Dear Momma,

I don’t like the small line that separates the two dates. As though the dash between your birth day and the day you left could somehow represent your entire life. It just feels so inadequate, so understated. I’ve contemplated this a lot lately, all that lies in the space of that dash, too much to ever capture in words. You married so young; I have told my kids that it was too young, really. Married at nineteen, and then had your first baby at twenty one. We never really got to talk about it, but I wonder if you were afraid? I wonder if you thought you wouldn’t be a good mother. Turns out, you were a great mother and friend. You found Jesus as a young adult, and you never looked back. Then, you were instrumental in daddy finding Him as well. I know you wanted something different for your family, something stronger and more solid that you could really count on as the years of life rolled by. And, Jesus was the answer. Now that I am at an age to really understand, I marvel at how you and daddy sold everything, loaded up your aging car with clothes and diaper bags then a small U-Haul with whatever was left. So young and unjaded in your faith, believing everything would work out fine. I wonder what the morning was like when you backed out of the driveway of all that was familiar and drove away with no promise of anything ahead. What was going on in your heart? Excitement? Fear? Joy? All of it? You just knew that daddy said he was called to preach, so you loaded up your two toddlers and baby and followed him to Colorado so he could attend Bible College. I think you would’ve followed him to the moon if he had asked you to; you loved him that much. Your faith amazes me. I don’t know if I would’ve had the courage to do that, but I am so glad you did. It was the beginning of your life calling. I remember you telling me some of the stories of those college years, how hard they were. But, you never complained about it, you did make it clear that you would not want to live them again though! I wonder how you felt when you reached the town that would be your new home and you had no home? No job, nothing tangible to rely on or to remind you that you had made the right decision. I wish we had talked about this more. Your story compels me to be a better person, to be thankful for what I have and to be willing to stretch my faith. Not to take for granted my home, food for my table and a luxury called a washing machine. I know you must’ve been so thankful when you found that basement level apartment. The one where you hung twine across the small living room as a clothesline because you didn’t have a dryer, and hanging them outside was out of the question, it was too cold for them to dry. I remember you told me how grateful you were when you finally made a friend, you were shy and had a tough time reaching out. You still talked of her from time to time until the Lord took you home. She was a gift to a young mom who had so little and was needy for fellowship. I would like to thank her in person; I hope I get the chance someday. She made a difference in your life with the simple act of friendship. I haven’t had the heart to look at your journal that you wrote during those tough days, I don’t think I could bear it just yet.   You were so brave. I know you didn’t feel it, you just knew the Lord called you and daddy into ministry and that was how it was meant to be. I ask myself often, would I be willing to do the same? To give up what the world calls necessities to live out what I felt God calling me to do? I remember stories of little food, but always enough, old cars that only ran half of the time. (We learned to push a car off the road like professionals as middle schoolers.) Homemade clothes out of half price fabric. (I still laugh at the pictures where one of the dresses you made for us had upside down sailboats on it because that was the only way the dress pattern would fit on the fabric. I’m sure people did a double take when we wore that one.) We played in the yard, had sprinkler fights, laughed and cried; never knowing the private struggle you faced each day to make life seem so normal for us. We never knew the nights you went to bed and prayed that God would provide for our needs the next day; not until we were adults and you told us the stories. You raised us to be strong, and we are, thanks to you, momma. You always told us you had all you needed, which is why it was impossible to buy you a Christmas or birthday gift. You know, we never really got to celebrate your 60th like I wanted to, why did I wait? What occasion was I looking for; we should’ve just gone out and celebrated YOU. I was so worried about doing something special, that I didn’t do much at all. Life lesson. It never mattered much to you though; you were never much for material things. You had your family and your heart was set on something greater, eternal joys. And now you are enjoying the very thing you spent a lifetime believing for – heaven. Is it as sweet as they say, mom? Do we get wings, can you fly? Are you shiny or do you look the same? Will I recognize you? I sure hope so; because you know I will be looking for you first thing. If I know you, you are not drawn to the beautiful gold streets but would rather rest by the crystal waters, probably fishing. And if you have it your way, you’re sipping on a glass of tea. I can still picture your big beautiful smile beneath that old floppy fishing hat you loved to wear. That’s where I’ll look first, by the waters. It comforts me to think of you doing what you love, waiting and enjoying heaven until we get there. Jeff was talking to me about a study he was a part of this week at church. It was about those who have gone on before us and how they are part of the great cloud of witnesses that the Bible talks about. (Hebrews 12:1-2, below) I love the thought of that, you cheering me on through this crazy, wonderful, painful, unpredictable, exciting, roller coaster of life. THAT makes me smile. You’ve been gone for eleven months now. It hurts to say that. Some days it feels like a lifetime, others only a moment. I think of you every single day. I laugh at some of our memories and cry when my heart longs to see your face or hear your voice. No one will ever take your place, my precious momma. The past and the present have collided and out of the ashes have come a new life song, a melody that has joyful dancing and mournful sorrow. Each day is a little more precious and those I love have become even dearer to my heart. But, just like you said He would, the Lord has been faithful through it all. He has held me, encouraged me, loved me and lifted me. I am emotionally able to walk now, instead of crawling. It is a slow, painful limping walk, but I can feel my strength slowly returning. I have learned to persevere from the best, to endure and have faith like you did. And, maybe most of all, I have learned to lean heavy on hope. Hope of healing, heaven and of seeing you. Those thoughts are the sweetest ones I have, the ones of a reunion with you. But, until then, there is life to live, and memories to be made. I will carry you in my heart everywhere, I wonder if you know that? I have to tell you, though, I am thankful that I don’t have to push cars off the road anymore, and I will smile today when I can throw my clothes in the dryer. Maybe I’ll even go outside on the porch and have a glass of tea and listen to the birds and talk about going fishing in memory of you.   I will follow your example and thank God for the little things; they make life richer. And I will thank Him for heaven, for eternal life where death no longer separates us, and tears are not allowed.

Love you always,

Me

This song has meant so much to me lately, especially this verse and chorus:

 “Through All of It” by Colton Dixon

There are days I’ve taken more than I can give

And there are choices that I made That I wouldn’t make again

I’ve had my share of laughter Of tears and troubled times

This is has been the story of my life

I have won and I have lost I got it right sometimes But sometimes I did not

Life’s been a journey I’ve seen joy, I’ve seen regret

Oh and You have been my God Through all of it

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

2 comments

  1. Robin Melvin · October 1, 2015

    Sandi, What a beautiful tribute to your mom. Thank your for sharing your raw thoughts and emotions. I know you cried many healing tears while writing this.

    Like

    • sandimcarlson · October 1, 2015

      It has been a tough journey, I miss my mom so much. Writing in this very simple blog has helped me so much. I am so grateful that others want to read it, and my prayer is that it speaks to them in some way. Thank you Robin, for your sweet words.

      Like

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