I am doing well (some days), but on the days I am not, I spend them thanking God for my life and the life I still enjoy, and I thank Him for my children.
This part of the journey has not been without its lessons, as we know God wraps every situation in a blessing box and offers it to us even amid our grief.
My eldest daughter went to pick up her little sister’s items to bring to me, along with ashes, necklaces filled with her ashes, and beautiful pictures. The inebriated boyfriend threatened to throw them out or give them away if we did not get them “right away.”
I was so angry, but get this. Among the daily prayers I receive from others either by text or phone or postings on Facebook, my grandson, the one I raised from infancy, prays with me at least thrice weekly.
As we waited for more from the toxicologist, my mind took on a life of its own, and I began wondering what happened to my daughter. I created scenarios where he (the boyfriend) had more to do with her death than he was letting on.
So, when my grandson was praying, he also threw in a little side prayer for the man, asking God to protect him from any harm, retaliation, or retribution that might come to mind. I had been so in agreement with that prayer up until that point. My heart was developing a crust, an armor, and a bitterness that ismissed this man and skirted the edges of some pretty dark thoughts.
I thought about the way I wept and applauded those folks who come on television or you see in movies, forgiving the person who took the life of THEIR person. It’s so easy to do on the other side of the screen. I have hollered “Amen” and “Hallelujah” for those people, but here I was with my crusty heart, steeped in a sorrow so deep that I needed an enemy, a scapegoat, for all my unanswered questions.
Off the phone with my grandson, I began crying again, asking God’s forgiveness for my thoughts, and I placed whatever I did not know in God’s hands. He and the young man see the truth, though the death certificate does not mention foul play, so the police are called off.
So, my daughter Karen collected bags, boxes, and duffel bags, keeping me on speaker phone as she gathered things from a “now sober” man who protested that he did not mean it the way he said it. So, this past Monday, Karen showed up with everything, and my knees gave way. I began touching and smelling my daughter in those things, talking to her as if she was still here, and my daughter was crying for her little sister. We were such a mess, but mourning must be done in full measure so that we begin to live again.
I have been going through each bag. Feeling her, sensing her intention for specific actions, remembering how I had gone through my mother’s belongings, looking not for expensive stuff but personal treasures, the things we shared, and her accomplishments.
Among Nikki’s things, I found so much. Her towels were folded the way the women in our family fold them. Undies were in discreet plastic bags, some clean, some not, ready for the laundry, a gazillion pairs of shoes, shirts, and jeans folded upon each other, and then I encountered the little Jesus book. Despite all she has been through, Nikki was holding on to what I tried to give and share with all my children. Even in my drinking years, I offered God as a refuge, and they have not forgotten. Then the little purse that says, “Today I think I will just be happy.”
Nikki suffered a lot as a child. Sexual abuse, low self-esteem, etc, but she had the sweetest heart. I could “feel” her heart as I sorted her things.
We will be doing the family celebration, and as I said, I will stand up as Minister and Mommy. I am making the programs, but perhaps we will not need them. We intend to speak on her life. Her children may or may not be there. I have already announced that if someone has something against anyone else, please do not attend.
I intend to speak about the importance of sorrow. It is hard work, but it draws us closer to our Lord.
I remember a little poem my mother taught me a long time ago. I was a teen and did not understand her endless parables.
I walked a mile with pleasure; she chattered but left me none the wiser for all she had to say.
I walked a mile with sorrow; never a word said she, but I learned things from her when sorrow walked with me. I did not get it until I was older and had learned from heavy doses of suffering.
I thank God for my children: those here and those gone before. I move in God’s light and love, and I know He is currently using this experience as a stepping stone for my next assignment.