Relationships & Death of mothers. (Heaven Reflections on Death of Susan’s Mother) (Jan. 2008)

Susans' Thursday morning note January 20, 2008
Thoughts on Heaven.  Anniversary of death of Susan's Mother
Things My Mother Told Me – poetry by Maria Gillan 
            Analogy of Russian Nesting dolls with relationships of mothers, grandmothers, daughters…
Just Life by Melanie Wilkinson
            Seeing face of your mother when you look in the mirror.
Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by John & Stasi Eldredge.  
            Grief.  “Let the tears come.”

Good morning!  Outside is another perfect blanket from snow last night.  I love those blankets when they are still so clean and fresh and bright.  We got in 150 boxes on Monday (the UPS man still isn’t making eye contact with me – it takes about a week for him to forgive me after those deliveries!).  I’ll list below what has come in so far to fill up our kids’ room again!  Thank you so much for your continued business.  You have no idea all of the catalogs saved of new lines I want to get for all of you – your continued business and telling about our store to others is why we’re growing & growing.  I can’t tell you enough how much I love trying to find great books and children’s games/toys for you!

I am having a hard time putting into words what I’d like to write today.  This is again the week of the anniversary of my mom dying.  Seven years ago on January 20.  It never ceases to amaze me how the tape recorder begins playing in my head leading up to the day – regardless of whether I have pushed the play button and given it permission to play.  There is no pause button for me to push.  This is the first year out of seven that I don’t have the tight chest.  I have a peace that I can’t describe.  Did I grow up suddenly?!?!?  Why did it take seven years?  And then I don’t want to put that in writing, for who knows if on the 20th (or within the hour!) I’ll have the tightness and pain again.  Now that I know what to expect it’s not so difficult.  I know so many of you have lost your moms, or have friends that have.  That’s why I’m sharing this.  I hope for the sake of helping you with words that have helped me.  Once again – finding words of others that when I read I exclaim in my head, “Oh, YES!  That’s how I feel!!!” I hope that you find comfort in the words I love and want to share with you.

In December I read a poem on Garrison Keillor’s web site ( – make this a shortcut!).  The poem was by Maria Gillan, a poet from the east coast that I have since read four books of her writings.  She reminds me of our Nebraskan poet, Ted Kooser, for she writes as she thinks.  I love that.  Here is a poem that I read last night on her mother from her book Things my Mother Told Me.  A beautiful poem that I completely understood.  If you have shied away from poetry, let these two authors be a beginning for you to enter the world of poetry that is just opening for me.

Heritage by Marie Gillan:

I'm like those Russian peasant dolls
made of lacquered wood where the larger dolls open
to reveal smaller dolls, until finally
the smallest doll of all stands, unseamed and solid.

When you open me up: my mother, her mother,
my daughter, my son's daughter.  It could go on forever,
the way I carry them inside me.
Only their voices emerge, and when
I speak to my daughter,
I hear their words tangled in my own.

Ma, when you died, I thought I'd lost you forever;
grief washes over me
when I pass your barren garden and remember
the tomatoes that grew so wildly while you
watched from the bedroom where you were dying;
or when I walk into your basement kitchen
and see that it is grimy with neglect;
or when I see Dad sitting in the big recliner,
his legs covered by a blanket you crocheted
and a picture of you propped up
on the table next to him,
but when I open myself
you are still there inside me and I am safe,
even though I cannot drive to your house
or sit down while you pour me an espresso.

This is the way it is with me -
you are nested inside me,
your voice a whisper that grows clearer
with each day.
I received another book this fall from a new friend in York that writes a local column and is now an author of personal stories and reflections, Just Life by Melanie Wilkinson.  I highly recommend this book on all facets of life.  I laughed so hard at her mishaps and I cried with her over the writings on her personal growth after the loss of three family members when she’s only in her 30’s.  This is one of my favorite excerpts – how she loved to watch her mom through the mirror as she got ready in the mornings, how she stood next to her in the mirror getting ready for prom, how she couldn’t look in the mirror for she was so alone dressed in black for the funeral, how dressed in white she saw her mom in the mirror in her sister’s faces – she was in them, but then…  (my favorite lines)…

“The other morning, I was getting ready for work.  I was tired and in a hurry.  As I flipped my hair up and my face flashed onto the mirror, I almost fell down with surprise.  My heart stopped.  There she was.  My mother was looking back at me, through my eyes, my features.  I smiled at myself and I realized she would always be with me…Our mothers are part of us forever, and because of that we are never alone.  All we have to do is look in the mirror.”
And – one more book that I read out of this week, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John & Stasi Eldredge.  Staci writes this beautiful paragraph on grief…

Part of the reason women are so tired is because we are spending so much energy trying to “keep it together”.  So much energy devoted to suppressing the pain and keeping a good appearance.  “I’m gonna harden my heart”…sang Rindy Ross.  “I’m gonna swallow my tears.” A terrible, costly way to live your life.  Part of this is driven by fear that the pain will overwhelm us.  That we will be consumed by our sorrow.  It’s an understandable fear – but it is no more true than the fear we had of the dark as children.  Grief, dear sisters, is good.  Grief helps to heal our hearts.  Why, Jesus himself was “Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is 53:3)

Let the tears come.  Get alone, get to your car or your bedroom or the shower and let the tears come.  Let the tears come.  It is the only kind thing to do for your woundedness.  Allow yourself to feel again.  And feel you will – many things.  Anger.  That’s okay.  Anger’s not a sin.  Remorse.  Of course you feel remorse and regret for so many lost years.  Fear.  Yes, that makes sense.  Jesus can handle the fear as well.  In fact, there is no emotion you can bring up that Jesus can’t handle.  (Look at the psalms – they are a raging sea of emotions.) Let it all out.  As Augustine wrote in his Confessions, “The tears…streamed down, and I let them flow as freely as they would, making of them a pillow for my heart.  On them it rested.” Grief is a form of validation: it says the wound mattered.  It mattered.  You mattered.  That’s not the way life was supposed to go.  There are unwept tears down in there – the tears of a little girl who is lost and frightened.  The tears of a teenage girl who’s been rejected and has no place to turn.  The tears of a woman whose life has been hard and lonely and nothing close to her dreams.  Let the tears come.

All meant so much to me this week, so I had to share them with you.  I pray that you will find comfort if you need comfort yourself, or that you will have something to give to a friend if you know they need comfort.  What is interesting to me now is that I’m not sure I’d want to not have gone through loss.  For I am realizing (oh, so slowly) of what deep love I can receive from God – what comfort I can find if I will let him.  Fall to my knees, look up.  Such comfort.  Such joy.  “The joy of the Lord is my strength!” – Now, all of you – go take on your day & your week.  Once again, do something that will make yourself proud, something only you know you’ve done.  Thank you so much for letting me enter your world on Thursdays.  Susan

Latin for this week: 
("Mortem vincit amor” - Love survives even after the death of someone close.
(Love (AMOR) survives/prevails (VINCIT) even after the death (MORTEM) of someone close.)

Works Cited:
Gillan, Maria. Things My Mother Told Me 
Wilkinson, Melanie.  Just Life.   
Eldredge, John and Stasi.  Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul.  Nashville.  Thomas Nelson.  2011.