The words will not come. The lump at the back of my throat will not let them out.
I know what I need to say. God gave me the perfect words earlier this morning, but now they are stuck in quicksand.
My memories in this church are running rampant, however. They envelop me in my sadness. Right where the Pastor is standing, I was saved, baptized, discipled and married.
“Do you, Brian, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife—to have and to hold—in sickness and in health, till death do you part?”
“I do,” he said tenderly gazing into my watery eyes.
It had been a glorious day sixteen years ago. As I stood there in front of my friends, family and church members, I looked out at Mom, who was as emotional as she could be with her childlike state of mind. She sat hunched over, trying to sit straight to show how proud she was of her daughter, the bride.
But now is not such an occasion. That was only a memory now.
Just like this next one…
“Miss Lora,” little four-year-old Jenny had asked as she pulled on my belt, “can I go potty?”
“Again?” I asked her. “Jenny, did you not practice your music?”
Her wide, sea-blue eyes had looked straight into mine, “Yes, Miss Lora, I did.” Her arms flailed out in frustration. “It’s jus’ that we keep singin’ bout washin’ our sins away, an’ all dat water makes me gotta go.”
It had been quite the effort to hold back the laughter while she crossed her legs and did a little ‘potty jig.’ “Of course you can go, sweet Jenny. And I’ll will start a new song when you get back, ok?”
Oh, how I had loved teaching that little choir. At sixteen, the pastor’s wife had given me the chance to lead them. I felt pretty special to direct from the preacher’s podium.
That seems like eons ago. Now I’m forced by circumstances to sit on this hard wooden pew with little Jenny all grown up just rows behind me. Even in this crowd, I feel like I’m behind a thick gray concrete wall, and Pastor Steve’s words bounce and echo from it.
“For we know that all things work together for good (for good) (good), for those who are called (called) according to His purpose.”
“Aaaaaa-men!” Mr. Thomas bellowed out in his deep voice from the back pew.
Yes, and it is for His purposes that in a moment I will walk up to that same spot from which I wed all those years ago. After all, I had walked up those steps, picked up the microphone and belted out many a song and scripture dozens of times before.
Sweet, white-haired Mr. Thomas would touch my shoulder with his trembling hand. “I sure do love it when you sing, Precious. It brings heaven to my heart.”
How I long to bring heaven to these grieving people right now, but my own heart is wringing with sorrow.
“Lora,” Pastor Steve’s voice ruptured into my hollow ear, “you said you would like to say a few words in memory of your mother (mother) (mother)?”
I can’t believe her casket lies in the same place that I had stood so many times before, looking out at her proud, beaming face.
I must speak. I’m walking to the pulpit and speaking the words that I must say, or I’ll regret it forevermore.
The words I must say are ready at the tip of my tongue.
“My greatest memory of Mom is her sitting at the kitchen table reading her Bible with a mug of Folgers in her reach. She would recite long passages from memory to anyone who would listen. She taught me to love the Word. She had every reason to give up after her car wreck. Instead she chose to be dependent upon the Lord in her neediness. She may have been disabled on this earth, but now she dances before the Lord with brand new legs. I look forward to the day I can dance with her…”
After a long silence, the Pastor brought me back to the present by asking, “Did you wish to speak? It’s ok if you can’t…”
My legs have melted into the pew. I open my mouth to speak, but the words I prepared will not come. I put my head down and wave my hand in decline toward the pulpit.
If only I could speak.
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