Friday, March 22, 2013

A Message From Above

One of the things my mom loved most was her Southern Living cookbooks. Each year, they publish the Annual Recipes volume, and my mom purchased them, year after year, since the inception in 1979.

She of course purchased the 2012 volume, and although we haven’t actually talked about it, I suspect at least one of us in the family will continue this tradition.

Over the years, Mama marked quite a few recipes. Each holiday season, she labored over the menu for weeks—paging through the Southern Living cookbooks, marking recipes, taking notes on a yellow legal pad, and finally emerging with the complete menu. I remember this tradition around Thanksgiving and Christmas time each year, for longer than I’ve been alive.

So, glancing at that full shelf of cookbooks in my parents’ house instantly causes a flashback of memories.

Yet another reason why it’s difficult to go to my parents’ house. She’s everywhere there—from the books to the kitchen, from the bedroom to the very lamps carefully chosen for each room.

In some ways, it feels like forever since she passed away.

Truthfully, it feels like it happened last night.

Nearly four months have passed, now. That seems like a long time, doesn’t it? Maybe.

I’m not sure why, but the last couple of weeks have been the toughest grief weeks I’ve had in months. I’ve felt needy, whiny, desperate, and forlorn. I've felt exhausted and weary, and because of that, I've had very (very) little energy. I’ve cried, I’ve been less than mature, and basically, I’ve pined for my mama.

The sense of loss is somehow deepening as the reality becomes more permanent. The sadness is somehow expanding as I step more into acceptance. And the darkness is somehow darker than I ever imagined it could be.

And yet, I’ve felt her close this week, too. I wasn’t sure why.

I checked the mail yesterday morning. I was running late, and I’d forgotten my glasses. I figured that since I’d forgotten to check the mail the night before, I’d check it on my way back upstairs.

I didn’t expect to receive anything so transformative.

I got a little note from Oxmoor House.

I instantly recognized that publisher—they publish the Southern Living Annual Recipes cookbooks. I stared at the note for a moment, and I got a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. A lump suddenly sprang into my throat.

I somehow knew that reading the contents of this note would change my day.

I opened the note and slowly read that I would soon be receiving a Southern Living cookbook.

I must have read my mom’s name over and over again. I stared at her name printed on that note for what may have amounted to a full minute—as if staring at her name harder would bring her back.

I threw the note down and said several confused curses under my breath, and I went on my way—my face already hot with tears streaming down.

I cried all the way to my destination, and when I got to the parking lot, I sat there with tears running down my face for a few minutes longer.

I even posted it to Facebook.

I didn’t know what to think, feel, or do. I was so confused that I wanted to call my dad right away—but, I didn’t, because it was only about 8:30 in the morning, and he might not have been up yet.

So I sat in wonder… at how such a thing could happen. How could she know? How did this note land in my mail box at precisely the time I needed it?

She didn’t always understand the way I needed to hear that she loved me, but she expressed it in so many other ways… ways that I didn’t even begin to truly get until after she died.

This is one of those ways—sharing her love of those cookbooks and Southern Living recipes with her daughters.

And the timing really couldn’t have been better, either. I needed a line of connection to her… I needed some sign that she hadn’t completely gone. I needed to know that even though her body is gone from this earth—I still have a Mama.

Message received. Loud and clear.

What’s even more beautiful is that after I posted the message on Facebook yesterday, I could feel my whole being wrapped in love and prayer and peace.

I calmed down. The tears subsided.

I slept hard last night—one of the most restful sleeps I’ve had in a while.

This morning, I woke up with a profound sense of gratefulness… a depth of which I wasn’t aware could exist. I am grateful for this life. For all that I have experienced, for all of those who have thought good things for me, said prayers for me, been there for me… grateful for David, grateful for my family, grateful for everything.

Thank you, Mama.

I love you, too.

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