So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Three and a half weeks ago on a Saturday morning, I sat sobbing in the bathroom, the heavy weight of grief having propelled by body down onto the closed toilet lid. I had slept in, and awoke to news I knew was coming but was still 100% unprepared for.

My sobs were so loud that my husband heard and came quickly to my side.

“Jenny, what’s wrong? What happened?” He had to ask repeatedly because I couldn’t talk, couldn’t get my breath, couldn’t form a word. And I was mad, in that moment. Grief collided with anger and though I couldn’t speak, I could think, and I thought, “Why don’t you KNOW? Why are you asking me? Why are you going to make me say it??”

Because I didn’t want to say it. Then it would surely be real.

Finally I choked out, “E’s gone,” and I collapsed sobbing into his arms.

E is my friend Elizabeth. I knew she was on hospice, but thought maybe she had a week left. I wasn’t prepared to wake up that day and find out she had passed from this earth and into Jesus’ arms the night before. Ovarian cancer had hastened her exit, eight years after it first entered her life. She was cancer free for over six years (oh it hurts to say it) before it came back. Five years is generally considered cured, safe.

grieving
E and me years ago, before cancer

Friends, I never for one minute believed this would be the end of E’s earthly story. I guess that’s why it was a shock even though I knew the end was near. She was only 46 years old and leaves behind a husband and three kids: 13, 11, and 11. 

I will never understand.

***

Five days later I sat, tear-streaked face once again, in a church pew with a broken heart, at a funeral. But it wasn’t E’s. There’s another beloved Elizabeth in my life, my brother’s wife, and I adore her. Her wonderful, sweet father passed away from cancer as well, just three hours before my E did. It seems so cruel to have lost them both the same night. And so that Saturday morning when I sat sobbing on the toilet, it was for my sister-in-law’s family as well. I love them very much, and her dad, Jim’s loss is so enormous, I cannot begin to describe it. Even though we have the hope of heaven, I cannot convey to you how incredibly sad his funeral was. It is so beyond heartbreaking that he is not here for the wife, kids, and grandkids he adored.

I cried through the whole thing, but especially as my 21-year-old nephew Charles spoke and communicated to us through tears how amazing Jim was as a grandfather. While he was talking, he told a story of how he’d totally broken down when he told one of his college buddies that his grandfather was dying. “I completely lost it,” he said.

grieving

And that’s when his friend said something amazing…something that brought my grief into focus. It did not dispel it, but it gave it a purpose beyond mourning, you could say.

As Charles poured and sobbed his heart out, in his friend’s dorm room, his buddy listened carefully. And then, he said something shocking:

“Wow, I’m really happy for you.”

As Charles explained it, he looked at his friend like “HUH? What are you talking about, Bro??”

And this college kid, wise beyond his years, said something to the effect of, “If you love your grandfather enough that you are breaking down in front of me, you must have a really amazing grandfather. I’m so happy for you, that you have such a great, caring grandpa in your life that makes you feel this strongly about losing him.”

Oh, how it hurts. But dangit if I’m not happy for him, too.

***

Fast forward another four days (though I promise you, they did not feel fast at all), and I’m sitting in the same church, at E’s funeral. I held the program in my hands, and as I read each line, I thought, “Nope, I don’t wanna see that. I don’t want to hear that person speak. I don’t want to listen to that person sing. I want to leave. I do NOT want to be here.”

Friends, I have never in my life had to fight the urge to RUN so hard as I did in those moments. Clutching my husband’s arm, praying for the strength to stay in my seat, while glancing over my shoulder at the door. It’s not that I didn’t want to honor E’s life…it’s that I didn’t want her to be dead. I did not want to be there because I wanted E to be HERE.

Then God threw me a bone, because He loves me so much, and the first words out of the first speaker’s mouth were, “I do not want to be here today.”

I was not alone.

It was an amazing service, and that phrase was repeated many times. When one of E’s 11-year-old sons rose to speak, I thought my grief for his loss would break me in half. It hurt so much, physically, to sit and listen.

But, oh! He had such a mother. And I’m happy for him. And I know that he’d choose her again and again even if he could choose another who could stay longer with him. He’d still choose E. And I’m so happy that he and his siblings had such a wonderful mom.

I am so happy for them.

They are grieving big because they all loved big.

And so am I.

I miss my friend. I wrote her a card a few days after Christmas and I can’t even remember what I wrote. Because I think I believed in my silly, denying heart, that it wouldn’t be the last thing I wrote to her. I know I said I loved her. But I can’t remember what else. It makes me crazy that I can’t remember. I wish I could go back and make sure it was profound. That the last thing she read from me would have truly let her know how much she means to me. 

***

I am grieving still. I will for a long time. My loss is not as huge as her family’s loss, but it feels enormous.

However, God is good, and even in the midst of it, I’m happy for me. Because friend, it IS better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I’m happy that I had a friend who loved me so well, and whom I could love in return.

So if you’re grieving today, I’m happy for you. And I pray for your heart as it heals, that the mark your loved one left on it will, in time, bring you more joy than sadness. And I pray it for me, too.

Jenny Rapson

Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.
 

