I think maybe the anger has come. You know~the five stages of grief and all. I’m neck-deep in grief and feel like hitting someone. My mom would nervously giggle about me saying that, so I will tone it down for her sake, but…I think she knows how I feel. She lost her parents when she was 36 and 37. I know she was never the same after that and I know I never will be either.
All the sweet messages and notes and flowers~it has truly been comforting to feel the love and support of our loved ones during this time. I don’t know what we would have done without it. As it is, we’re clinging to each other desperately, and then knowing people are praying for us through it…it is the only way we can make it.
But then there are the others…oh the things people say.
Back in May, Mother’s Day to be exact, the day before my mom had surgery for breast cancer…a lady came up to my mom’s window as we sat in the church parking lot.
“I heard about the cancer,” she said with a shake to her head. “I tell you what, everyone has been so sick. I’ve had this cold for weeks! Just can’t shake it. Have never been so sick in all my life…” And on and on she went about her various ailments.
My mom nodded her head and smiled sweetly, not trying to add or take away from the conversation, just listening. She was the best listener. But besides that, it really can be hard to get a word in edgewise with some people.
When the lady finally moved on, I looked at my mom in disbelief. She wasn’t going to say anything. So I said it. “Can’t people give you one day? One minute even? Without talking about their stuff? You have cancer!” I went on a bit more and she laughed about it.
She was so calm about cancer that I had to sort of calm down about it too, but I wanted everyone to at least acknowledge what she was going through and not just feel the need to talk about their Aunt So-and-So’s sickness in that moment. Or their own bout with cancer. Or the time their dog had cancer…
Fast forward to this past week. Shock. We’re stunned because my mom survived breast cancer. It was pneumonia that took her. We never dreamed we would lose her right now.
Standing by her casket, the same lady came up to me. The Cold For Weeks Lady. I tried not to cringe, but to treat her kindly as my mama taught me to always, always do.
“I just can’t believe it about your mother.” She shook her head. “It has been an awful week. I’ve had two deaths in the past few days! One was a guy I went to high school with and the next day your mother!” She shook her head again. “I have to go to another visitation after this!” She looked at me, like, can you believe how busy I am?
And again, I wished for just one day that my mom could have it be about her. Where we could talk about her beauty and her unending patience and loyalty, her passion for talking about the Lord, the all-encompassing way she loved, her quiet way that never asked to be the center of attention, but her gracefulness that still captured it…her quick humor, her table that was always set to perfection, the way she had OCD with her closets, the light in her eyes when she talked about her grandchildren, the way she always knew the alto part, the pink tinge in her cheeks and her red lips…her smile.
She loved like no other.
I know no one will ever love me like she did, and that is such a huge loss. It was more than her being my mother~I’ve met plenty of mothers who didn’t really want to know all about their children. She wanted to know everything and felt everything I felt and then some. I tried to protect her from some of the knowing, because I knew how deeply she carried my burdens.
There just aren’t many people in the world like that. There was an art to her caring~a precision to it that was exact and always on point. It came naturally to her and she exhibited it to the very end.
If I run into Another Visitation Lady ever again, I cannot be held responsible; however, most likely, I will smile sweetly and nod. And hopefully I can have a good laugh about it all with my mama one day.