Before retreating to my mini sanctuary the other day I decided to clean my kitchen. Cleaning and manual labor somehow eases tension…maybe that’s weird, but you do you and I’ll do me…
Anyway…I prayed as I unloaded the dishwasher. “Lord, help me not become cynical with people’s words of well wishes and prayers.”
Almost immediately, I felt in my heart a pang as if shouting, “You’ve grieved long enough now get up and take care of business”
In my flesh, I wanted to scream, What? Lord, what are You saying here?
I was then led to research how long people were allowed to mourn the passing of a loved one in biblical times. 7 days…7 days to mourn, to bury, to move on…some were buried the same day…but truly the max limit was about 30 days. I’d apparently met my limit too.
I was also reminded of David’s cry for God’s mercy to allow His ill-gotten seed to survive in which he fasted and prayed…in affect, he mourned prior to the actual passing of the first child he and Bathsheba conceived. Yet, at the realization of God’s will afterwards, he got up washed his face, ate and went on as if nothing had even occurred. David got himself up and got himself together and resumed his Kingly duties…that which he had been anointed for in his youth.
Even now as I sit in my bed at the wee hours of the morning typing this message, I see how I allowed my grief to almost allow me to do the exact opposite. I almost died with her.
Grief is a funny thing I suppose. The flood of sadness and regret…the nostalgia of yesterday seems so inescapable, yet life for all others who had not actually gone on to be with the Lord must continue. Bills will continue, needs will continue, and demands continue to require supply.
I’d decided during the funeral that I owed it to myself, my mother, and my readers to continue. I had this fervor of creativity that had me ever busy in my mind and heart. Only, when I’d allowed myself the time to write, to dream, to conceive I was barren.
I was alone.
I wanted it that way…at least for a while I suppose. I’d been forcing myself to visit family more. I don’t know if it was a desire to receive attention or my way of again breaking out of the box that years of isolation created, but I enjoyed going back lately.
I relished the old home movies that revealed happier times I’d somehow forgotten. The laughter that bitterness had erased. I even had been able to capture smiles that I otherwise would never have had she not been laid to rest as she was. Snapshots pieced together meticulously archived by an uncle who too had gone onto glory mere months prior had been the reason I had access. Who knew that his tinkering with an old projector…turned video recorder… turned DVD recorder… and the like would allow my cousin and I to see ourselves in living color over 30 years ago splashing around in a kiddie pool as if we hadn’t a care in the world.
Perhaps it was because we didn’t. There were fears then. There were no judgments. We hadn’t learned that life was sometimes not as pleasant as we would hope it could be. We knew no bounds. As I sat there peering at the television screen marveling at how God pieced our lives together and how somehow a rift disbanded us sporadically I found myself crying between the laughter. Tears of joy and pain.
Over the last few weeks I’ve wondered what I could do to live to the fullest…I was reminded by a friend how my words would not only allow life to continue in and through me, but that all those memories both good and bad would serve to help someone else later….that to honor my mother…to understand who she was entirely required that I dig deeper…that I didn’t just owe it to myself and to my mother to continue to write and to continue to encourage..rather, I owed it to God.
In that instant, I understood why the last few weeks felt as if I too had died; I’d stopped breathing. I realize now that God gives each of us a purpose and our lives are meant to fulfill that purpose before we leave here. Perhaps my mother’s purpose was also to encourage others to be their best. The many well wishes and thoughts shared from friends from a past I’d been unaware of before seemed to support that premise. And even while, I allowed bitterness and resentment stagnate our relationship for many years, I do recall those moments she had led me to believe I could do anything I set out to do.
Realizing how she kept everything I’d ever written was proof that though her illness denied her the luxury of expressing that encouragement to me in a way I could ingest, even the pain from those she had been able to utter forced me to write more. So yes, it’s been 30 days since the news of my mother’s passing met my ears and the pain of the loss first touched my heart,and while I know that my grief may remain for some time, I decided today is my last day of mourning.
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