I speak of an 81st birthday and its time so short-lived three days later. Of my 46th birthday and Mothers' Day on the same day, without the mother who had me and that we normally celebrated. Of officiating at my mother's graveside service the next spring day, when the wind moved during the committal and I felt the Spirit moving all around me--us--as we laid her in the grave. The sun was shining and there were dark clouds in the west. The grass, springing up green in the joy of Eastertide, and the wind, rising and falling, hollowing and amplifying my words as I read them, dressed in white alb, black cincture, purple stole--the one I would wear as a hospital chaplain administering sacraments, and those murmured prayers for the dying, my shoes off outside the hospital room door, walking on sacred ground. And then there I was, walking on sacred ground once more.My niece had carried the processional candle, leading the casket to the grave as I intoned the words of the burial office. She held the shell-shaped dish of holy water as I circled the grave and blessed it with a sprig of rosemary from home. It was the hardest day of my life. But one I am so thankful for and would do again and again for the privilege to show my last act of devotion to she who bore me, and almost died in doing so. To forgive the imperfections and honor the sacred in her. She brought me to know Jesus at a young age and when things happened that I didn't understand, she would tell me that life is this way, and though we may not understand why things happen, God will always show us and make known to us wisdom when we are ready for it, if not now, then later in life, and all will become clear.
It has been an adjustment for me, these last two years, from the routine of the previous 15 years of gradually increasing and complicated care-giving to her passing to eternal life in Christ. Yes we were close, shared many of the same interests and opinions, and we also went many places together of mutual interest. Gardening was a passion we both shared, and I decorated her hospice room with flowers, wreaths of twigs and branches, hastily woven together and adorned with dried flowers and leaves, moss and seashells, smooth driftwood and sprinkled with ocean sand.
So, you see, my memories are very sharp, as if it had all happened yesterday. I will post this as a memorial to her and how she helped cultivate in me the person I am today, and let it be for a while until after May 9th, when the remembering and emotions are calmer and less vivid, when the pain is dulled again by time until next year. But I will be all right. I know exactly where to find her at the end of time, and its not the grave.
"A lovely Lady,
Garmented in light,
From her own beauty."
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley~