June 9, 2013
I sat on the edge of the bed, looking out the window at the rain falling on a herd of cows eating that most super green Alabama grass…and I held her. 7 years old. I’ve always joked that she’s the Omega of the bunch. I’m the Alpha, the eldest. She’s the last of the 7 siblings. And I’ve never held her like this, cradled in my arms like if she was from my own womb. I try to turn her face towards me but she’s hiding her eyes, digging her snotty nose on my shoulder.
I’m fumbling for the right words to talk about the deepest wounds a heart can feel. Don’t overshoot. She’s only 7, but clearly she’s sobbing uncontrollably, so she’s not disconnected. She’s aware. I didn’t see her sneak out of the room while my dad shared and I translated to English the hardest moments of his life, the ones that feel like you’re peeling the skin off of your heart slowly & bleeding to death. My 5 siblings, their 6 cousins, and my dad’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law were all sitting on the edge of their seats listening, because they wanted to hear the story about the ring. Ahh. The ring. The golden yellow ring on my right hand. My mom’s wedding ring lost… and found… 3 times. I didn’t quite think it was the right time/place to tell this story at this family reunion… but I was caught off guard when my dad says, “translate for me, I just need 15mins.” Yeah right. That’s what he always says! My neck muscles tensed up. I wasn’t quite up for this. JUST15 minutes. He’s a preacher so 15 turned into 45 minutes… 40 of those minutes I’m digging my nails into my palm, bad habit I’ve always had to keep me from crying. Sara L got up towards the end of the story to another room to cry. Someone finds her. Dad goes to get her. I peel her off of his arms and ask, please let ME talk to her daddy? He nods. He’s never been good at talking to his crying daughters. So I leave to a quiet place to talk to the baby of the bunch.
“Tell me, what part of the story made you sad?” I whisper it. She answers me in between a sob and the next, trying to catch her breath… “the part about the plane crash…” Well, heck, no wonder. That’s the part that always gets me, too, when I retell the story. My heart grips.
“You know, I’m sorry you had to hear that story. I didn’t realize you were sitting there & that was too much information for you to hear. But you know? It’s okay to cry! Seeing you cry reminds me that I used to cry just-like-THIS when I was a little girl, when I cried because I missed my mommy…” The sobbing wave increases rather than calm down. GREAT. You’re doing GREAT Ines. Maybe you should call her mom because uhm, you’re failing at this. Fumbling for words… how do you talk to a young girl… heck I don’t know, no one ever talked to me when I was 11 and I cried myself to sleep…So I’m a bit clueless.
Next try. “Sara Lydia, thanks for crying because it means that you care for others, but you don’t have to keep crying because I’m okay. I’m not crying anymore. When I tell that story about my mom dying in that plane crash, it’s hard bec it reminds me and I get sad for a minute, but the same way I’m holding you now, is how God used to hold me to make me feel better when I was sad. And guess what? I’m going to see my mommy again, she’s in heaven, and one day I will see her again, and there will be no more sadness, no more tears, no more plane crashes, life will be perfect when we go to where God lives forever.”
She looked up at me and smiled. Eyes red. Innocent heart broken for her big (half) sister. Amazing maturity. She’s asked before, wanting to know who my mom was, and how come Papa had another wife before her mommy. Kind hearted. She sympathizes. Even at 7, she feels some of the pain that you feel as a child when one of your wings gets broken away. It feels like torture to fly with one wing.
“Have I ever shown you a picture of my mommy?”
Big smile, “yes! she looks like you!” My heart smiles back and I kiss her cheeks 10 times. She starts giggling. “Well I’m going to have to show you more pictures when we get back home!… Do you feel better now?” She nods shyly. Of course I said a few more things to talk thru my feelings of that day and her feelings today, but you all get the summarized version.
Some things come late in life, like NOT when you needed them the most. But this consolation, tho late by 24 years, came at just the right time. Right when I needed to see big tears, like used to be mine, and strong mother-arms, like mine now, comforting, like only God does. As I held Sara Lydia, and my fairly new mom-heart feels mom emotions, I rocked her and God told me, “This is how I held you that night when you cried yourself to sleep. I collected and wiped your tears of terror. I saw you. I held you. I was with you.” Lately, God has been going out of His way to show me literally, how He was with me on that day. Or giving me someone with skin on to show me, remind me, speak to me, pray for me, communicate His unfailing love to my doubting heart. Lately it’s been scary to be vulnerable, almost unbearable. (In fact I’ve waited 2 weeks to post this…)
“Remember Sara, you don’t have to be sad for me anymore, okay? God has always been with me. He makes sad stories turn into joyful stories. Because of my story God brought you into my life, and Micah…and Monica…and Caleb… and Marta… and your Mommy.
God brought you into my life and you make me smile and not cry.”
She smiles. I smile. God smiles. Surely my mom can see me right?
Reminds me of a song we used to sing in college….
Your love reaches high, up to the heavens, so high above
Your love, covers me and I find shelter under Your wings
How priceless! How precious is Your unfailing love!
How priceless! How precious is Your unfailing love!
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountain!
Your justice is deeper than the sea!
and your priceless blood was poured out for me
You shed Your blood and died for me!
You gave your life for me!
I rocked her like a baby… and that’s when I realized, He’s always held me. He’s never let go.