A few years after my father-in-law passed away I saw his phone number on my husbands iPhone. I made a comment about him taking it off and he mumbled some words I didn’t catch. It’s 15 months after my mom’s passing and her name and address still hold a place in my contact list. How could I have been so insensitive? How could I not have realized there is a bittersweet comfort in seeing their name appear as we scroll through the family list?
Long before mama died, I picked up this little book called Things You Can Save…when you lose someone close to your heart. It’s not much on words but it’s full of colorful illustrations which are probably why I was drawn to it. It simplistic in its words as it suggests saving things we can “keep in a pocket or put in a locket”. But even simple words bring sweet memories to mind and curl the edges of my mouth into the faintest of smiles.
There are reminders of our parents scattered about our home. Some things were given to us before their passing and others were found when sorting out their belongings in the task of cleaning out their home.
Daddy died long before the others. Even though he was in poor health his death was unexpected and life seemed rushed as we prepared to travel to Texas for his funeral. It was awkward and hard in many ways. We didn’t go to his home or sort through family pictures. We went where we were directed and, at times, felt like visitors in this place that was never our home. What I’ve kept from him came from mama, who hadn’t been married to him for over 20 years. She had their yearbook from seminary and a handful of photos. She also gave me his copy of My Utmost for His Highest that had been given to him in 1964.
The effects of divorce continue to rob us even in death.
It’s mama’s second birthday absent from us on earth. I believe she has done nothing but celebrate since her promotion to glory and reunion with the saints gone on before her. Celebrating wasn’t one of mama’s strengths. She didn’t dance or have much of an ear for music but I like to imagine her twirling round and round with her full-throated laugh that we all loved.
All of our parents are in heaven now. Some of left us with boxes of slides, old photos, and super 8 home videos. Others have left us with few tangible things and difficult memories. All have left us wanting to cling to something to remind us of their presence and their mark on our lives.
What we’ve been left that we hold most dear is our hope in Jesus. Our parents persevered through multiple moves, cancer, divorce, the death of a child, of hardships we’ve never known. Through it, their faith stood firm. It’s what they wanted most to give us. It’s what we continue to keep.