Reaching Out


Today marks the one month anniversary of my mother’s death.  It has been overwhelming living in the wake of her loss.  And as much as I have wanted to stay in bed forever, I knew that I would have to continue on with life…eventually.  My first foray back into the land of the living was taking Ethan to see his mom.  My mood was quiet and reflective. I had no intention of sharing my loss with Eliza.  It wasn’t because I was uncomfortable around her.  Our encounters have been surprisingly amicable.  And not to say that there are not awkward moments, because there are, considering that all of our interactions previous to her incarceration have been over the phone or in a courtroom.

 I had several reasons why I didn’t want to share this news with her.  One, I didn’t want to burden her with my problems during her parenting time with her son, two, I have been trying to keep things on a less personal level with her (I was tired of having my kind gestures  rebuffed), and three, it was still difficult for me to speak about.

So when she asked me how work was going I was caught off guard. Generally she never asked anything directly about me. Sometimes I would offer bits and pieces about me in an effort to humanize myself. I wanted her to see me as someone other than her ex-husband’s (relatively) new wife whom she hated.  She would respond politely by asking a few cursory questions, cautious not to convey too much interest.

 I carefully replied that I had been swamped at work because I had been out for eight days.  I coughed for added effect.  I figured she would assume that I had been too ill for work.  However, this time she pressed on.  Were you sick? she wondered.  I took a breath and replied, No, Eliza, my mother died.  She instantly reached over and hugged me.  She also provided me with a few encouraging words before we continued our game of Scrabble. Periodically she would reach over and rub my leg or pat my back.

I had not expected any further mention of my loss.  After all she had already offered her condolences during the visit.  But a week later I received a letter in the mail. The following day, a card.  The letter read:

Hello friend, how are you? I pray you’re doing better. As I know these times must be very hard on you. I want to extend my deepest sympathy to you. When things get rough–as they sometimes do–we may think about giving up. However, I want to encourage you to be encouraged and know that trouble don’t last always. The sun will shine again. I say this from experience because after my mother passed on and began her journey with the Lord I felt like the sun would never shine again–how could it? But after allowing Jesus to be my comforter–the sun did shine again. Morocco, my friend what doesn’t kill us will only make us stronger. Your blessing are on the way. Know that you are in my prayers with each passing day. Be blessed lady!
Isaiah 41:10 “I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Jesus loves you–You’re not alone! God will be your strength!

I was touched and a tad suspicious.  I didn’t know what to think.  My old insecurities surfaced.  Was she writing to taunt me because I was finally suffering?  Was she sincere?  Did she want something in return? Of course I let Rhonda read the letter and she felt that it was indeed heartfelt.  I could only hope.  Tired of being paranoid, I decided to reply to her candidly.  Rebuking my wariness of her motives, I concluded that she was reaching out.  She did not have to write in attempt to provide my grieving heart with comfort.  So I wrote:

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor heights nor depth, nor any other created things shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:37-39 5 March 2008 

Eliza,Hello, I hope all is well with you.  I am fair.  I want to thank you for your kindness. This is indeed a vulnerable time for my family and I.  It’s funny that you use the analogy of the sun and death, because that’s how I have always felt. At the hour of my mother’s demise, it truly felt like the sun had set and would never shine again. No pun intended, but I know that someday the Son will rise again!A couple of days ago I had this desire to call my mother. I had a general question that I probably could have asked one of my aunts, but I just wanted to talk to my mother and no one else would do. It is in these moments that I am overwhelmed with sorrow realizing that she is no longer with us.Having been down this path before, I know you completely understand.  It is easy to stay faithful when things are going smoothly, but ever so difficult when you are facing troubles.  I know that my faith is being tested.  I am admittedly weak and I pray that I am able to remain steadfast.  I am working diligently to do so. I am attempting to be thankful for this opportunity to draw closer to God.  I need him right now because there is no one here on earth that can ease my heart the way he has and can.  I am still in mourning, though I am determined not to wallow in a puddle of self pity. I am reaching out to others because it makes me feel better.  It also puts the purpose of life into perspective for me.  I really think God meant for us to provide encouragement to one another.  So I thank you friend for reaching out and providing me with much needed encouragement. Be blessed.

When my mother died I remember confiding in the hospital chaplain that I would not be able to survive this tragedy.  She smiled before saying You will.  God is going to put all kinds of people in your path to get you through this.  Could Eliza be one of those people???

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