I realized recently that one of the things my mom taught me was something she didn’t even realize. She taught me how to move forward after losing her. This past summer she went to be with Jesus and now I am facing my first Christmas and her birthday all in the same week without her. But I realized that she left me with all the tools I need to get through this and move forward, because I watched her do it when she lost her mom many years ago. I was 10 years old when my grandma died. It wasn’t unexpected, she had been sick with cancer for a year or so, but you can never really prepare for the day you get the call that someone has passed away. I remember the phone ringing and I just knew she had passed. My grandma and I were very close. I was the only granddaughter and much younger than my cousins. She and I were also close because we were both adopted. I loved her dearly and looked up to her because she was a strong woman of faith. She was widowed with three young kids and put herself through nursing school by taking in other people’s laundry and ironing. She also rented out the bedrooms in her house while she and her three kids slept in one small room together. They were very poor but she got her nursing training and worked to make a good life for herself and her kids. She told me stories of how God provided in those years for her and it increased my faith.
The day my mom got the call, she came to tell me what I already knew, that grandma had passed. We hugged each other and cried. She taught me it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to not be okay when someone you love passes away. A few weeks earlier I saw her out in the backyard crying and screaming at God. Begging Him to take my grandma so she wouldn’t suffer any longer. I had the same experience with my mother’s passing and I knew it was okay because I saw her do it with my grandma. It’s okay to be angry and sad at the same time. It’s okay to have a fierce conversation with God about your circumstances. God can handle it.
We traveled to Miami where my mom was from for my grandma’s funeral. Mom walked through the drama of picking out all the things necessary for a funeral all the while I watched her be strong, and I knew she was going to be okay. She was sad and would be sad for a while, but with time she would be okay.
Years later she told me that she still had the urge to call her mom each time she came home from a trip, which she did while my grandmother was alive. She told me she missed her mom every day, even though she had been gone for years. She taught me it was okay to miss her and that grief is not something you get passed, but something you learn to live with for the rest of your life. She taught me I would always miss her, and that was okay.
So, today as I work through my first Christmas and I don’t feel all that Merry, I know that it’s okay to be sad and happy at the same time. It’s okay to miss her, and I will always miss her. It’s okay to not be okay today, but eventually it will get better. I know I will get through this as she did because I come from a long line of strong women, whose faith in God sustains them. I am forever grateful that she taught me these things and I know that today, and in the days to come, I am teaching my kids how to move forward when I am called to glory someday.