As walked in to do our holiday shopping, there she stood with her tiny, frail, hunched over body meticulously and slowly picking up jewelry boxes. I felt a twinge in my heart. Ugh I didn’t need this right now. I was already missing my momma. My daughter leaned over and whispered, “Mom, is that _____’s grandma?” I nodded yes as we passed her by. She didn’t see us because her head was down in what seemed to be the natural frozen position. She could not have be over 100 lbs and wondered if she was even strong enough to look up or move on her own with those tiny little legs.
As we moved past her my daughter said what I was feeling, “Mom she hurts my heart.” I nodded yes. I hate heart hurts. Especially when they are mine. Everything in me wanted to run away from this woman that reminded me so much of my mother.
We shopped and mingled about 10 minutes while this elderly women didn’t move an inch from where she was standing. My heart was in full ache by now and all I wanted to do was leave, but I didn’t. I chose at that moment to press in regardless of the pain and make sure she was doing ok.
I walked over and tapped her on the shoulder. She slowly turn and look up at me with those deep set winkled eyes. I said, “Hi, do you remember me?” She sweetly smiled, “Yes. You’re Diane’s daughter. Dorothy right?” I nodded yes. I began to listen to her about how she was doing. How her children were. How many great grandchildren she had now and so much more. This went on for about 15 minutes and it was obvious to me that she was happy to be seen and heard. Happy that someone took the time to stop, say hello, and actively listen to all that she had to say.
Then she asked me, “How’s your momma doing?”
WOW! I wasn’t expecting that question and it hit me like a gut punch in an already tender heart. I took a deep breathe to hold back the tears and said, “She’s actually doing pretty good. She passed away about a year ago, so I’m pretty sure she’s having a blast in heaven about now.” This sweet old lady was kind, said she didn’t know, and that she was sorry. As I listened to her wrapping her life up in short sentences, I couldn’t help but hope that her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren cherish her and celebrate her 85 years in the right here and now and not wait until after she’s gone.
I attempted to end the conversation a few time but it was obvious she was craving for it to continue, so I stayed listening until she was done. After she said all she had to say we finished our shopping, but it was to late, my heart was already deeply pierced. This season without mom has been tough. My heart has been tender in missing her because she loved Christmas so much and this encounter just did me in. I came home, retreated to my bed, and numbed out with Netflix at my side. I wasn’t ready to feel all that right now.
Sleep sucked. The next morning sucked. This was hard. REAL HARD. I know myself well enough to know that I don’t like to feel sadness or this type of deep pain EVER. I don’t do heartstring pulling, make you cry movies, much less this in real life! I just want to fix it and make it better, but there was no fixing this, simply feeling it. My go to’s are to numb with Netflix, chips and dip, or dive deep into work to not think or feel about the hard heart things. However, I also know it’s vital in my healing and grieving to do just that. SO I chose to feel today.
I chose to sit in the pain and not try to fix it or distract from it.
The encounter with this sweet old lady reminded me of taking my mother Christmas shopping last year just so she could choose gifts for those she loved. She loved Christmas and buying gifts for others.
It reminded me to press past the uncomfortable in me so I can see and celebrate someone else. I remember my mother feeling unwanted, unloved, and invisible because her disabilities. She knew her state made others feel uncomfortable, but instead of them pressing past that, they shielded away from her because of their pain. They would numb the inner pain with busyness or avoidance (me included). I remember how sad that made her, yet there was nothing she could do about it.
This encounter reinforced to me that even if it hurts my heart, that love and showing love is what matters in this life. Saying I see you. I hear you. I will stop and be in the “here and now” for you. I will choose to celebrate life and the people who are in my life. You see, this sweet lady of 85 has 25 great grandchildren and you can tell she is very proud of that! While my mother who passed at 71 will never see my childrens’ children and that makes my heart so sad for them. My grandchildren will never know her over indulgent love and protective spirit.
This stuff is hard. So, I’m leaving space for the hard knowing that hard doesn’t mean overwhelming and overwhelming doesn’t mean overtaken. I can have hard day and have hard things happen but they don’t have to overwhelm me. If they do overwhelm me, that’s ok, they don’t have to overtake me or my day. If they do overtake my day, that’s ok, I have tomorrow.