I’ve tried to ignore it all weekend, but it still occupied my thoughts–it was Father’s Day. Does it upset me because my father is gone? No. My dread of this weekend really doesn’t have much to do with it being Father’s Day. It is because it was Father’s Day weekend 2001 that I lost my mom. She died suddenly, unexpectedly. Our last communication with her was when she called my husband that Saturday evening to wish him a Happy Father’s Day.
I called her Monday, June 18, to let her know the boys had a baseball game near her home at 6:00pm. She didn’t drive at night anymore, so this was one she could get to and be home before dark. She loved baseball! I left a message on her machine, but she didn’t call me back. And she didn’t show up at the game, odd. But I knew she was planning to go away sometime that week, maybe she had already left. The next day I got a call that Mom didn’t show up to a lunch with cousins. She never missed those. I drove to her house to check on her.
The minute I walked in, I knew there was something wrong. The pantry door was open. A box of ice cream cones sat on the counter. For my mom, this was a mess. She would never have left her kitchen like this. I called for her but got no response. I went into her bedroom. There she was. Was she sleeping? No. I saw something on her neck and quickly identified it as the last inch or so of an ice cream cone. Taking in the scene, I knew her wish had come true. After her mother had died suddenly, she said she hoped she went the same way. She won. My grandmother died while cleaning. My mom died while lying in bed, reading a book, and eating ice cream.
At the funeral and throughout the first year as holidays and birthdays came and went, well-wishers would say, “It gets easier.” I kept thinking it must. But it didn’t. Then the boys weddings and babies came. Mixed with the joy of each occasion was a sadness that Mom would have loved seeing them get married and rocking her great-grandbabies. But it wasn’t to be. It would never be. And then there were the Father’s Day weekends. As hard as I try, I can’t get through one without tears. Plus, it reminds me that July 4 is right around the corner. The Fourth of July is perhaps the only holiday worse than Father’s Day. My dad died on July 4, 1998. Nope, it hasn’t gotten easier.
I wonder sometimes about people whose loss has gotten easier. Has it really or do they just say that to protect their own emotions? Maybe it really has gotten easier for them. Maybe they didn’t lie on purpose. I need to keep my cynicism in check. I’m working on that.
I also need to remember that grief and tears are not bad things. Memories, even the difficult ones, are precious. At times like today, I am also reminded that I have a heavenly Father who is near to the brokenhearted. My mom’s pain and tears are gone, and one day mine will be too. I can’t wait to see her again.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4