The Witching Hour

I’m not sure if I’ve written about some of this before, so forgive me if I have…but right now I am just letting the words flow…

I remember so distinctly some of our conversations those last few months.  Twice a day visits, one each from Dad and I, that ebbed into one of us visiting once a day because we were running ourselves ragged and not even noticing it.  Conversations about things to come, how the world would be, and how the four of us may or may not move along.  But I can hear her saying over, and over, and over….”If you come after 4, it will be too late”.  “I won’t make it until 4…so come before then…” And in the most morbid of ways, it became our running joke.  And in my attempt to comfort her, to support her into the next stages, I promised that I would think of her at 4 o’clock and every moment between.

So it seems only appropriate that today I should wake up in the wee hours of the morning, feeling strangely wide awake though not in any shape to face the day.  I read in a book how sometimes people refer to this time in the early morn as “the witching hour” because nothing good could happen at 3 or 4 in morning (I wish I could attribute that thought to the author, but I can’t seem to recall which book it is from–but that is not my own thought).  To me this time is sacred–and I imagine because of its “name” it would be the same for certain groups of the occult.  But I consider it my own personal time where the distance, and space, and thickness of the world feels a little bit less between us.  And even though my sleep pattern gets thrown off, I am thankful for the moments I can sit at this hour and just be.

It can be difficult to remember.  Her voice seems to slip away from your ears and you wonder if you truly remember how it sounded: how your could here the smile in her voice before you saw it on her face, how you knew when you were in trouble just from her tone of exasperation, and the concern and worry that was never far from the core of her being because she loved fiercely about her people and really people in general.

I don’t like today: because it slaps me in the face with the fact that she is gone.  Life has been hectic the last several months–there have been numerous changes at work that affect how I work and my typical processes for getting things done–I’ve had to adapt time and time again.  I say that because, in a strange way, its helped me cope.  I’ve been able to distract myself from the gaping hole in my heart.  I’ve been able to push aside some of the grief and not let it crumple me in a corner.  But that also makes me feel guilty for not letting myself be raw and vulnerable and real.  But that time has also given me much time for reflection as I look at how our congregation moves forward and evolves.  And in those moments of contemplation I wonder what her advice would be.  I recognize the ball of nerves she’d be as I share everything that is happening in my life and the (self-perceived) difficulties with which I’m faced on the day-to-day.

I don’t know exactly what she’d tell me, but I can imagine the sentiment behind her advice.  I remember the strength of her faith and her spirit.  I remember the compassion and love she had for me and my sisters.  I remember the fierce connection between she and my dad.  I remember the twinkle in her eye when she’d say something that was silly or was something that just barely pushed the envelope on its appropriateness.  I remember things that bonded our souls, those connections that are unbreakable.  I remember life chats snuggled in bed together.  I remember the multitude of shopping trips for new clothes: whether her taking me for school clothes or me taking her when she’d stopped driving.  I remember the way her cheeks would pink after one glass of wine.  And how her nimble fingers could craft up just about anything on her sewing machine that seemed ancient.  I remember how as she aged she looked more and more like her dad–and I think fondly about the fact that I will probably follow suit.  I remember the difficult days: growing up, as an “adult”, and in the last several years–because life simply isn’t life without the highs and lows.

And even in all of this remembering, it doesn’t make it easier.  But I am thankful for the witching hour and the way time suspends–even just for a few split seconds–so that I can catch glimpses of her, feel concentrate moments of her presence, and commune with my mama who I will never stop missing.

 

Living Parallel Lives

Life has a funny way of bringing you what you need, exactly when you need it sometimes.  I guess that’s just God looking out for you, but sometimes it seems so coincidental.

In the last couple years I’ve been spending time with my dad going through things in his house: purging, and organizing, and reminiscing.  Often through this process we stumble upon hidden gems and items we didn’t know (or didn’t remember) existed.  Recently, one of those items was the journal my mom kept during most of her time in Zaire.  She served as a missionary through the United Methodist Church teaching Mathematics to middle and high school students.  Her handwriting looks different,  but eerily the same.  Her voice sounds different, she sounds…ambitious, young, dedicated, passionate.  But you can also hear the struggles, the questioning, the unsure-ity (is that a word?) and doubt.  Those are a lot of the same feelings I am confronted with right now as well.

I can’t claim that my experience is the same as hers. But situationally I can see the connective points of what she went through and what I am going through. It’s been a strange reality–to read it instead of discussing it with her, to feel her presence in my own struggles and emotions, to know that there is the constant reminder that no matter what happens she is right beside me.

It makes me wonder back to journaling my own thoughts, and what my future children will think of my words they might have the chance to read. How will they see me? What will they take away for their own lives? And how can I comfort them even by just giving them the realization that we all go through difficult times, times that make us want to pull out our hair, times that push us to (or past) the brink of tears, times that challenge us and make us stronger, wiser, and more ourselves.

All of these various thoughts push me to regroup myself. I remind myself of my worth, of my inner strength, of my talent, of my compassion and heart, of my need for self-care, of my desire to leave the world and my community even just a little bit better than it was when I was born to this time and place. I am learning to find me again. I’m learning to trust myself. I am learning that somethings I thought were important aren’t. And I’m remembering some of the important things I’ve overlooked along the way. I strive to do better, to create opportunities to grow and flourish, and surround myself with those who help me get there.

Lessons from Ruth

There are certain books of the Bible that just resonate with me. Not because I’ve heard the stories one too many times, but because there is a deeper learning that has happened or a unique connection to my life. The book of Ruth is one of those for me. As I was driving home late tonight from an event with my youth, I was thinking about tomorrow and what I might write. I started getting teary as I really thought about my mom, missing her, wanting to share things with her, and wishing I could give her the annual flowers that were my Mother’s Day gift tradition. I thought about the list I wrote for her when she was at GWV of all of the ways that I would remember her.

I think she is the Ruth to my Naomi. One of my favorite verses is Ruth 1:16–“But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” NLT. Over and over my mom and I talked about her presence in my life, and her continuing spirit being with me, with each of us. To me, this verse embodies that sentiment. It helps me remember and connect. It helps ground me in the here and now. It helps me to move forward.

It’s short and sweet tonight. I love you mama, always and forever. Happy Mother’s Day to the best a girl could ask for. I miss you much but am thankful to see you each and everyday in glimpses, brief or extended.