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The strains of the song fill our home and send Caleb dancing as he runs on growing feet. He smiles and laughs, “It’s the song from Grammie’s funeral!” All the joy that once crowded his features as he tucked himself into the folds of her lap, securely nestled and surely loved, animate his bright eyes. But his sister has become a fetal mound on the couch, head covered by hands. I approach quietly, stroke her back with gentle fingertips. She moves to peek out at me, peeling back a cover to reveal her pain. “It’s the song from Grammie’s funeral.” I nod in understanding as I pray for wisdom. She lets me welcome her into my lap and we rock and cry together, allowing the soothing motion I learned first from the woman who gave me life to calm us.
“It’s okay to be sad,” I whisper.
“I know,” her voice is blurred by pain, “and I know she’s in heaven. But it hurts so much. I just miss her, you know?”
Tears are streaming down my face and I know how red I am growing, but I won’t mask it. I have made this promise to my God and to myself. I will be real in my grief. I will not ice over, freeze over, I will allow myself to feel, to process this loss in the open in order to help my children, in order to help the women I minister to and with. I have no mourners coming to our house and I am not wearing sackcloth or ashes, but I will mourn.
But it hurts so much. And then sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it is far away, and my mother seems like a distant memory even though her death was a mere two months ago. I can feel myself tempted by the numbness to allow myself to pretend I can “shake it off” and move on. The child in my lap requires honesty, though.
“It doesn’t always help to think of her in heaven. I’m glad she’s there, but sometimes I wish she was still with us here, too.”
“I miss her.”
“I do, too.” But I don’t want to think about it, I want to keep walking, keep pushing forward, doing the things she and I discussed, planned and dreamed. I don’t want to think about the fact that I can’t talk to her about them anymore, that I can’t call to update her, that I can’t seek her advice and wisdom, that I can’t thank her again and again for the love and the support she supplied with grace.
Caleb is dancing, Sydney is crying and I am somewhere in between rejoicing and weeping. I am longing, I am sighing. Perhaps my oldest daughter, Katie, and I mourn similarly. She is quietly taking it in, hugging, then retreating. I will keep holding her when she lets me, I know she isn’t ready to talk about it, yet.
I snuggle with Sydney and think of the arms that hold me even now. The arms of my Father reach around me and prop me up as I start to fall. How hard this has been, but how wonderful, too, to know how close He is . . . how good is His presence!
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