Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mom: Sweet Comfort

I don't know how to do grief.  Part of me wishes there was a manual, a check list, anything that would resemble order.

A few days after my mom died, Julia had an orthodontist appointment.  We drove the long Steilacoom-Dupont Road in silence.  The only thing on my mind was the memory of my mom driving me to countless orthodontic appointments.   And here I was, doing the same for Julia.  In some ways it was a nice thought.  However, the sweet memory was overshadowed by the fact that I could not remember my orthodontist's name.  He was a kind man and  made what could have been a traumatic adolescent experience a happy memory.  No matter how hard I thought, his name escaped me.

As we arrived at Julia's appointment, we pulled in to the parking stall and the tears just welled up.  My mom will never see Julia graduate.  Where did that come from?!  It was like a stark wake up call.  I blinked a dozen times to capture the tears and press them back in for another time.

Fortunately that is not the end of this story.  Two days later we were reading through mom's journals.  We found a beautiful one from 1997.  I opened this particular journal and read the following:

"Ted Barksdale died Wednesday - he was Nancy's orthodontist - her favorite doctor - died of cancer. The memorial service is next Thursday.  I will be able to go..."

And there was my answer, my Orthodontist's name was Dr. Barksdale.  Of all thoughts that would consume me...a name of a former doctor, then of all entries to read...only God could orchestrate something so specific.

She ends that entry with, "God give rest to his soul and strengthen his family."

And there was the second answer, mom had prayed for God to strengthen this man's family.  And that is what God will do for ours.  When graduation comes and my heart is sad all over again, the Lord will strengthen us, as He has done over and over again for countless others.

I don't know when the next "random" wave of grief will hit.  I don't know what will trigger a soft spot in my heart.  I do know I am thankful for a mom that loved others and loved God...such sweet comfort.