In memory of my husband’s mother who died of ovarian cancer when she was 40. I see her every day in him, so I know she was beautiful. The mother-in-law I never had, the grandmother my children never knew.
I never knew you well. I was 16 and you were dying of cancer, but I don’t remember knowing that. And I didn’t understand that you were in the process of letting go.
I liked your son. He was cute and he made me laugh. He was walking in truth and I felt a strong pull to walk along with him. God was working in my heart and I was letting go of some things myself. I think now how hard it must have been for him to leave you that year to go to college. He did it for you. He’s told me many times how he wanted to enlist in the Army but you wanted him to go to college. So off he went.
While he was away, you invited me to your house to show me his childhood pictures. We laughed over cute photos and you shared memories. I’m sorry that I was distracted and shallow, as teenagers are. I’m sorry that I didn’t understand what you were trying to do. I wish now that I had looked you in the eyes and promised you I would take care of him. I wish I had asked more questions and written things down. I wish I had hugged you and told you it would be alright. I wish I had encouraged you with God’s words. But I was 16 and I didn’t know he was my forever love. I didn’t know you’d be gone before spring.
Maybe you knew something on that cold winter day. Maybe you were handing me a gift. Maybe you were saying good-bye.
I wonder when you knew, when you understood that you would be leaving your husband and your children. I wonder how you prepared for that, how you used your grief to make the days count. I wonder how your belief in God and His promises helped you in those final days and how your desperate longing for this life turned into joyful anticipation for heaven.
He still misses you. On the anniversaries of your birth and death, he is far away, remembering. There is a heart string, taut, that only memories of you can pull.
As we approach this Mother’s Day, I want to rise up and call you blessed. I want to say thank you for the hard work of mothering done in the midst of fear and pain. I want to say thank you for staying faithful and full of belief to the end.
I want to say thank you for the beautiful heritage of faith. It follows you still.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. Her children rise up and call her blessed. (Proverbs 31:25,28)