The midwife stood up holding the wailing infant. “You have a daughter,” she announced. The young woman on the bed fell back with an exhausted, sigh.
The girl’s mother stood in the corner of the room, away from her daughter, arms crossed, watching. Her face was stern, set, as though lifting even the corners of her thin lips would send cracks rippling across it. No flicker of care or understanding touched her.
“The child will be called Memory,” she declared dryly without any consultation with her daughter. Crossing the room briskly, skirts swishing against tightly laced boots, heels tapping on rough wood floors, she stopped by the bed to look down on her daughter. “She will be called Memory so that you will remember your sin. When you see her you will say, like King David, ‘For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.’”
Emma looked up from the bed, red-rimmed eyes agonized, “Mama, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
“It is not for me to forgive. You have brought shame on all of us. You will not name the father and he will not name himself so we are left with it all. Because you are only sixteen and I must remain charitable, you and the child may stay here.” With that she left the room.
The midwife brought the baby to Emma. “Here you are, Miss. She’s a little beauty. Looks like you.” She helped settle the baby in Emma’s arms. “Don’t you worry none about her,” the midwife nodded her head toward the door from which her mother had just left. “She’ll come around when she sees this little one.”
Emma shook her head. “No, she won’t.” She looked down at the baby in her arms and felt an immediate grip of love on her heart. She hadn’t expected that. Was she going to love this child? She believed what her mother had said, her sin would ever be before her. And it would likely serve her well to be reminded of it. Perhaps she would not be tempted again to yield so easily. But her sin was no fault of this child.
“Hello Memory,” she softly greeted her new daughter. “I will try and love you well. I will try to not blame you for my error,” she promised the infant at her breast.
Twelve years had passed and she had not found it difficult to keep her promise. Memory was such a delight. The unconditional love of the little girl had somehow cushioned the sting of her mother’s continued rejection and disapproval, for she had been right when she had said that her mother would never get over her dislike of the child. Her mother had only ever seen shame when she looked at Memory. She had withheld her forgiveness from both of them to this, her dying day.
Emma and Memory stood together, holding hands as the coffin was lowered into the ground. No tears ran down their faces as they dropped a rose onto it and yet Emma’s heart was heavy. Heavy, because she had nothing to mourn in the passing of her mother, no happy memories of a loving mother to carry forward. Her mother was simply gone.
“Mother,” Memory’s voice broke the somber stillness. “Why didn’t Grandmother like me? I tried to always be good around her, but she still didn’t like me. Do you know why?”
Emma pulled Memory over to a nearby bench and they sat down together. Emma began with a deep breath, “Memory, there are some things in life worth remembering and some things not. Lots of people get those mixed around. Your Grandmother was one of those people. She always chose to remember the bad things. She couldn’t forget something wrong I had done. She could never forgive me and so she could never really love either of us.”
Memory thought a moment, “So Grandmother didn’t like me because I reminded her about what you had done by having me?”
Emma nodded, tears flowing now, “I’m so sorry, Memory.”
“It’s OK. I didn’t care about what Grandmother thought anyway.” Memory put her arms around her mother.
Emma hugged her close. “Memory, when your Grandmother looked at you she saw my sin. But I want you to know that whenever I look at you, not only do I see my beautiful, wonderful daughter, I see God’s forgiveness too. You are my precious memory that God loves me enough to forget.
“For I will be merciful to their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12 NASB
Psalm 51:3 KJV
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