Today marks the first anniversary of losing my momma. I have spent the day digging through old photo albums and remembering her, but mostly what I’m stuck on is not remembering who she once was, but instead seeing all that she could have been.
I love my momma tremendously, I always have. But, my momma was not who she was created to be, and even though I’ve always known that, as I sift through her “treasures” and pictures, I see it so clearly. My mom’s life was scarred by pain, and in turn so was mine. My mom was such a beautiful person, but her beauty was kept hidden. I see that woman boldly now in these memorabilia filled boxes and albums, but I didn’t get to see her so much in real life. This saddens me deeply.
I am learning so much more about my momma through my sifting. I’ve learned that she always wanted to be a journalist. I’ve read her writings and found instructional "how to be a writer" newspaper clippings that she held onto for decades. I found pictures of sponsored children from other countries that she has secretly provided for. I’ve read her journal from her mission trip and her heart for helping those children and families, as well as her heartbreak over having to leave them. I’ve seen her Bible scribbled on and highlighted in, with almost every verse about love being underlined. I could see my mom’s true heart, the one I never got to see before, etched out in this Bible. I’ve also come across her deepest longings and it saddens me.
I found boxes of newspaper clippings about love and Valentines day, along with beautiful poetry. I found an obituary for almost everyone she knew that she had lost. I discovered that she kept every single card that anyone had ever sent her. I also found a lot of them to be “thank you” ones for generous things she had done. She often printed out some facebook posts or emails from myself or her grandchildren. She had so many things that she treasured, maps from vacation spots, napkins from restaurants where special events happened, and a few pictures of Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds. At heart, my mom was a woman filled with love and generosity, she was a deep thinker, a creative spirit, and God loving woman, but what seemed to trump them all, was that she was a woman filled with rejection, abandonment and pain. It was those things that dictated her life. It was those things that made her keep what was most important in a box. Her dreams, her desires and her love.
I hate this for my momma. I hate that she felt she had to keep her beauty secretive and the people who loved her the most missed out on her. As a counselor, I get it. As her daughter, I struggled for a long time, always questioning her love for me. BUT, we do serve a Redeeming God, so therefore, I can freely and joyfully say that my momma and I, although many years too late and only a couple of months long, had a beautiful ending together, and I know she would give this writing her greatest blessing. In the end of her life my mom had so many regrets but she also had so much forgiveness for them all. When she died, I know she left us, finally, for once in her life, feeling loved. And I can also say that I finally felt it from her as well.
She ran from life and thought that only loving outsiders would be much less risky than truly showing her love to those that were more important. She rejected us, so we would never have the chance to reject her. I only wish she knew that desperately living her life trying to avoid pain, would only serve to cause her to live a life of even greater pain. I always would have loved you back, Momma. In fact, I always did.
And, for the record, I am who I am today because of my momma. The legacy of pain has been redeemed, and I know that would have been her greatest treasure, a treasure unfit for a box hidden in a closet. I love you always momma and I miss you terribly. My promise to you is that I will never live my life in a box. My love will be bold and loud and without abandon. I will do the things you never felt you could.
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Know this, live this, and freely love.