In her grief, MaryBeth Eberhard pens a letter to her recently deceased mother.
Preface: I am not a writer on grief. Suffering, this I know --but grief is new to me. I can write on laughter, joy, prayer, and love, but I never knew how they all could be wrapped up in a package of grief. While emotions are completely raw, they also offer healing. I share this with you in that spirit and ask your prayers as my family walks forward in faith.
I’m sitting in your chair tonight: a place I never thought I’d be. I feel numb at the loss of you; not really able to process the day’s events. It happened so quickly. This is not how I thought this day would go. And yet, you’d be happy I feel. We are here, all of us together, caring for Dad and helping him through what seems unimaginable, yet what we knew was coming.
I’m learning to know you again; a you I never knew -- you through other people’s eyes and words. I wish I’d known this mom. They all speak so highly of you. I read your letters and your words to others, and I met a new person. This person seems recreated, renewed, filled with hope and a touch of sadness. This was you all while I was here; you just never showed her to me.
Day after day I prayed for you to know Jesus. I did, Mom! I prayed for you to know Him because I wanted you to have the eternal. This you I’m meeting while sitting in your chair … she took the Gospel seriously. She fed the poor, clothed the cold and needy. She welcomed in the stranger and offered shelter. She gave in countless ways. And yet she stayed stubborn till the end. I am not sure if it was all stubbornness, or if fear held you back. How is it possible to hold on to our brokenness and yet strive for sainthood? Letter after letter, call after call, I’m learning it is quite possible. Perhaps that is where we all are. It’s so hard to let go of hurts and wounds, yet so many stories are filled with your acts of kindness. You always had a servant's heart for others. It is good to know that those virtues carried on as I moved away and raised my own family.
I can’t believe I’m sitting in this chair. It’s a visceral reaction that I am trying to comprehend. I both hug myself, wrapped in a blanket you knitted, and then throw it off as I stand up. I imagine you knitting and watching television. I wish I could be Ebenezer Scrooge on the outside of the window, seeing you and knowing both sides. It certainly feels like that kind of night as I write this. Most experiences like these are strong pushes to look for the Lord speaking into it. I’m always learning from what I see and asking how I can use it in my own parenting and marriage.
I won’t be the same, Mom. I will use this lens of hope and understanding you have given me as a final parting gift here on Earth to look upon others and cast away my assumptions. For I believe that as God formed us in our mother’s wombs, He planted seeds of our identity. Seeds that as they sprout, whenever they sprout, bear blooms of righteousness and redemption. Thank you for this gift. Pray for me, Mom, as I will pray for you. You are free of the shackles that bound you here on Earth. May your spirit soar with the angels you so dearly loved to collect as you watch down on us from above.
Copyright 2020 MaryBeth Eberhard
Image: Andrea Piacquadio (2017), Pexels
About the Author
MaryBeth Eberhard spends most of her time laughing as she and her husband of 22 years parent and school their eight children. She has both a biological son and an adopted daughter who have a rare neuromuscular condition called arthrogryposis and writes frequently about the life experiences of a large family and special needs. You can read more of her work at MaryBethEberhard.com.