Memories Fill the Holes in Their Hearts Where a Grandpa’s Love Should Be

In: Grief
Drawing, journal, and photo of man, color photo

“Girls, come here for a minute.” In some sort of yearly ritual, I guide my oldest two daughters to my bedroom, where a wooden chest sits. It’s painted in flowers of muted colors and has a brass keyhole on it, making it look like an antique. It isn’t. It’s only 20 years old. As my girls follow me into my room, I grab the skeleton key off my dresser that unlocks the wooden chest. I turn the key and open the wooden box that holds so many pieces that are supposed to remind me of my dad.  Pictures of him....

Keep Reading

The Calls Stopped When the Casket Closed

In: Grief
Father and toddler walking in cemetery, color photo

The night my mother died is raw. It was filled with a lot of emotions: anger, regret, sadness, guilt, and remorse. The next day, I woke up to multiple calls, text messages, posts on my Facebook wall, and Facebook messages. It was a flood. The flood soon turned into a drought. Before I could process what happened the night before, people were sending flowers, the funeral home was calling, and people were showing up at my door. The next two days there was an influx of people in and out of my house and a lot of food. But the...

Keep Reading

Losing a Child Changes Everything

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman at beach sunset

I‘ve had my life planned out since I was a teenager. My dreams were to be a teacher, wife, and mom in that order. I would teach elementary school and have the cutest classroom with the greatest lessons, and I’d teach until I was old and retired. The man of my dreams would sweep me off my feet in college, and we’d have a romantic wedding and start our great life together. Then, after a few years, we would have two children, a boy and a girl. We would be a blissfully boring, happy little family.  I didn’t want extravagant...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love Lasts Forever

In: Grief, Grown Children, Motherhood
Silhouette mother and daughter

She was so pretty. So pretty it was hard to look away from that porcelain skin, those high cheekbones, stunning green eyes with just the right amount of sparkle and depth, and shiny black hair. And those lips, perfectly plump with neatly applied lipstick, always ready to give a kiss on the cheek or a knowing smile. More than pretty, she was beautiful—you know, beautiful inside and out. She was classy. Not fancy or prim and proper, not snobby—just classy. A certain air about her that made you notice and appreciate her presence when she walked into the room. She...

Keep Reading

Thumbprint Glasses and a Lifetime of Love

In: Grief, Motherhood
Broken thumbprint glass on floor, color photo

Yesterday my Nannie’s glass was shattered, intentionally thrown across the room by a child of mine. My heart shattered with it for that glass held memories. When we visited my Nannie in Florida, I would wake with the sun to the aroma of fresh eggs, bacon, and grits. I would stumble into her bright yellow kitchen. The counters always cluttered, the small white table nicely set, and the glasses full of orange juice. “Thumbprint glasses,” I called them. I would put my tiny thumb into the imprint of each beautiful dent and admire the rainbows the iridescent glass made. That...

Keep Reading

Some Babies Are Held Only in a Mother’s Heart

In: Baby, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Ultrasound of baby

“Whatever may come and whatever may pass, we have faith that our God will bring us to it and through it.” That’s what I wrote in a post after we announced our third pregnancy. It was the first pregnancy we went public with, but it was the third time we had two positive lines on a pregnancy test. You see, we had miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. We went from surprised optimism to guarded yearning and finally stolen joy. The first baby was nothing more than a what-if before that test. It was a surprise to two people who loved...

Keep Reading

My Birthday Will Never Be the Same without My Mother

In: Grief
Mother and two daughters, older color photo

It’s been eight months since my mom took her last breath on earth and entered into her eternal resting place. Eight, long, motherless months. I expected holidays to be hard, as they should, because a piece of the family is missing. The spot where they once sat, ate, laughed, took pictures, and made memories is now empty. Just like a piece of my heart is empty. RELATED: I Didn’t Just Lose My Mom the Day She Died The holiday no one prepared me for was my birthday. A day that’s to be celebrated. It’s the day I took my first...

Keep Reading

Dear Mom, I Miss You

In: Faith, Grief
Grown woman and her mother, color photo

Dear Mom, Yesterday I went over to your house. I was hoping you would open the door, but Daddy greeted me with his sweet smile. Yes, he still has a mustache. The one you hate, but I did manage to trim it up for him. I cut his hair too.   We talked about you over coffee and waited for you to join us, but you never did. He’s doing his best to do this life without you in it, but his eyes are clouded with memories and mixed with pain. He misses you, Momma. RELATED: I Didn’t Just Lose...

Keep Reading

Mom, You Were There for All My Firsts…Except This One

In: Grief
Sad woman looking out window

Firsts are monumental. Inaugural. Annual. They say you always remember the milestones, the annuals, the inaugurals.  You were there for those firsts during my first few years of life: my first tooth, first steps, first boo-boo. Always supporting me. Always cheering me on. When I grew up, you stood by me for the next wave of firsts: my first bad grade, my first heartbreak, the first fight with friends, my first solo in choir, my first stitches.  You stayed by my side during the pain from your divorce and dried my tears when Dad moved out. You even loved me...

Keep Reading

I Wanted to Call You Last Night, Dad

In: Grief, Grown Children
Woman sitting on dock alone by lake

I went to call you last night. I was sitting in my room, watching grown men play a child’s game. Alone. And when the last out was registered, in an improbable no-hitter, I needed to share my delight. I wanted to call you. But I couldn’t. Since you left, a mere 18 months ago, there have been many moments, when I have wanted to call. To say, hello, to ask for advice, to share good news, and bad. To discuss world events or shoot the breeze. To hear your corny jokes and lift your spirits. Or have you lift mine....

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime