Today I woke up stronger and better and healthier than I have been in years. and I cried. Because life is still really hard. I thought if I just find a way to make the good days outnumber the bad days. If I finally committed to a workout routine and started seeing results. If I had a job that I liked and liked the people I worked with. If I found a husband who loves me and I genuinely enjoy spending time with. If I wrote a poem and thought it was beautiful then I would be fine.If I faced my grief instead of running from it, I would be ok.
But all I can think is, “I wish I could tell her how well I’m doing.”
and I can’t.
Isn’t that what you do? You call your Mom on the bad days and she tells you that no, you shouldn’t cook raw chicken in the microwave, only thaw it. She’ll tell you that if you keep crying you’ll get too upset and to just put a cold washcloth on your forehead and take a nap. Or sit on the toilet or something. You call your Mom on the good days too. If you do something right, she brags about you to other people. She doesn’t shut up about you, because she raised you and by some miracle she likes hanging out with adult you.
and just when you’re starting to step into the next chapter entitled “You can actually be friends with your Mom now.” You turn the page and it says “To be continued.”and you know it’s going to be a long, long time before you get an answer. and it’s not going to be here.
I wish it was here.
You’d think seeing daughters spending time with their Moms makes me sad, but it really doesn’t. There is a Mom and daughter who come into the shop where I work and get a sugar cookie and a cupcake every Monday night. and it makes me really, really happy. Cause they get it, it’s the here, it’s the now. It’s the ritual of a Monday night. They know that the secret isn’t quality time vs. quantity of time. It’s just constantly choosing to be together over and over and over so that when that time runs out (and you never really know when it will) you have bouquet of memories to dry in the pages of old books and hang on your wall with just a hint of fragrance left to them. We’d trade them for flowers in a heartbeat. But at least we have petals to scatter across the waters of our sorrows.
My Mom, Dad, and brother were in a car accident on a really rainy day on the freeway about three years before she died of cancer. I hated that car accident so much. I didn’t like seeing my brother in a hospital bed (even though it wasn’t serious), and I really, really hated seeing my Mom standing beside him with only one earring on. When I pointed out to her that her other earring was missing she didn’t even realize that she’d lost it. I loathed the whole experience. I did not enjoy being reminded that at any moment your whole life can change and just how quickly it can happen. Nothing was taken from me that day, instead I was given a reprieve, a gentle nudge to hold my loved ones closer. I was so grateful I had hugged each of them before they had left and said “I love you!” to each of them. In the following years I made sure to give each of my family members a hug and to say “I love you” any time we said goodbye. I was given divine homework, and like any good student I took it seriously.
“I guess we’re all one phone call
From our knees.”
We’ve all been given divine homework. Nobody is getting graded, and there’s no clear deadline. I’m not just talking about good works or kind words or buying a strangers coffee (these are all really, really good things though) I’m talking the hard, the hate, the heartbreaking, backbreaking thorn-in-my-flesh, I must fight this with God by my side or else I will fail challenges that we face. We don’t have to chase it, or search for it, it somehow finds us. It often doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and the emotions run deeper and clearer than a frozen river.
So yes, a dessert shop taught me to grieve, because day after day I see friends meeting friends for coffee and cake. I see families lighting birthday candles, their faces lit by the glow. I put together a box of sugar cookies for a lady who has just received the call that yes, she does have breast cancer. And she has no idea what she’ll be fighting. The pink curtains of the front window are pulled back and for a moment you can see a glimpse into heaven. A cupcake can’t really fix anything, but the kindness and the joy surrounding it remind me that the darkness can be fought. What battle are you on the front lines of? If the curtain is pulled back and you saw what Jesus saw, what would your divine homework be?
“And afterward, I will pour out my spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”