Sometimes People Leave You Halfway Through the Wood

Sometimes people leave you, halfway through the wood. Do not let it grieve you, no one leaves for good.
— Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods

As I spend the day remembering my Mother, I am aware of how drastic my life has changed over the course of a year. I got engaged and married my best friend. I moved to a different state, far away from everyone I have ever known or loved. I traveled around the world, seeing and doing things I had never seen or done before. I shared triumphs and trials with those closest to me and learned things about myself and about the type of person I want to become. I watched helplessly while BJ lost his Father, and I watched my own family change and grieve for the loss of my Mother. Yet with all these life changes, I am made painfully aware that she wasn’t here for any of it. It seems surreal to me, almost like I have been watching the past year of my life through someone else.

When I woke up this morning, I realized I no longer remember the sound of mom’s voice. I can remember her face and the way she smelled but not the way she sounded.

I can no longer remember what she was like before she was sick. We have photos of her putting together birthday parties and hosting family gatherings, yet I can’t remember any of it. It’s like I have amnesia and I can only see her in my mind the way she was the last month she was alive.

I am reminded daily of something I wish I could tell her and know I will never get the chance to. I am saddened that she wasn’t there for our wedding and that she won’t be there for any future milestones. I often wonder if she could see me, and our family now, what would she say? What would she think about where we are a year later?

I think often about what it meant to have a mother who was sick for 10 years. It meant that our family was close, held together by a common purpose in caring for another person. It also meant being distant from one another as the stress of watching a loved one deteriorate affected us at different times. We were so prepared to lose her and yet not prepared at all. It’s only in her passing that I realize she was the glue that held our family together. Not because of her sickness but because of the person she was.

While I am in a new phase in life, I am constantly plagued with the question of what is my purpose or calling in life? Am I doing what I am supposed to do? It got me thinking about my Mother and what her calling was. Some might say it was to have children or be a wife and that her sickness was something unfortunate that happened to her. I think, however, her purpose was fulfilled by becoming sick. As unfair as that seems, she traded her health to fulfill God’s purpose. I watched but didn’t appreciate her unashamed faith that came from the death sentence of a terminal illness. I can remember the embarrassment I felt every time she shared her story with the Wal-Mart checkout lady and told her about the amazing God she had. I am aware now that I tell no one of my faith or what God has done for me. I watched as she touched everyone she came in contact with and offered comfort to those in similar situations. She never once complained about the hand she had been dealt, because I don’t think she saw it as a misfortune but as an opportunity. I can remember in her final weeks she said, to no one in particular, “I wish I could go outside.” Something people do everyday and take for granted is the one thing she wished she could do in some of her last moments of conscious thought. If only we all lived more that way, unashamed of our faith, blessing people with words of comfort and honesty, appreciating all the little things in life that bring us happiness.

I may never get the chance to know the person she was before her illness, but I know I will spend a lifetime trying to become the person she would have wanted me to be.

The quote at the beginning of this blog is one I keep coming back to. A reminder, that sometimes people leave you, halfway through your life. How blessed am I to know a God who promises that these people do not leave for good, and promises that I will see them again.