One year ago today I was in Egypt. I taught four story-time classes at RCG in the morning. I spent the afternoon eating and learning with graduate students at ETSC. I had dinner with them and had a Bible Study and prayer group as well. We prayed for many things that night--for Medhat's church, who'd just gotten permission for a new building and was slated to begin demolition on the old one the next day; for international students and their transitions in Egypt; for Tukei's spiritual life; for Esther's visa; for my mom.
I got home around 10pm. there were messages from my dad asking me to call home...but I didn't have a calling card so I couldn't. Instead I went online and saw my brother on AOL Instant Messenger. He always has an away message up but he's also almost always there. So I messaged him saying I was home and asking him to tell the parents to go ahead and call now.
The away message said, in essence, "My mom died this morning. She always tried hard to do the best for her family, even when she was suffering. Pray that she is safe and happy in heaven."
That's how I found out.
For the record, that sucks.
I ran out of the room shrieking "I have to call home right now!!!", ran up the stairs to Carole's flat on the 3rd floor. She answered the door and I said, shaking, "she's gone." That's just about when Jason caught up with me. I had hugs. We prayed. And Carole let me into the Louisville flat (for the important visitors!) to use the phone--our only international line out. My dad and I talked for a few minutes. What I remember him saying is "she was really proud of you." there was crying on both ends of our very-long-distance line. then we discussed logistics--when I would come, what needed to be done, etc. We hung up and I made a packing list, got online with the people in Louisville, got plane tickets, and made arrangements for someone to cover my classes. I was remarkably calm until everything was ready and I really needed to go to sleep, which is when I said to Jason, "no happy day will ever be completely happy again--my ordination, my wedding, even my birthday because the last time I ever talked to my mom was on my birthday." (ten days ago)
Well, it's true that it's not totally happy, but it's not totally sad either. One year later I can still safely say it REALLY SUCKS to not have your mom. It's crappy to do all these things--get a job, buy a house, get ordained, have a birthday, etc--without my mom. but I've gotten through it somehow. I know it's because she taught me well how to be a good woman. I also know it's because I'm surrounded by people who love me, though none of them love me like my mom, and I can practice being what she wanted me to be.
Dear mom: I miss you. Nothing is ever going to make that better. But thanks for doing a good job with me. Thanks for giving me the tools to make it, and to be what you dreamed--even if it's not quite what you thought it would look like ten years ago! Thanks for being a good mom. Also, I used your KitchenAid to make mashed potatoes today and it was totally awesome. Thanks for that too. I love you. and, frankly, I hope this next year is easier than the last one.