Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Pros and Cons (08/14/14)
- TITLE: Where Grief Lives
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom
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This year, it feels as intense as it did in 1993 when Dad announced that several aneurysms had ruptured in Mom’s brain. She had almost no chance of surviving; still, she hung on for almost a week. But for me, it wasn’t long enough.
As I sob, I look up. Momma, why did you have to die? It’s not fair. You should have tried harder.
Suddenly, I’m certain I feel Jesus’ presence. What’s the benefit of hanging onto your grief?
I try to push his voice from my head, but he is unrelenting. What purpose does it serve you?
Even though I’m sweating, a chill ripples down my spine. With as much faith as I can muster, I beg God, Rewind time and save her.
His voice pesters me. What about Lydia? If I rewind time, she won’t be here.
At that precise second, she emerges from the bathroom, her hair dripping from her shower. She wraps her damp arms around me. “I love you, Mom, and look what a beautiful person you made.”
Even though I’ve spent her entire life wishing Mom were here to help me raise my “wild child,” I know she is an amazing person. People laugh and bug their eyes out when I mention she is my difficult one. Her namesake’s blood courses through her soul, and somehow Mom lives on.
“Go dry off. I’m fine,” I lied.
Again, Jesus speaks, You haven’t answered. What do you gain from clinging to the past?
I jut out my defiant chin, simultaneously realizing that Lydia comes by her stubborn streak honestly. Each year, Mom fades more and more. Why do you make me remember the grief but allow me to forget the good stuff?
Like a wise counselor, Jesus says, Why do you think?
Shoulders slumping, I try to hide.
God chuckles. I can still see you. What does your grief provide?
I choke on the tears, and I can’t breathe as scenes from the past flash through my mind. They all have one thing in common–I’m contemplating suicide because I feel like a burden to my family. I’m afraid of forgetting.
Jesus’ voice is but a whisper. Forgetting what?
Squeezing my eyes shut, I dig my fingernails into my face. If I forget how much I miss her, I might give into the voices that tell me to kill myself. If you loved me, you’d stop Satan from tormenting me.
I can almost hear Jesus sigh. You’ve never asked.
I throw my hands in the air. What if I forget my grief and my kids hurt like I do?
I feel something...or someone...tilting my chin up, and my eyes rest on the framed collage, full of beautiful smiles from my family’s faces. Next, I notice Emily’s wedding picture. Behind Grandma’s special girl, who is now happily married, stands my son. Quinten’s a living legacy of his grandmother, more alike than he knows. She struggled in school, believing the teachers who’d called her stupid. My son wrestled with similar anxieties. I often worry that I’d failed him. If Mom had been here...
Again, Jesus nudges me. What did Quinten want this week?
The blood rushes to my cheeks as I remember. Needing some help with his sermon for his internship at Duke University, he called me. We talked about his grandma and how whenever God needed her, she gladly volunteered.
Earlier, I’d urged him to include Mom’s favorite hymn, “Here I am, Lord.” He’d insisted that the music had been prepared already. His next words stung. “It’s my sermon, Mom, not yours.”
Sunday morning, he called, laughing despite his frustration. “Why are you always right? Guess what song follows my sermon?”
Lydia bounds out of her room. “Who are you talking to?”
Returning to the present, I smile. “Jesus.”
Rolling her eyes like only a twenty-one-year-old daughter can, she responds, “Did he give you any advice?”
“He promised me if I follow, he will lead me.”
Lydia raises her right eyebrow just like Mom used to do. In this moment, I know I will never forget.
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