My Mom, a month later


My good friend, Courtney, lost her mother about a year before I lost mine and she recommended I write to process some of what I’m feeling lately.  It occurred to me that I haven’t really written about anything in a long time, which is rare for me.  I have felt overwhelming fatigue and I have been grasping for signs and more faith which I sometimes receive.  I have felt mentally and emotionally fried.  I have not felt like writing.

To me, writing is a way to take the spiritual signs I see in everyday life and translate them so that I can refer back to them later on.  I love symbolism and believe that God places symbols in our path so that we can understand the mystery of life better.  In my mind, it’s similar to how Jesus always used parables to teach his disciples.  For me, seeing a branch full of flowers on an otherwise dead tree, or new tulips in front of a crumbling building speak volumes about hope and perseverance.  I love paying attention to those kinds of things and believe my mind was crafted to discover them…it’s my spiritual language.

Since my mother passed away a month ago today, I have certainly experienced some signs that tell me she is okay and happy.  Songs on the radio keep speaking to me.   Within a week of her passing, I had to run out and do an errand but left the house upset because I had just heard her voice on my parents’ outgoing answering machine message.  Within a few seconds, a car pulled in front of me with a bumper sticker that read ‘I <3 KERRY’.  I have never seen a bumper sticker like it before and haven’t since.  The day after my Mom died was my birthday, and I was hopeful she would find some way to wish me a Happy Birthday, to send me a message.  When I got to my parents’ house that day, my sister Molly had searched for and found a Pandora-style bracelet my Mom had intended to give me for my birthday, which was so wonderful.  I know my Mom whispered (or maybe yelled!) in her ear to find that bracelet to make sure I got it on my actual birthday, and I am so grateful that Molly listened and acted.  One of the charms in the box was actually meant for a necklace and I put it on the chain on which I wear my cross immediately after I opened it.  I was a little envelope with a note sticking out which read: I LOVE YOU.  It was my ‘message’.

I have spent more this month on Kindle books than I care to think about.  I keep buying books on near-death experiences, books on grieving, books by C.S. Lewis (my favorite author), that I was surprised I never read before.

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”  A Grief Observed

In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself both missing my Mom and struggling with answers about God’s plan.  These both felt like loss.  I found I wanted some clear sign of my Mom, something I absolutely knew was not a product of my overactive imagination and overthinking mind.  My sisters had experiences that seemed so vivid and clear, and I was envious of them. I certainly had my own experiences, but I wanted more, and I was mad at God that I wasn’t receiving something more.  (I knew God could take it.)

God answered me, as He always does.  He reminded me that faith is my choice, encouraged me to keep on the road, promised me it would all be clear one day, and that it would be worth it.  He did that through scriptures I happened upon, devotionals that showed up in my inbox, feelings in my spirit, songs on the radio.  He strengthened me in ways I will probably not fully understand until much later.  My sense is that pain and tears are a part of our growing, and as unpleasant as they are, they serve a purpose.  We can choose to hold on to trust, and that’s just what I am doing.  Almost as soon as I came to that conclusion in my spirit, God did two things that reminded me of His goodness and His sense of humor.

Last night, I was saying goodnight to Brian after a long day.  Our interactions have been limited lately since he is so busy and we talk mostly about what needs to be done and how to do it.  All business.  But last night, sitting on the edge of his bed, he said something that made us both laugh and laugh.  It felt like he was a little boy again, and it was such a gift.  I remembered that joy is very much the business of God, and even though we go through these trials, God wants us to be joyful.

Then, last night, I finally got the dream I had been waiting for.

I was with my family in some waiting room, and was called in and told there was a problem.  I walked into a surprise birthday party and see my mother.  I am surprised she is there, but not shocked. I hug her for the duration of the party.  I see over her shoulder my friends Pauline and Gregg, but I don’t leave my mother.  I just hug her the whole time.  Later we are cleaning up.  Apparently, she had made a lamb stew for the party that my Dad loved.  I am picking up potholders and other things I think belong to her.  One says ‘The Mills Family’.  Everyone else thinks these things belong to the Hall, but I know they’re wrong.  On the way out, Mom says, ‘Don’t forget the paper towels! The girls use them to spray their hair up (like in an 80s style). “ At this point, I realize she is fading.  Dad had said earlier he thought she was, too.  I joked, “Mom, what year is it?” We all laugh, but she now seems confused.  We load her into the car and by now she is quite small and looks exhausted but happy.  It had been a lot for her.  My Dad closes the car door and we talk of her like she’s gone because we know she is.  He says the stew was so good, that ‘your mother always put all different kinds of tomato sauces in there to make it her own.’  The people who rented the Hall seem almost military in their uniform and though they’ve been so nice and gracious, they have to close up so it’s time to go.  I wake up to ‘The day the music died…’ running through my head.  But I feel at peace.


Later on my way to teach, I found that looking up into the stunning blue sky was giving me a sense of peace I hadn’t had for a while.  I taught a beautifully enthusiastic class of children and found myself trying harder just in case my mother was watching.  I sense the idea that she is watching will be a driving force for me in many areas as I move forward.  On my way home, a song came on the radio that was speaking to me so strongly about where I am today.  And that’s where I’ll leave it for now.

I won’t give up on us

Even if the skies get rough

I’m giving you all my love

I’m still looking up…
I’m still looking up

I won’t give up on us

God knows I’m tough, He knows

We got a lot to learn

God knows we’re worth it

I won’t give up on us

Even if the skies get rough

I’m giving you all my love

I’m still looking up…

© my little epiphanies Kerry Campbell 2014 all rights reserved

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