AMY LANGHAM DIRECTOR OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION PORTER
Blessed are they who mourn; For they shall be comforted - Mt 5:4
My mama was my best friend, my confidant, my editor, my bad singer in crime, my kindred spirit. I went to her for advice, I fought with her, she was the first one that taught me my Catholic faith and how important it was to her. Her actions showed me how to live the life of ministry.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is one of the toughest challenges any of us will ever face. You never know how fast life can be taken away from you.
"I am sorry to say... your Mom is gone."
It was Friday morning, I was at work early because I was going to spend a few days with my Mama at the hospital in St Louis. She was diagnosed less than three weeks before with aggressive cancer. My uncle called my siblings and I (we were all on a four-way call), he said, I am sorry to say... your Mom is gone. I was in shock; we found out less than two weeks prior that she had cancer, but she was supposed to get out of the hospital and treat the cancer. How did this horrible cancer take her that fast? I am still in shock; it’s been a month since I lost my Mama. I thought reflecting on my feelings about losing my Mama would be a good idea to help my grieving process and overcome with God’s grace. To die, suddenly seemed to be a blessing and a curse. It has been hard trying to write about her passing. After a few hundred words, I find myself tongue-tied with shaking hands that can’t seem to plunk the correct keys to describe my emotions and tears running down my cheeks. There is a huge hole in my heart, which will never, ever go away. I have told my friends, I thought it was going to be like my maternal grandparents passing because I was really close to them but I cannot describe this ache in my heart. My theological mind set is like: she is in with our Lord, but my heart is getting in the way. Grieving death is far more than a theological topic it is the deepest human experience.
My strong faith provides the comfort of knowing that my Mama is no longer suffering, but the reality drags my attention and the sudden availability of time across a jagged and unforgiving ocean of heartbreak. Waves of grief smash upon the shorelines and break like china cups as my day-to-day life has moments of inspiration that remind me of what has been lost. I know time will heal the pain. When I hear the song “Turn, Turn, Turn by the Byrds, I think of my Mama’s favorite scripture from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15. This isn’t my first loss, but it is differently the hardest.
"Still, spiritually, she is holding me through her prayers. Even typing these words, I know she is with me."
In case you wanted to know where my head has been lately, or if you’ve been asking if I am "OK". I would typically respond with “Yes I am ok...but maybe not”. I have been crying at a simple word MOM or CANCER. At first, you don’t cry because of the shock, you then cry a lot, and at very random times. Like when you hear “Amazing Grace,” and remembering how much you and your Mom loved singing it in the car and that time that you sang so loud and botched the song because you both cannot sing. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen a hallmark movie with a mom in it and started sobbing hysterically. Maybe the character’s Mom was cheering them on, or maybe she was just giving them a hug. Literally, anything that shows another mom in it will have you crying. Being sick reminds you how much you wanted your Mom when you get sick. When I got sick or felt down, I always said: “I want my mommy”. I said those words a week and a half ago and realized I wanted my mommy because I am sad. Still, I am sad because of her passing and her not being here. Then, realizing she is around me and although it may not be her holding me physically like she did when I was hurt. Still, spiritually, she is holding me through her prayers. Even typing these words, I know she is with me.
When you lose your Mom, you suddenly realize that you need your family’s support and strength more than ever. I know my sister, brother, and I have relied on my mother’s brother. There’s something special about sharing this together and being able to reminisce. You realize that you start telling your family member about your day in the same way you used to tell your Mom, in hopes that maybe things will feel normal. It doesn’t, but it does help a little to know that someone still has your back, and you’re not going into every situation alone.
Just trust me, nothing will have the same brightness after you lose your Mom or Father. That cute purse at the store you were eyeing suddenly just seem like a stupid idea. That time you told your friend, you will go out but you don’t because you really just don’t want to be around someone. You’ll get back in the routine someday, but it won’t be today. Prayer is the only tool that will put you back together.
The day when my Mom passed away, I had to push my grief back because I really didn’t want to think about her being gone. Funeral arrangements having to be discussed, and not having the funeral right away and having that feeling that you’re in denial because her passing hasn’t really hit home. I heard that grief is the last act of love. You want to make sure love is all around and keep being around people but your heart doesn’t want to be around others. Isolation will not help you push through your grief; Either will ignoring it. I tried to push through and disregard my grief. But, pain would slip out of me and I would find myself hysterically crying, especially on the Sunday after she passed. During the offertory at Mass hearing Amazing Grace. I didn’t want people to think I was falling apart. So instead of crying hysterically in front of people, I simply went to the back and cried. So, I held a lot of my sadness inside. It’s the way I am. I am a caretaker; I think of others before me. You just learn to accept the grief; it will be part of your daily life. I know that in the Lord’s time, and through his grace, the grief and pain will be healed.
"I am now even more dependent on my relationship with Christ."
The only constant in our lives is the love of God. I trust in him, and he will hold me tightly in his arms as my Mama always had. Since my family lives far from me, but I have my church family around me. My church family has been consistently supportive, and they have blessed my biological family and I with cards, donations, prayer, and the most significant gift of all LOVE. Through this time, my faith has been challenged. God’s grace has triumphed. I am now even more dependant on my relationship with Christ. And, I trust in him to walk me through the grieving process. His sacrifice will enable me to see my mother again.
I will always cherish the last words she said to me on Sunday before she passed. Four simple words, “I love you, Amy”. The battle with cancer did not take away the love of a mother for her children; love won. I cannot help but draw a comparison to the passion of our Lord Jesus’ including his death. This death, and painful grief that followed allowed the love of God for his children to win the day. I love you, Mama!!!