It's been a year.
A year since that frantic phone call from Dad in the middle of the night. I had recently assigned their home phone number a funny ring tone - it sounded like dogs barking. At 3:15 in the morning it confused me big time when the dogs started barking. All I could think was that surely it wasn't time to get up yet. I'll never forget the panic in his voice...and I never use that ring tone anymore.
A year...365 days...we've hit all the calendar 'firsts' without her...our first birthday without her, our first Christmas, Dad's first wedding anniversary alone, and now our first anniversary of her flight to heaven.
There are a few things I've learned this year. And even though I don't want this blog to be all about death (that's why I've avoided being here lately) I do feel like I need to record some things for my own benefit. I need to raise my memorials, my stones in the desert, raise my own feeble Ebenezers so that I can look back and be reminded of the faithfulness of my Lord Jesus.
I've learned that what the sweet older ladies told me at the visitation and funeral is true: I'll never get over losing my momma. I just won't. There won't be a day where there won't be a slight ache in my heart, a longing to talk to her, a need to hug her. It won't rule my life or ruin my days but I will always miss her. And it's true, I don't grieve like those who have no hope but I do grieve, in a deep way, every day.
Never in my life has my faith been tested as it has been tested this past year. I've never cried so much, questioned so much, doubted so much. But in all of it the Lord has stood fast beside me; His Word has never failed me. And I have been ashamed to see how shallow my commitment to Him has been. I've been convicted over & over in the song service at church. Hymns I sang with no real thought before have stuck in my throat as I've contemplated just what they mean...
All the way my Savior leads me; what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy, who through life has been my guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith with Him to dwell!
For I know whate're befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me, cheers each winding path I tread,
Give me grace for ev'ry trial, feeds me with the living bread.
Though my weary steps may falter, and my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me, lo! a spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me; Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised in my Father's house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal, wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages: Jesus led me all the way.
Fanny J. Crosby
I've had to think through questions like, "All the way my Savior leads me? Really? Even with all of this death...my mom, several friends of the family, my G-ma...all in a year? All of this loss? He leads me? This is right?!" And His Word comforts me with verses like "Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me," and "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." And so many other verses where I am forced to recognize, yes! it's true! I don't understand it, but Jesus does do all things well. I can trust Him.
The truth is, this year has hurt like the dickens. I've been so sad; I've been changed; I've struggled; I've been pathetic; I've been angry; I have kicked, screamed, fought, & yelled. My emotions have fought powerfully for control of my life. Some days they have won the battle. Other days I have actually yielded to the Holy Spirit & He has helped me life by truth instead of feelings. Not surprisingly, those have been the better days.
The saddest, worst days are days like today when the calendar forces me to recognize the passage of time, the milestones without Mom. And then there are the days when I see three generation photos & I remember that any child we ever have will not know their Grandma & there will be no three generation photo for us. Or when I remember that there will probably never be that confusion again of whether I'm Mary Ann or Mary Lee or Mary Lou because I'm the only one left. And my heart breaks a little again...
So I cling to another favorite verse & hymn that have come to mean so much to me over the past months...
"As for God, His way is perfect: the Word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him." Psalm 18:30
Simply trusting ev'ry day, trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small, trusting Jesus - that is all.
Brightly doth His Spirit shine into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall, trusting Jesus - that is all.
Singing if my way is clear, praying if the path be drear;
If in danger, for Him call - trusting Jesus that is all.
Trusting as the moments fly, trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate'er befall, trusting Jesus - that is all.
Edgar Page Stites
Trust, faith, hope, dependence upon my God...these are all lessons I've learned this year. And I've learned how worthy He is, how faithful He will always be. Each day He proves it to me when I have the wherewithal to get out of bed, go to work, choose joy, carry on. Because there are days left for me to live, work left for me to do, thanksgiving to give, joy to experience...this grief isn't all that's left to me. It's part of my lot but it isn't all of it. So He strengthens me to live on, trying to obey, trying to trust, trying to live the abundant life I know that the Lord wants me for me & that I know my momma would want for me, too.