I have only visited my mother’s grave site a few times. It lies on a hillside, near sheltering trees, overlooking a river valley, facing the rising sun, three states away from where I now live. But those visits have reassured my soul and spoken to me in some mysterious way. I know she isn’t really there, not her spirit, not the essence of Mother. However, her body lies under the ground there in that grassy, flower-strewn slope. And when the Son of Righteousness appears in that eastern sky, she will rise there to meet him. Just being in that blessed place where that meeting will happen, and seeing her name engraved on that stone, touching and tracing her name with my fingers helps me feel a connection to her.
The loss of a mother, and the lasting connection to her, provides a theme that runs through literature and poetry. Reading these works can help us carry the burden, embrace the mystery, and release the emotions of the loss of Mother.
I just finished reading one such novel, The Messenger of Magnolia Street by Jordan River. In this book, the main character, named Nehemiah, returns to his hometown and visits his mother’s grave. There, surrounded by trees and flowers and gravestones, he stands before his mother’s burial place.
Nehemiah doesn’t know what else to say except, ‘Hi, Momma’ and ‘I miss you.’ He thinks about all the times he has needed her advice, all the times he’s thought he’d just reach out and pick up the phone and call her, but then, how silly was that? How many times he’d wanted to call her from Washington and tell her something to make her proud. … If there had ever been a time that he needed her sage words, he felt that time was now….
I can relate to this fictional character’s feelings, as I’m sure other contributors to this blog can. Treva, for instance, lost her mom to a violent, tragic event when she was a teenager. Ellen’s mother died just before Ellen’s birth. My mother died of cancer when I was in my twenties.
We hold and internalize their love for us and the wisdom they left us. And we cling to the hope that has been given to us. We are alive and we must live and carry out our purposes here. That’s what our mothers would want us to do.
Someday it will be our turn to rest — and rise!