For many this day will mark the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. For even more, it will just be the dreaded tax day. For my family and me, it marks one year without our mom.
Truth be told, the past few weeks have been marked with "anniversaries" of memories that are both sweet and still difficult to process. April 8 was the last day I spent time with my mom. I left her hospital room that day after she had fallen asleep stroking my hair as I sat by her bed. I thought I had months ahead of me to spend needed time with her sharing laughs, memories, regrets, tears, and lots of apologies, so I didn't even wake her when I left. I kissed her and got on a plane.
April 14 was the last time I heard her voice as she begged to talk to me in the background as my step-dad updated me while laughingly encouraging her to rest so we could talk later. We never got that chance. That night I could barely sleep. I was restless and felt a tugging in my spirit that something wasn't right. But the phone didn't ring, and at 4 in the morning I briefly considered calling to make sure everything was okay, but convinced myself I would just wake them up. Yet just a few ours later on the crisp, beautiful sunny morning of April 15, the call did come. The night had held the struggle my spirit felt. With the help of my husband and a friend who should be certified in the art of packing, I boarded a plane and frantically traveled 533 miles only to come up 45 miles short of getting to hold her hand and tell her how much I love her one last time. I desperately wanted to be with her the moment she would have stepped into the presence of Jesus. Mere minutes after she passed, one brother drove me to the front of the hospital where our other brothers waited to huddle together in a grief we knew only we understood and shared, not because others haven't walked this path, but because this time it was our mom, our history, and our new future thrust on us unprepared.
It's been a year with a dull ache which will sharpen unexpectedly at a scent, a memory, an urge to call her, or when I say or do something that, despite my best efforts, is so her. My mom was very smart, very loving, and very funny. Like me, she was also fallible and we experienced more than our fair share of aching divides, but she was unquestionably the safety net every child needs, well into adulthood. I miss her like I never dreamed possible and I have come to terms with the vulnerable uncertainty of forging new paths without her propping me up simply by just being alive.
All of that said, and volumes more unsaid, in this first year without her she has taught me a lesson greater than the multitude of lessons she taught me here: her life was 72 years tacked onto the beginning of forever, a prelude to eternity. My life -- your life -- is, too. This time here is the orchestra warming up. Batting practice. Study time.
I know she is in the presence of God, and as much as I'm tempted to imagine her casually picnicking on a red-checkered cloth with her parents, sisters, friends and family, I believe she is far busier than that. Like those same friends and family, I believe she is busy about the work of the Kingdom. She is fully living into her calling, the same one given her before the foundations of the earth were ever laid (Ephesians 1). I don't understand it all in a doctrinal sense, but somewhere in my spirit I sense that those before us are preparing for great and mighty things. They are warring, interceding, praying, preparing. For them, despite all their earthly joys and triumphs, the life they were created to live has finally begun. Their curtains haven't come down, they have gone up.
That leaves me with a greater awareness of how I'll spend my own prelude to eternity. Choices prepare us, not only for next week and next year, but for our life in forever.
So thank you, Mom! I miss you here, and am thrilled for your there. I know you are rockin' your Kingdom duties with a fresh-from-the-cleaners white robe, red nails, great shoes, and good hair (spiritually speaking, of course!). I love you, still more than all the snowflakes.