I have many memories of my childhood from growing up in Virginia. Some of the fondest I have were spending time with my grandparents. We spent the summers running the fields and fishing and playing…they were full, and welcomed each year.
When my Momma’s mother died, it was the first time that I had ever lost one very close to me. I was 15-years old when she passed. I loved her ever so dearly…and as I remember her I can still smell the Oil of Olay on her skin and how soft she was when I touched her and hugged her. I smile as I remember how she would giggle and cover her mouth as she did, or how she crossed her arms together when she was sitting and listening or talking. I do not remember what her voice sounded like, but I can almost hear her say my name. I stand in her 4’10” shadow and know that I will never be half the woman that she was — she was so strong — like the Appalachian Mountains she called home for so many years.
I do believe that the hardest thing I ever had to do was bury my Momma. She was another strong woman — not letting much get the better of her. However, our relationship (as close as it was) was tumultuous at best. There was a deep need within both of us for someone to love us without condition — that need rose above everything that we did or touched.
Oh, we would fight…almost to the death…but I was tethered so tight to her that the our need for each other outweighed the angst between us. She resented my pulling away from her in every way I could and I resented her tight control of me that was suffocating much of the time. Yet, still, she was mine and I was hers and we stayed tethered so closely in angst and love all wound up together — sometimes resembling something beautiful and other times revealing an unfathomable mess with knots and frays — that neither of us understood how to unravel — so we loved because honestly, there was no other choice. We were tethered to each other until death.
I broke my parents’ hearts so many times over their lifetime of raising me. I caused them to walk the floor many nights and days too. One of the most poignant struggles was August of 1981 when I attempted to end my life. I was only 15-years old…confused and I desperately needed someone to somehow show me how to aright my life. I felt so lost and in that lostness there was so much unbearable pain. So, from there began years of pain for me and for them.
Daddy died about 10 years before my Momma did and it was hard. However, in 2009 when Momma suddenly died, a pain entered my soul that I had never experienced before. I was living in Florida by then with my husband and we received the call that we needed to get to Richmond and soon. However, the morning my plane landed and unbeknownst to me, Momma had died.
The journey from Richmond to Powhatan, where my childhood home was, seemed so much longer than it ever had before. Every thing I saw betrayed my senses and the world was so unaltered by my grief and her absence. I couldn’t breathe really — air betrayed me — my chest was so tight with pain. How was I supposed to go on from here without her? Because I knew that the tether that kept me planted on the ground was now irreparably severed. Who would I be without her? Was I now an orphan??
There were no answers to my crushing questions — only darkness — only grief.
As we climbed the little hill and turned toward the house — we descended the next hill — there was her home and at the end of her drive-way, the loveliest Irises were in bloom. The purple and lavender hues reached toward the Creator of all things and I knew at that very moment that I was tethered to Christ.
I understood at that very moment that I was not orphaned at all — but I was rooted in Him — in the midst of grief and pain and sorrow beyond measure that my roots were firm and sure because He is my surety. I was so grateful for that reminder in simple Irises and took my breaking heart and hid it under His pinions — my Refuge and my Strength!
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
“He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” (Psalms 91:4)
The Lord reveals Himself in the beauty of Irises and grandparents and Mommas — He tethers us to earthly things while we are learning Kingdom things. He demonstrates His great love for us through the death of His son and the beauty of earthly relationships.
He is faithful to care for us in these things — He is faithful to me —- and YOU!
Soli Deo Gloria