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It has been 4 years since my mom left.

She did not go of her own free will.
Nor did we let go of her, instead we held on tight until she slipped through our hands.  Cancer is a strong foe, but it did not win.

I remember laying with her in the last few weeks trying to say a lifetime of words.
Mom was already mourning us and she wasn’t gone.
It felt like it does when people you love roll down the windows in their car and yell a final ‘I love you’ as they drive off.
She said she was already missing what hadn’t yet happened, like the future weddings of my children, or the yet unplanned family thanksgiving and summer picnic.
I don’t know what was more painful the disease or the thought that she would miss every future moment together….who would bring the ‘macaroni and fake crab salad’.

She loved life so much, that dying was killing her.

I had heard a grief counsellor once say that ‘the table we set in our passing is the table our loved ones eat from when we’re gone’. That never felt more true.
I asked my mom to set out the fine china, fancy napkins, goblets for water, and crystal for wine. As we talked and laughed I assured her that she would not miss any of our unwritten future.
Soon she would always be on time and never have to leave early.

It’s funny now as I think about our words – the ones spoken and the ones missed.
Before she died I would see her 4-5 times a year at either end of a 3 hour drive.
Lately I have discovered her in the cloud of witnesses that surround my life.
When I take the time to think about what mom would do or say in any given moment
I struggle not to smile as I hear her cackle.
I have pictures of her in several rooms of my house that remind me of her presence.
I will often speak words of love and affection out loud to remind her of mine.

Grieving never gets easier or better, but if we let it do what it desires to, it does change.
The worse thing that we can ever do is to stay by the graveside indefinitely.
The grave is a dark empty hole.
My mom isn’t in there – she never was, in fact she left days before it was dug.
She was standing with me as I threw lilacs between shovels of earth and rock.

To stay by that stone marker would be to keep my mom at her grave.
Too many have stayed,
denying the transition that is held on pause.

Death is not the end unless we let it be the end.
It is a cruel farce that needs to be exposed.

I did not leave my mom in a pile of soil and stone,
I have taken her with me in my heart and soul.
She reminds me in whispers and sweet memories of the beauty that lies ahead.
Her Jesus asks us why we look for the living among the dead.

She is the Queen of my heart, who ruled her kingdom with love and laughter.

Grieve for those who’ve left you, but only if grieving means leaving too.
Leave the empty grave and find them in the beauty of life.
Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting it means moving and not standing still.
Don’t let their death be your death because your friends and your family will have lost you both. and your children will be orphans.

Instead, pull open the blinds and let the light of a new day in.
Don’t go to the grave to remember the dead,
go to be reminded of the living, and live.

As you live, set such an extravagant table setting that all who feed from your life will ask which fork to use first.


Share this post with someone who needs to remember to keep living till they die.
More thoughts on Grieving here ‘Grief Sucks, make sure you sucking on the right end of the stick