The first one came in November of last year. I wasn’t expecting it and the sudden raw pain left me breathless.
It was nearing the end of yet another long work day. I was driving to the prayer room through rush hour traffic on Rt.1 alternately muttering at the lousy Virginia drivers and marveling at the glory of the Fredericksburg sunset. I was stopped at a red light, craning my neck to peer as far up and out of the windshield as I could, so so tired and desperately trying to drink in the wild beauty when the first memory came.
It had taken place about a week before she passed away. The morning had been painful, I’d pleaded through the tasks involved in getting her ready as the minutes swept passed and each detail seemed to take an eternity longer than normal. The family had arranged for a medical pickup to transport her to the dialysis clinic that morning due to her increasing weakness, and as the departure time approached I was weary from the battles that had already taken place.
But there was the knock on the door, I drew her wheelchair to meet him, let him maneuver her over the step and towards the vehicle as I ran back inside to get her bag. Coming around the side of the van I saw him finish securing the chair. I handed him the bag with one last instruction about the appointment and with a deep sigh turned to go when her voice stopped me.
It was tired and rough from having not been used much since waking. I turned to find her tired eyes locked on my face, searching my heart, freezing my breath in my lungs. She hadn’t looked at me once since I’d woken her, and as she was somewhat hard of hearing that had made it much harder to communicate with her throughout the difficult morning. Now she peered deep and long.
I whispered a ‘You’re welcome Ms.Margaret’, tripped up the driveway, shut the door and sank against it to weep.
All this in the time it took for the light to turn from red to green. The car behind me was honking because I had not turned, the traffic pounded past, the world flying by as my mind and my heart began to take timid steps toward remembering and unwinding my time with her.
I’d been so blinded by the painful fall of 2011 that I couldn’t have begun to foresee the journey the Lord had prepared for the beginning of 2012; learning how to love in the light of death. “Everywhere, everywhere Eucharisteo. The invitation. Give thanks, take the bread, swallow down the death, receive the very miracle; life in my bones” I’d written in my journal. Life with the Southern Lady, it was everywhere, everyday – Eucharisteo. The Invitation to give thanks and to surrender.
It happened again tonight. Feeling the edges of sick I’d avoided the large gatherings, aka, the Superbowl parties. Settling in to read I picked up Kisses from Katie when –
She was sitting in her red chair, reading the back of the book I’d just received in the mail as I waited excitedly to hear what she would think. She read the cover aloud, finishing with a dramatic, southern “WOW!” and gazed wondrously at me. “Why Christina, this sounds like something you would do, this girls sounds a lot like you!”
My heart had burned at her words, marveled that she thought so highly of me and I replied tearfully that I hoped someday to live as boldly as Katie Davis.
I sat in the silent kitchen, vision just as blurred, heart just as burned.
You can’t stop the heart from remembering. Can’t stop the flashes; they come like lighting with little warning and the moments, the memories sear themselves into my vision with such brilliance that it takes some time, lots of blinking and gulping for air before I can see again. I can’t change them. I can’t change a single moment, I just have to live with the flash as it was, and breath through the aftermath. Feel now what hurt too much to think or feel about at the end of last April. Cry when it requires tears, laugh at the joy, rejoice at the victories that we celebrated together, mourn for what I wish that I had done better.
And I’m realizing that life is those searing memories that I can’t seem to escape. It flashes with brilliance and is gone in a moment. I have to let myself feel the things that are bringing healing from living with Ms.Margaret’s dying. To hold onto the memory as it comes, learn from it, then let go. It stirs a wonder inside of me. What is it all unto? Those painful lessons, what were they preparing me for?
The Lord waits quietly to unveil the answers, which will flash with brilliance and be gone, searing memories into the vision that one day He will take time to explain. Life is pounding past us, urging, driving us to be swept away in it’s urgency while the Lord waits for us to stop and listen. To breathe with Him, to learn with Him. I’m becoming more aware that nothing is happenstance, nothing without meaning. All of the pieces that make up our days our weeks our years, fitting together and becoming a picture, leading us deeper into his plan that is far bigger than the puzzle we were staring at, thinking that the portrait of our individual lives was the goal.
Lord that I would see this moment, this evening, tomorrow morning with the eyes of the Spirit. To wonder and gaze and love Him with the moments, to take nothing for granted. That I would be drawn closer to the image of Your Son, Jesus. That I would be drawn deeper into Your story.