Four months into holy matrimony I was over it. I picked up the phone and called you because my husband and I had just had an argument and I was ready to throw the towel in. Adjusting to marriage was tough. You and I were on the phone and I bawled while panicking and asking “what am I going to do when you’re gone? How am I going to get through this without you?” And you told me “you will, you will get through it. Hopefully I’m not leaving you anytime soon, but if I do, know that you will get through it because you know how to pray and prayer changes things. You WILL make it!”
Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mother. Such comforting names in the midst of a storm. Just saying the name seems to make you feel like everything will be alright and they show up when you need them. I need you mom. I need you every day. I need to know that I’m doing a good job. I need to know that you’re proud of me and honestly, I just want you. Your presence alone made me feel comforted. You were my safe place. People often commented about how close we were and it was true. We had many of hard days in my early years, but we had very good, solid days too. I knew things about you that no one in the world knew. The things you found disgusting, the things you privately enjoyed. You had a bluntness with me on EVERY subject that few others, if any, got to experience. We held each others secrets even when we didn’t recognize them as such because we were just being us, doing what we did in our sweet bubble. It was good. It was safe. It was love.
A little more than a year after our phone conversation you lay in your death bed not speaking, eyes closed. I wondered if you were just resting or if you were all drugged up on painkillers that day. You were in a lot of pain then. Thinking that it was definitely the latter I sat beside your bed with my belly full of baby and I cried. I cried a weary cry. I was exhausted. I was scared. I was trying to wrap my brain around what was happening while also trying to “live in the moment”. I didn’t want to miss a minute of you, but it became so hard to come see you emotionally, and quite frankly, physically. For a moment you opened your eyes and said “what’s wrong?” I told you that I just wanted you to make it until my baby was born and in typical you fashion you stated that we would just have to pray and ask God for that to happen. And he heard our prayers because you held on until a week after Johanna was born. You did it and I know in my heart you held on for me. Even in your last days you thought of me. God bless you for being so stubborn. But that’s what we did for one another. We had each others backs. I was your baby and you were mine.
As adults we looked out for one another as best friends do. Like that time we took our annual trip to the Ritz Carlton to celebrate our birthdays and I walked into the lobby to see you with the saddest look on your face. I asked you what was wrong and you told me that they wouldn’t serve you in the hotel restaurant because it was close to closing time. Well, I wasn’t having that, obvi. Nobody puts my mama in the corner. After speaking to the manager and explaining to him that not only would he bring you food, but that he would have exactly what you wanted delivered to the room since they couldn’t be bothered to seat you, you gave me a big ole proud smile and nod of approval. I could hear you thinking “that’s my girl”. And I was. As adulthood had me navigating through the difficulties of our relationship from my childhood and coming to terms with what was in the past while embracing the present, my respect for you blossomed and for a few short years, I saw you. Not as a mom, but as a woman. I saw you. I saw your heart. I saw your unspoken hurts. I saw the scars of the wars that you fought, some I knew about, but others you kept close to your chest. I didn’t need to know the details because I’ve never been a particularly nosy person, but I did pray for you. I wished you happiness and joy. I wished you the peace of God in every area of your life.
Now as a mom I wish I could say to you that I get it. Being a mom is hard. So hard. While I break my neck trying to avoid some of the mistakes you made, I end up making brand spanking new ones. Then I get scared. I don’t want to screw this up. I don’t want to screw Johanna up. I often look back on a troublesome interaction between her and me and wonder if that one thing I did or didn’t do will be the thing that sends her to therapy in 20 years. I want to pick up the phone and ask you if you think I did the right thing, but you won’t answer. You can’t, I know. So I give it to God because he can answer, and he can guide me, and that’s what you taught me to do anyway. Lean on Jesus and not my own understanding. I’m doing it mom. I’m doing it. He is my rock and it’s because you introduced me to him and his love. You drowned me in lots of expensive, awesome gifts in our time together, but that gift of the knowledge of Christ is priceless. Thank you.
I want so badly for you to be proud of me. I asked you once if you thought I would be a good mother. After thinking for a few seconds you said “yeah, yes I do. I think you will be a really good mother.” Thank you for that vote of confidence in me. You have no idea how those words carry me through a rough homeschooling day or one of Johanna’s fournager tantrums.
Thank you for the friendship. Thank you for the lessons. Thank you for being the kind of woman and mother that deserves to be missed. I was blessed to be born to you. I only pray that Johanna could say the same someday. Oh, and hey, mom, look at hubby and I. We’re all making it and stuff. Prayer does indeed work.