I don't have a lot of memories of my mom. She died when I was ten, so most of my memories are from age five until I started 4th grade, which was when she went into the hospital for the last time.
But, I do have this memory.
One Sunday, we were sitting in the balcony. I wasn't paying attention. I usually engrossed myself in the puzzle of the Children's Bulletin or tried really hard not to suck my thumb. My mom told me church was the one place I wasn't allowed to suck my thumb.
And when my mother told you to do something, you did it.
I remember I was sitting next to her, which was either a treat or a punishment. I always wanted her attention; being the littlest sister didn't always guarantee me the attention of my parents like other families. I just liked to sit next to them because I really hated sitting by strangers. Next to one of my parents, I was safe. Being safe is a big deal when you're not allowed to suck your thumb.
So there we sat, two L-decker ladies during Sunday morning worship. Mommy had the bulletin out and was circling scripture and hymns. She circled one hymn, #525, and put a big star next to it. I don't remember if I asked her what she was doing, but I remember that number. 525. Printed in black on the cream-colored paper. Circled in pencil. Her mental note, her mark to remember.
When she died a few months later, I became even more withdrawn. People in my family thought I understood that she was dying, but I didn't. I thought she was just really sick, going to come home eventually. She always got sick and got better. She was my mom, after all. Moms don't die.
But my mom died. I was very angry and very sad and very alone. My house was bustling with family members, but I didn't want to talk to them. I didn't want to talk to anyone unless it was to tell me that this was a bad dream, and she was coming home any minute. Then my pastor came over to make the funeral plans, and I just sat there, trying not to suck my thumb in front of him.
He asked me and my sisters if there was anything we especially wanted at her funeral. In that moment, I knew.
"Yes," I told him, surprisingly confident. "She would've wanted us to sing 'Here I Am, Lord'. Number 525."
"A beautiful song," Dr. Ray responded. "Let me write it down. We can look it up in the hymnal. I think it might be 472 or 475."
"No," I asserted. "I know it's 525. She would've wanted that song."
"Ok. We'll sing it."
And we did. And every time I hear it, I think about her, and how she must be doing wonderful things for God now that she is with Him. The thought of that makes me so happy.
You know, lately, I've been feeling so separated from God. I feel like there is a void where there once was an unbreakable bond. But reading Neeley's blog reminded me I have to be here for God, to hear Him calling in the night. And go where He leads me, and hold His people in my heart. It's not because He left me, but because I forgot to listen.
Thanks for writing that blog, my co-directing BFF! I hope I didn't overwhelm you with this sob story of mine, I just wanted to write about it somehow.