As Bryan and I prayed together this morning, he prayed that we'd live each day to the fullest - with no regrets - as life can change so much in a year, sometimes even in a day.
He is so right.
One year ago at this very moment, I was getting Zach ready for school, planning to meet with his principal after lunch and then set up for the school Mother/Son Skating Party later that afternoon. What I did not plan...and certainly did not anticipate...was my mother passing away while I was at that meeting with the principal and receiving the news of her death while setting up for that party.
My life changed in a big way that day.
And it has continued to change ... oddly enough, to grow ... in ways I never could have expected over the next 12 months.
(I'm closing in on 40... When I was younger, I thought I knew it all. Funny how I'm finding every day just how much more I need to learn and grow up.)
An immediate change was the overwhelming and natural relational pull towards my sister. There had been so many hurt feelings and unresolved issues between us for years, but those issues were non-issues in the days and weeks following Mom's death. Miraculously, long over-due conversations were had, forgiveness granted, assumptions no longer made, insecurities checked at the door. The old issues have remained non-issues. We were always sisters in the family-tree sort of way... that whole "God gave me a sister" thing, but now we have CHOSEN also to be friends. It is a precious gift to be friends with my sister again. A gift to each of us, and to our children and our brother. There's peace, joy and unity for the family as a whole.
Realizing that one will not live forever has effected us. As has realizing that it was not our mother that connected us, but our choices and attitudes towards one another.
Look at us growing up...
And then there's my brother, Kerry. My younger brother on my dad's side.
Over the course of the last 12 months, my life grew in a way that led me to him. I'd been slowly moving towards him for 15 years...but losing my mom, regaining my sister, and finding my footing as a parentless child, resulted in a spotlight on the brother-sized hole in my heart. And I finally had the courage - the peace - to pursue contacting him. Having gotten to know him, I kick myself for not having looked for him sooner.
In a year's time, I have lost my mother and gained a sister and a brother (and sister-in-law!). Six grandkids have mourned the loss of their grandmother...while also establishing new relationships with their cousins, aunts and uncles. It is certainly bittersweet.
I praise God that my mother is no longer in pain, no longer ill, no longer suffering. I take comfort and rejoice in the knowledge that she has spent the last 12 months with her heavenly father in utter wholeness. Oh, what that must look like.
But I miss her. Everyday. How I wish she'd have seen my siblings and me together, in peace, loving one another.
And I praise God for his hand in every moment. He has been so clearly all over all of this. I am overwhelmed and humbled by his interest in our lives, his compassion and love for us. His ever-presence and power is completely incomprehensible.
I am so very grateful that the life experience that awaits us all - death - does not have to be a gloomy finality, but can be a growing and feeding experience as well. In the days and weeks following Mom's death, I experienced love, care, compassion and generosity in a special way that I'd never known before. In the months since, I have grown and risked beyond my wildest imagination.
As my feet hit the ground today, I pray that I will live without regret, without fear, without holding back. And, while I simply cannot imagine what more God has in store for my life, I look forward to what is coming.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10