Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Saying Goodbye to My Mother-in-law

My mother-in-law left this world on May 30th, and I don't know that I have words, yet. There's at least one story brewing (that of the estate sale), but I doubt it will show up here. Elsewhere, maybe.

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 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.


  1. What a beautiful tribute, Brandee. Again, I'm so sorry for your loss. What a treasure she must have been.

  2. It will be very difficult to live without our loveable ones!

  3. Sending a hug. You put your heart into this post, and I just want to hug you.

  4. so beautiful Brandee. I think often about what I want people to say about me when I am gone, or will I have made an impact enough that people will miss me, she obviously did many and much more of those things for her family and friends. I am so glad you got to be her daughter and you were a good one too. Love you girl, I am so sorry your family has had to endure such pain but it is also beautiful to know she is communicating with Jesus face to face today. That puts a smile right back on the face doesn't it? Again, love you!

  5. Brandee,
    I'm so sorry for your family's loss. The best families are the ones like this: "You're all family to me". Both of my grandmothers were that way, so I know the kind of loss you are feeling. Your tribute is truly beautiful. I can only imagine 11 of you scattered throughout a single-wide! I remember 4 of us cousins in one bed in the "back bedroom" at Christmas, the older ones grumbling, us littler ones happy to have the warmth because that room was COLD! Of course, it drew us all closer as we'd lie there whispering until our parents would shush us so Santa could come.

    A truly heartfelt post, about a truly loving lady who deserves all the love you've shown her over the years. God bless you, and yours.

    Peace <3

  6. Brandee, I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. I loved this is such a beautiful tribute to her. The details took my breath away. I will be praying for you and your family <3 love you!

  7. She sounds like a true treasure. I look forward to meeting her Someday, the day when separations and horrible diseases are no more. Her deep love and friendship in life only make the grieving harder now, don't they? I'm so sorry for your loss and do pray with you that it drives you all closer to your Father and to each other. Nancy Leigh DeMoss quoted a pastor a while back as saying, "We [Christians] do not grieve without hope, but neither do we hope without grief." So I ask our Father to infuse your grief with profound and real hope.

    Grace and peace to you in Jesus, Brandee.

  8. Oh, Brandee. This is just so hard. She was WAY too young - same birth year as my husband! Please give Jim an extra hug - and tell him to give you one, from me. This is a lovely tribute, B - and I look forward to more words, whenever they show up. Love to you in the midst of this painful loss.