Yesterday I woke up around 6 am on my birthday. I walked into the kitchen and made some coffee, then sat down at the computer. Pam and I had spent the previous two days here at Myrtle Beach having a marvelous time doing nothing, and I was looking forward to spending another fun day celebrating my birthday.
Then something strange happened. I saw my cell phone on the coffee table across the room. It occurred to me that Mom hadn’t called me yet, or maybe she had called and the phone was on silent and I didn’t hear it. Every year since I graduated from college and moved out, Mom has called me in the wee hours of the morning of my birthday. For a brief moment, I almost got up to check the phone to see if she had left a message. Then it dawned on me that Mom wouldn’t be calling today. This would be my first birthday without my Mom’s wake-up call in 34 years, and the first of many to come.
There will be many moments like this in the future I suppose, times when I realize that she is no longer here. Most days I don’t think about it. Life rolls on and obscures even the greatest of losses. Life doesn’t slow its pace to allow us to grieve in leisure. Bills still must be paid, appointments kept. But there will be days when her loss feels heavy and fresh, like on the mornings when the phone doesn’t ring.
I wonder how often Dad has moments like I had yesterday morning? How often does he expect a call? How often does he expect her to walk through the back door with a bag of groceries from Martin’s?
As Christians, we don’t grieve for the dead. My Mother is in a place of happiness and delight. We grieve for the living, for those left behind trying to fill the gaping hole left by the absence of one so beloved. With the passage of time, the pain of that absence will diminish, or so I’m told.