you feel?” “Like an orphan”, was her answer. “But Mother”, I responded, “You have us.”
“I know honey”, she said. “But this is different.”
Carrying our second child, I was filled with life and annoyed at having to deal with death. I wanted her to tell me it wasn’t so bad. Grandma was old. Eighty years was a long full life. In a coma, Grandma hadn’t suffered. I wanted Mother to move on to lighter talk and future plans. I wanted her to ask how I was feeling today, resuming our daily ritual.
She was always the giver. I was always the taker.
Years passed and now Mother was in her eighties. She shared with me the ominous news that she had found a lump in her breast. “Mother” I said, “I am absolutely sure that it will not be malignant.”
When the report came back Mother said, “Well, you were wrong. It is malignant and the involvement is extensive”.
Now, I who never wanted to deal with anything uncomfortable was required to face the unimaginable. Mother was soon going to die. Try as I would, I couldn’t get my mind around that fact.
A friend said to me, “It’s part of life, although it’s not the best part.”
I was angry with my friend for her crude and thoughtless remark. How could she be so matter of fact in the face of my devastation?
She offered. I refused.
In the days and months to come, Mother calmly accepted the diagnosis. She was always generous, always caring, always gracious and giving.
She was ever accepting. I was ever refusing.
The following January, a friend and I vacationed for two weeks in Florida. Upon our return I learned that Mother had suffered a heart attack a few days earlier. She didn’t want me to be told because she wanted me to enjoy my vacation. I could learn of it when I returned home.
She was protecting. I was accepting.
I visited Mother in the hospital the day after returning home from vacation. As she lay in her bed she was cheerful and interested in me. “Maybe it wasn’t so serious after all”, I said. She answered “No, something very serious is going on.” She began to talk to me of happy things and times and places. Upon leaving, I said,”See you when you come home”. “Ok honey”, she said for she was due to come home after one more day in the hospital. The next day, she died.
She always gave me her love. I always accepted it.
Mother was gone. I felt smothered by a blanket of grief. She was as much a part of my life as my heart and soul. Now she was gone.
Her belongings were still here; her clothes hung in the closet and pictures she had painted hung on the wall. They were only “things”.
Weeks passed and my seemingly endless river of tears began to subside.
On a stark February night, I visited my friend who is a shepherd. It was lambing time and that required her to make frequent visits to the barn to check on the well being of the ewes.
I found her in the barn and we began to talk. Surrounded by the rumblings of her flock and the sweet smell of freshly scattered straw, the rawness of my grief began to pour out.
With gentle encouragement my friend shared her own journey through the painful loss of both parents during the preceding years. With deep compassion she shared her healed grief and I knew that with her consoling love, I too would be healed through this journey of grieving.
My friend offered. I accepted.
Next morning as I prepared our morning coffee, my glance fell upon a plaque hanging on my kitchen wall. Reading it as if for the first time, I understood the message of St.Francis of Assisi.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in the giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Thank you for the loving, giving people you have placed in my life. Help me to be the consoling, understanding, loving and giving instrument of your peace that has so graciously been given to me.
Printed May 2017 at Sunlight Press