Messages from Heaven
Mother, the ribbons of your love are woven around my heart.
I made it through Thanksgiving. I was relieved it was over. It wasn't easy, but I was so busy with food preparation and getting the house ready, I had little time to lament Mom's not being with us.
Now, I was going to have to face Christmas. It was going to be harder than anything I have ever faced before.
Mom had succumbed to colon cancer the previous January. I had lived through the first Thanksgiving without her and now I faced the first Christmas.
It was the first weekend of December. I tried to muster up the courage to visit Mom's grave to decorate. I had visited her grave on her birthday, Easter, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, during the summer, and earlier in the fall. I had only missed two months all year. Somehow, my heart wasn't in it now. I couldn't bear the thought of standing there mouthing the words, "Merry Christmas, Mom," to a stone. I began to cry every time I thought about it.
I let the first weekend of December pass without making myself go there. The cemetery was over an hour's drive. This provided a ready excuse. I was just too busy shopping and getting the house ready.
Back at work Monday morning, I knew I was dragging my feet. I would, eventually, have to face the music and go. Mom deserved it.
That next Saturday, we had unexpected company. Some friends from out of town were visiting their parents and stopped by for an early lunch. The day was shot by the time they left and we cleaned up.
Sunday, I went to late mass and wasn't quite feeling up to par. I told myself I didn't feel like driving all that distance. Another weekend had passed. I was feeling guilty about not having any decorations on Mom's grave but I knew she wouldn't expect me to go out when I wasn't feeling well.
Only one weekend left. I had so much wrapping and food preparation still to do. Our children, their spouses, and our three grandchildren would be with us Christmas Eve. They always spent Christmas Eve with us and went to their in-laws' homes on Christmas Day.
I had always spent Christmas Day with Mom, and it transported me back to my childhood. With Mom, I was the child, not the wife, the mother, or the fifty-year-old grandmother. Now all that was gone. There was no going back to my childhood. There was no Mom.
The last weekend and the last chance to decorate arrived. How would I be able to get through this? I was depressed. I cried at the drop of a hat. Again, I let the weekend slip by and made up more flimsy excuses. Since it had snowed a flake or two, I thought "inclement weather"—yet another reason not to go. The streets were barely wet.
It was Monday morning. I took Monday and Tuesday off from work to try to get caught up with the wrapping, cleaning, decorating, and baking Christmas cookies. This year I felt more overwhelmed than ever. I slept fitfully at night. I was more fatigued every day. I couldn't shake that sorrow deep inside.
I hadn't finished our laundry over the weekend. I had one more load of clothes. I began filling the washer around 7:45 a.m. My husband left for work and I was alone. Gloom wrapped around me like a shroud. My eyes began to fill with tears. As I was starting to load the washer, suddenly, I felt weak.
All at once, my head began filling with the words of a poem. I dropped the clothing I had in my hands and they fell to the floor. I frantically reached for the pencil and paper we kept by the telephone. I began to write the words down as fast as they came. It was like I was possessed. When I finished, I had filled two sheets of paper. The poem rhymed and flowed nicely, as if I had deliberately composed it. Well, I hadn't. I read over what I had scribbled down.
It was at that moment I was certain where the poem had come from. Straight from heaven. I had no doubt that my mom was comforting me as she had so many times since I was a child. Here are the words that came in that sudden rush:
The somber figure stood before,
The marker of cold stone,
She felt such pain, her loved one lost,
She stood crying, all alone.
Then, a voice spoke softly to her,
Like the voice of an angel in prayer,
"Do not weep for me, not ever my child,
For you see, I'm not really there.
My soul is at rest, peace and joy are mine,
So wipe those tears from your face,
Go on with the living, who share your life,
Take them in your loving embrace.
I will never truly be lost to you,
Because of the love we hold dear,
Dear child, love never, ever dies,
Isn't love what has brought you here?
The light of God's love, shines on us,
And with Him, we're never alone."
The voice was fading, just like it began,
To a low and whispering tone.
The somber figure lifted her eyes,
The sun had come out from above,
Slowly she walked away from the grave,
Her heart filled with lasting love.
I quickly finished the laundry, and got ready for my journey. I felt renewed and eager to do what I had put off for so long.
I had a beautiful bouquet of poinsettias, edged in gold, with holly leaves and berries. I couldn't wait to place it in Mom's vase.
On the drive to the cemetery, a panorama of fifty wonderful years I had with Mom flashed through my mind. I was no longer daunted by prospects of another encounter with her grave. I felt gratitude, instead of sorrow, knowing that God had richly blessed me with a loving, kind, and caring mother. A mother who was still comforting me from beyond the grave.
That Christmas was quite different for us, but a good Christmas overall. It wasn't sad or overshadowed by gloom and regret. Yes, we remembered Mom—only in a completely different way than I had anticipated.
At dinner Christmas Eve, the family sat and recalled all the good times we had shared with that wonderful lady who filled our lives with love and all those happy memories.
Thanks, Mom, you've always been there for me.