Monday, January 12, 2015

Six Years

Terrie Lynn Walker was hilarious & kind. She loved children, antique tin signs & read more than anyone I've ever met (her favorite genre being horror). She had an enormous, thrifted Garth Brooks t-shirt that she wore until it disintegrated. She always wanted to travel, though she never had a passport, and she dreamt of going back to school to work with disabled children. She would give her last five dollars to someone if they needed it. She read tabloids & spoke about celebrities like she actually knew them. "I can't believe Brad dumped Jennifer. Does he seriously think he can do better than her? This Angie thing isn't going to last." She drank beer with lime salt on the rim. She listened to Kenny G & Kid Rock. She was brave, fun & loved people with her entire heart. She remains equally the most generous & bad-ass person that I've had the extreme pleasure of knowing in real life.

As of today, it has been six years since my mama went home to be with Jesus. The further I get away from the day that the most devastating news of my life changed everything, the more I worry that I'm forgetting things about her. At the moment my dad broke the news to me over the phone, I remembered everything I had ever learned about her. Six years later I can't honestly say that. Of course I can remember plenty of the arbitrary info; birthdate, social security number (from years of filling out paperwork for her), wedding anniversary & place of birth. I can remember the last time we spoke on the phone, but I can't remember the sound of her cough. I'm starting to forget what she smelled like. I can't remember the exact sound of her voice or the tone of her laugh. I can't remember the brand of lotion she used or the way she took her coffee.

One of my biggest fears is that in ten years, there won't be anything left. I worry that I'll never forget the grief that has attached itself to her memory but all of the good, amazing things of who she was will be obscured by time & my imperfect memory. How will I accurately describe her to children who will never know their grandmother? How will I paint them a word picture that is her, fully & completely?

My Mom & Dad's wedding day-1981 

Camping at Sheriff's Reservoir

I think the answer is that I won't be able to. In the same way you can't perfectly describe a sunset to a sightless person who will never see one, I won't ever be able to describe the way my mother shined brilliantly in a world that is darker now that's she's gone.

In A Grief Observed C.S. Lewis said, "The death of a beloved is an amputation".  It is true that a part of me will be never be the same now that my mother is gone. I may never be able to describe her in a way that does her complete justice. I may forget things about her that I wish I could remember for the rest of my life. But I'll never forget the way she showed my brother & I what it means to be a mother. To care so selflessly & completely. I'll never forget the way she loved & treated people with respect. Maybe I don't need to remember her perfectly. Maybe the best way to keep her light shining is to live & love the way she taught me to.

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