Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ghosts


Years ago if anyone so much as hinted I looked like my mother, I'd cringe and roll my eyes in typical teenage fashion.
These days, not so much.
I lost my mother eight years ago. She was only 52.
But, the truth is, I had already lost her. Her physical death was hard, but the emotional death was harder. By the time her body died, I'd already gone through all of the stages of loss. When she passed, a victim of a heart attack, people would ask, "were you close?" as if that mattered. In some ways, her lifelong absence from my life made it harder. Opportunities were lost forever.
I was six.
Sent by taxi to my grandma's house with a kiss and a promise. "I'll come for you soon," she said. My sister was five. Two frail little girls who had already seen way too much of loss and rejection and hurt.
We never lived with my mother again.
Through the years I wrestled with anger. With feelings of abandonment. With rage. I would never be like my mom. I would never hurt those closest to me. I would never…
Until I did. Not in the exact ways she did, of course, but I did. I wrestled with my own demons and came up on the losing side. I fought my own frailties. My own shortcomings. I had my own children.
And, in all that, I found a way to forgive her. No one wakes up in the morning and says "I think I'll mess up my kids today." I realized she did the best she could with the tools she had and her best was good enough. In her own way, she cared for us, and giving us up was perhaps the most merciful thing she could do.
I look in the mirror today and I see her smile. Her expressions. My hands move in the same ways hers did. She was beautiful. And I am grateful.
I am a ghost of my mother. A line that connects one generation to another. I hold her grandchildren and pray for them. I do the things she wanted to do but couldn't. I'm there for school conferences, talent shows and softball games. And yet for all my best, I still lack.
My children will say "I will never be like her." And that's okay. In their hearts I hope they find forgiveness and grace. I hope they understand I did the best I could with the tools I had.
I hope they know they were loved.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Toddler Blues

I love to watch my young son toddling along. Cautious, bumbling, unsteady he goes, so proud of his new found skill. For the most part he gets it. He walks around the house and around the yard with little or no help from Mommy. But every once in awhile something stops him in his tracks. Not enough to make him fall – but enough to make him raise his arms up and wail for me. There he stands, hands upturned, face red, screaming for my help. And there I stand, encouraging, prodding, beckoning him to come to me. His cries get louder, his face gets redder, until it's clear that he won't budge. Something has him confused and confounded and he needs me. I reach down and pick him up.

Sometimes I’m like that.

Like this morning.

I have a situation in my life that's causing pain. Most days I go along, cautious, bumbling, unsteady, but going along nonetheless.

Then it gets to be too much. I ball my hands into fists and cover my face and cry out. "God, I can't do this. It's too heavy." And there He stands. Encouraging, prodding, beckoning me to come to Him. But I won't budge. I'm confused and confounded and I need Him. He reaches down and picks me up.

He sends a friend. Or relief from the heat. Or a light at the end of the tunnel. The situation isn't gone. It isn't anywhere close to being resolved. But, for the moment, I know that it's going to be okay.

My Heavenly Father is carrying me.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."