I’m starting to forget what her voice sounds like. I can remember her laugh, though. I’m starting to forget what she looked like just any old day. I have pictures, of course, to remind me and even have some home videos to remind me of her voice. But they’re not the same. I don’t remember how she looked when she’d raise her fork to her mouth while eating. I don’t remember the way she carried herself. I remember her feet and how she would fall asleep in her blue recliner while watching TV and waiting for my dad to come home from work. It’s just strange tidbits now that don’t quite add up to make a full picture. I suppose that’s what 10.5 years gone will do to those of us left behind.
But then I think about how I remember my Gram even though it’s been 11 years since her passing, and I don’t worry so much. Memory ebbs and flows, comes and goes. It’s not the memories of her physicality that are very important, anyway. It’s the memory of how she lived, what she strove for, what she did and said that are important and make up who she is. For instance, Mommabear was very good and staying in contact with all of the family– both her side and my dad’s– and cultivating relationships with them and for us with them. Me, on the other hand, well, I’m pretty terrible at keeping up well with people. If it wasn’t for text messaging and Twitter, it would be very easy for me to fall off the grid. But the memory my mom reminds me how important community and relationships are and that helps me overcome my weaknesses.
I miss her, though. As I should.
While watching MasterChef, there was an episode where each home cook was surprised by a visit from a beloved family member. The youngest home cook, a college-aged woman, was the last to see her surprise guest. It was her mom. When she realized she was seeing her mom for the first time in weeks and having undergone so many trials and tribulations and successes and joys, she was ecstatic. She ran to her mom with tears streaming down her face, desperately clutched her when they embraced, and sobbed, “Mom.” Relief, joy, comfort, safety, pride, happiness, flooded her. And I almost began to cry at the enormity of this special moment. This is what my heavenly reunion with my mom will be like, I thought, the weight of what that moment will be overtaking me.
Thinking on what that moment will be more, I was struck by how much I want to feel like that when I embrace Mama Mary for the first time and then Jesus. My mom leads me to Mary, who leads me to Jesus. The relief, the comfort, the joy, the enormity of those moments.
And then I think, how much more Mary felt the separation from her son, first when He was lost in the temple and only for a few days; she embraced her little son Jesus like that home cook embraced her mom. Then, after Jesus rose from the dead and came to His mother. And finally, when she was assumed into heaven after Jesus ascended there. The relief, the joy, the comfort, the pride, the enormity.
Although it is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, I feel relief, joy, and comfort. The woman who understands my pain of separation embraces me, knows the sorrow, knows the joy that awaits. That is why I love Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows so immensely– though her sorrow runs so deep, she does not wallow in it; her sorrows spring from hope. In the heart of Mary, I find the heart of Mommabear and the heart of Christ and my hope is restored.