Updated: Aug 20
Love people in this moment and exactly where they are, for you cannot know their journey in the past and their direction in the future. Unknown
About 6 years ago, my mother fell ill. Today, she is no longer on dialysis because of her strength and dedication to living a healthier lifestyle. We are so thankful! I am reminded of the lessons I learned then, and I hope you can glean from my experience. The following was written back then:
Just a few days ago, my mom was not herself. She sounded melancholy and sluggish. Understandably, as she has been ill. But tonight, hearing her voice was the sweetest sound to my ear because it reminded me of how sweet Jesus is. How merciful. How kind. How long-suffering. How there is no Life without Him. She sounded refreshed. She sounded like my Mommy. We take the little things for granted. I am guilty of this. It takes situations and circumstances like this to remind us of what's important and who's important in our lives.
When I was in college, I used to call my mom every day, without fail. Over time, I got tired. I felt like I was playing the Mommy role and she was the one playing the Daughter role, and that hurt me. I resented her for that. You'd have to know my whole life story to truly understand, but I know I'm not alone in how I felt. Some of you can already relate; I know it. I decided to stop calling her, knowing that if I didn't call her, she wouldn't call me either. So...we didn't talk...for a very long time. Over the years, that pattern has been consistent. We call each other once in a blue moon. Every once in a while there's a tugging on my heart. I would say to myself, "Self, you should really call your mom. It's not gonna hurt. You know you want to." But many times, I decided not to call.
Once I became a mom, that tugging grew more frequent. It grew stronger. I even recognized that my mom was calling me more since Nnenna was born, yet I still resisted. I ignored that little voice of reason and goodness inside of me. We all have a process...a story...a testimony. I know I had to go through those phases and gain those life experiences to understand my mom's position. To gain more empathy and compassion for a mom I felt had made so many mistakes. Because at the end of the day, she's my Mommy. She's the mom God blessed me with. She's the only person on this planet Earth who's voice resonates in my heart, mind, spirit and soul as Mommy. That is irreplaceable.
She is irreplaceable.
The doctor told my mom and my sisters this morning that: Had she waited 2 more days, she would have passed away in her sleep due to a heart attack. This was on Saturday night. My mom wanted to wait until Monday just to call her doctor. My little sister had been trying to convince her for days. I also talked to her on Saturday night. She did not seem to want to budge. Praise God, my little sister was able to finally convince her to allow her to take her to the ER shortly after. What a mighty and awesome God we serve. No one can tell me otherwise. It ain't over til God says it's over!
The Word of God in Ephesians 6:1-3 tells us:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise, "so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Notice there are no qualifiers for your father and mother; the qualifier rests on you. I don't know what tomorrow, next week, month, year...the next hour, minute, or second holds, but I thank God that in that very moment I was able to get the lesson and that I have a chance to do things differently now. I know it can be challenging and beyond our understanding when we are a certain age, but it's too critical not to consider and take to heart: Don't take your loved ones for granted, especially not your parents. Our parents are not perfect. And guess what? Neither are we. Nor are we as parents ourselves. Don't rebuke people without just cause; don't count their mistakes and shortcomings against them. Instead, choose to love them for everything they've done right.
2018 Update: I called my mom this morning. We still don't talk often, but I do call her, and she calls me sometimes, too. She shared that my nephew is taking up guitar at school. She was pleased to recount that my dad also took an interest in and took up the guitar at one point. I rarely give myself credit for any musical gifts or inclinations my kids have, but I've learned over the years that music definitely runs through my veins. I will forever treasure these gems I would have never mined if I hadn't picked up the phone to call my dear, imperfect, loving Mommy.
Shush Your Shame
Please know: I am fully aware that sometimes parents are utterly toxic, and you have to grieve that loss uniquely. I went to therapy for a couple-ish years to process much of what I can now write about, and I continue to work through life in other intentional ways. It's not an overnight thing, but healing can take place; healing will look different from one person to the next, one relationship to the next, and it will be an ongoing, ebb and flow kind of thing. Some of you have amazing relationships with your parent(s); don't take that for granted either. We only have them for a time: Give them flowers now [Reference: Flowers by India Arie].