Fifty-six

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Grief has never looked the way I thought it would. When my mom first died, I expected grief to be an overwhelming sense of sadness. I was sad, sure, but more than anything, grief had me feeling “weird,” for lack of a better description. Life was still going on, quite normally for most people, but my life was changed. I had a two month old baby to care for and my boys were 5 and 2. I couldn’t seem to fit in grieving while there were so many people to take care of and responsibilities to uphold. I remember trying to pack my son’s lunch one day and being completely frozen in indecision. “I’ve got a sandwich in there, and chips, but oh my word, what else am I supposed to pack? How do I pack a lunch?!”

May is a month of grieving for me. Between Mother’s Day last weekend and the anniversary of Mom’s death coming up on May 20th, it’s just one reminder after another that she’s gone. Then school lets out and summer begins and the ache continues, because Mom was a teacher who LOVED the summertime with her grandkids.

True to form, grief doesn’t look familiar to me this year. This year, it looks like anger.

I’m angry that she’s gone. I’m angry that all I have left are memories, with no new ones to be made. I’m angry that this is the story God is writing. I’m angry that there are still expectations on me to do normal things, like get out of bed and get my boys to school and make sure they do homework and finish projects and FEEDING MY PEOPLE ALL THE TIME. Why are they always hungry?

It’s easy to romanticize things about the dead. It’s easy to tell myself that I would have a better relationship with my mom if she was still alive. I can envision heart to heart conversations about raising a girl and insecurities and fears and doubts as a mother. In reality, that wasn’t what our relationship was like at all. Mom was a fiercely private person. We connected mostly through sarcasm. I can also allow myself to believe that if she was still here, life wouldn’t be so stressful. I would have more date nights with my husband, or more kid-free days, or extra spending money because she was always generous. And while some of that may be true, it’s also true that my heart issues would be the same, regardless of my circumstances.

If my story was different, and my mom was alive, I would still struggle with control and strength and independence. I would still have an unhealthy desire to be parented perfectly. I would still fret and worry and stress about money. I would still long to be Jesus for my kids and protect them from any and every hurt.

If this wasn’t my story, I would have something else to be angry with God about. There would be some other detail that I thought he didn’t quite get right.

I don’t have a shiny happy ending to this story, or even this post. This is just me, right where I am, with my hands and heart open to the work that God is doing.

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