I've never met anyone else like her. My mother is nothing like her. I loved her and love her still, but I never figured her out completely. I continue to puzzle over certain things in my mind but know I'll never know...at least until I've left this world, myself, because she's gone from here. I've written that already. I'm still reminding myself. The reminders don't skip light as stones across my heart but, instead, land heavy and rudely as rocks: the kind one picks up with both hands, the kind one grunts in throwing.
She lived for Jesus, yes, but she also lived for us to come home, and she made a home from nothing. It was a very real thing how she could sleep eleven of us, no problem, in her (single wide) trailer. No one on the floor. Just everything we needed. It hurt to empty out her home: to stand outside and know I'll never look up and see her waving from that door or porch again.
In the seven years I knew her, Jim and I never once arrived as early or lingered as long as she'd expected. It used to aggravate the snot out of me how we could communicate a time, nail it, and disappoint her, still. Already, I'm thinking I will miss this most, as it seems likely that no one else will ever be so excited to fold us in and keep us there. Maybe she knew there wouldn't be enough (that there's never enough) time. I don't know; I can't ask her.
She'd grown up hard and told me, once: she'd promised herself that, if she ever had children, she'd do everything in her power to make sure they felt loved. I came on the scene as her grown sons were getting married and understood right away that I had much to learn from her. Her sons' devotion toward her was one thing; their friends' devotion toward her was another. I wish you could have seen, last week, how these friends sent flowers and brought food, how they showed up over and over. How they wept with us. How they carried her casket.
I'm exhausted by emotion, but I've decided all over again to live out what she taught me. I've found out (or rediscovered) who my friends are. I've trust-fallen into the arms of my family and been caught. I've prayed new prayers (like: Father, please make me the friend to him that his mother was) and believed they'll be answered.
Clementine and Charleigh asked to see her one last time. Jim and I hadn't planned on this but didn't want to deny them the opportunity to say goodbye. We explained: all that's left is her body. Everything that makes her Mamaw is gone. The parts of her, we told them, that hug and talk and love and laugh are in heaven with Jesus. We believe this. We believe in new bodies over there, in many mansions over there.
I overhear Jim singing old hymns in the kitchen, and my heart swells. He could pull away, but instead, he draws closer. He draws closer to his Heavenly Father, and in so doing, he follows his mama right on out of this place. We're taking our time, but we're following her right on out. We're people of faith.