End of an Era?
By Gail Casteen
A friend called today to see how I am doing. She was somewhat taken aback that I was fine and quite peaceful. You see, my Mom died Sunday morning.
When I was little, I was afraid to face this day. I knew that she was older, so naturally she would die first. It was not long before reality set in. People of all ages die every day. Nevertheless, that nagging question was in the back of my mind, "What would life be without Mom?"
Mind you, when I was 17, I left home for college. I returned two summers to work in a local National Park. During my college years, I was close enough to occasionally drive the four hours home for a weekend visit. After graduation, I worked in a large city in another state, but I still made time to go see her. I felt compelled to go because she had been a widow since I was 15. I was the older of two children remaining at home, and felt a certain responsibility to see that everything was OK with Mom.
During the five years I lived in Europe, I was Mom's best pen pal. I told her about my work, about the customs, about the sights and the warm and gracious people who were befriending me. She had the opportunity to visit me twice while I was there. My friends loved this diminutive, smiling lady, and they particularly loved her fried chicken dinners. She had a way of making the most rugged people smile, relax and chat (or listen… Mom was a talker).
Anyway, back to the call from my friend. She told me that grief has to come. Yet every day since Mom's death, I have awakened to a vision of her with a smile from ear to ear. She is far younger than the 89 years she lived on this earth. Instead of her white, close-cropped hair, she sports a brown, shoulder-length pageboy. More importantly, she is genuinely, thoroughly, deeply happy. Honestly, I cannot remember ever seeing Mom quite that peaceful and happy. It’s obvious that she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is loved.
How can I grieve with that picture in front of me day in and day out? Yet, my friend warned me that I am one to handle crisis well and fall apart later. I certainly will not take her to task on that, because she has walked with me through some very difficult and disheartening times. She said, "This is the end of an era. Your mother is gone. You are no longer a daughter." She wanted me to know that when the grieving starts, she will be there for me. For that I am grateful.
After the call, I sat back in my chair and thought, "No longer a daughter. Now, that's a different thought." I don't suppose I ever would have gone there. As an ache started to well up in my heart, I suddenly remembered part of a scripture someone shared with me weeks ago, and the tears coursed down my face, not from grief. They were tears of overwhelming joy.
As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:16b, 18.
The end of an era? Perhaps. No longer a daughter? Not so. I am forever His daughter.
Copyright 2002 by Gail Casteen. Used by permission.
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