Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 65 today. And she has been gone 21 years now, which just seems impossible. I remember the year after she passed away, but it’s like looking through thick fog when I think back to that year. I had twin 5 month old baby boys, we had just moved back to Northfield and were living in my parent’s basement, Andrew was commuting an hour to work, my dad was drinking heavily, and life was being turned upside down. My mom, one of my best friends and one of the strongest people on the planet had succumbed to cancer.
Because we were living with my parents and my dad was less than helpful, I found myself in the role of care giver to my mom AND to two babies. I was a new mom, trying to figure it all out and doubting my abilities greatly. On top of that I had no idea how to care for a seriously sick person. I tried to be strong, hold it all together, but really everything was falling apart.
I remember one instance where I was in the basement trying to get my babies down for a nap. I suddenly heard above me my mom throwing up. I went upstairs to try to take care of her and found her lying on the couch in misery. She looked awful and I just burst into tears. I sat next to her on the floor, talking to her through my sobs, trying to be the comforter and ending up being comforted by her. She was always like that.
After she passed away, I read her journals. She had written about that day. She shared how I had come to her crying and how she tried to comfort me. She wrote how I was trying to be supermom and she wanted to encourage me but just felt so sick she didn’t have the energy to.
I needed her so much in those days. And she wasn’t able to be there for me. I wasn’t really able to be there for her either. We were just kind of struggling along beside each other, both worried about so much and just trying to hang on.
That year following her death was horrible, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for me. I was so angry at God I couldn’t talk to Him for a long time. I was depressed and grieving and who ever really knows how to grieve!
I made a choice in that year to not stay in that yuck. I found a counselor and by God’s grace she had lost her mom in a similar way. She helped me so much. She let me cry and talk and rage and cry some more. And somehow in the midst of that I started to talk to God again. And guess what, He was still as ever present as He’d ever been and His love was abundant.
I can’t say I’ll ever completely get over her death. I still say it’s unfair and she was too young. I still say she’d love all these grandkids and be the best Oma. But it’s okay too. I can also say I trust God in the midst of the unknowns.
Are you stuck? Are you living in yuck from your past? Are you unable to get past it and use it as excuses for why you are the way you are now?
I want you to hear this truth. You don’t have to stay there!
Find a counselor! Talk to God and spend time with Him. Put in the effort to work through the hard and the yuck, even if it seems too painful to bear. It’s so worth it on the other side. I don’t live in that yuck anymore. I don’t respond from that hurt anymore. I can live my life to the fullest and enjoy it all because I worked through that really really tough stuff.
You can too! Trust me. It’s not easy but it is possible.
I remember my mom taking such good care of herself. She spent time with God. And I don’t mean reading a devotional that gives you one verse of scripture and then paragraphs of someone else’s thoughts. I mean really spend time with Him – read His Word, ponder it and pray over it.
She spent time gardening and reading because she loved those things and they brought her joy. Don’t tell yourself you don’t have time because you have too many kids or other things to do. It’s so important to do the things you love too and show your family that that’s an important part of life.
She also walked an hour or more a day. Move your body! Exercise! There’s nothing that combats depression better than moving and getting into nature where God is unfiltered! She ate healthy too, although she was known to drive down the street to the nearest grocery store and buy a bag of Doritoes, lay on the couch, read, and eat the entire bag! My sister and I always knew that bag was off limits! It’s all about balance, right?!
My mom died just before her 44th birthday. Those things she did to take care of herself didn’t give her a long life. There’s no guarantee for that. But the life she did live was full, vibrant, and full of joy. And when it came time to meet Jesus, she was ready.
It might seem overwhelming to get unstuck but just start with one thing. Maybe you need to commit to finding a counselor first and let the other things come later. Pray about it and let God lead you. Just do it – get unstuck!