I lost my mom 27 years ago today, and today I’m reminded of a little card that Mom had tucked away in her jewelry box. The card contained just the first half of the Serenity Prayer, the part that you’ll often see on bookmarks and wall plaques. I even have a Christmas tree ornament with that little quote on it that came from New York to Florida with me over twenty years ago, one of the treasures I look forward to seeing each year when I put up my Christmas tree.
The first few lines are the most widely quoted part, but it’s only half of the poem and it’s and not even the best half because while it defines what we’re after, it doesn’t tell us HOW to get it.
I’m sharing the whole poem here in my mom’s honor. We lost her when she was just 49, and while she accomplished great things in her life I often wonder about and grieve for those lost years, the years we might have had with her, if only…
If only Mom had known how to get what she was after. She knew and feared God, but she didn’t ever experience peace that I can remember, not really.
The Serenity Prayer has gotten me, and many others, through some very dark days because it’s a road map to trusting God and knowing that it’s OK not to be OK sometimes. I pray that my kids will learn that from me by my living it, rather than by finding it in my jewelry box one day when I’ve gone to be with the Lord. But I am absolutely confident that I have more joy in my life now, despite having lost both my parents and struggling as a single mom, than I have ever had in my life.
God is good.
I’m so thankful for my sister, she’s an amazing mom, wife, sister and friend, and we were blessed to be able to spend a week in Maine with our families this summer. There is absolutely nothing in the world that can compare to watching our kids play together. And I know that our relationship now would make my mom so happy.
I’ve loved my little sister for as long as I can remember, but there were years where we got on each other’s nerves. And my prayer for my girls, in addition to the one above, is that they can get through those years with as little drama, scorn and hurt feelings as possible.
It’s only now, years later, that many of the pieces are falling into place in the puzzle of my life. It’s funny how my sister and I each have a cat that resembles our favorite cat we had growing up…
…and we are here for each other, even when I am here and she is there.
I’ve received amazing love and support from my family, but I live in Florida and my closest family members are in Upstate New York and Connecticut, so far away! But I feel blessed that even though we may not see each other that often, we don’t allow the miles to come between us. When we get together it’s like old times. We talk on the phone, send cards, pray for each other, and I’m hoping and praying we will be able to see each other more often.
And God is so good, I’m blessed to have made awesome friends in my neighborhood, at school and at work, in organizations like my college fraternity and the MOMS club, and I am blessed to have an amazing and very supportive church family.
I regularly attend events by myself, but I never FEEL alone, because I never am alone.
My prayer for each of you is that you would have a loving, supportive network of friends and family to lift you up when you’re down, and to help you celebrate the milestones and achievements in your life, and to help you draw nearer to God.
God bless you!
P.S. One final note… I write and talk about grief a lot because grief and loss have dominated much of my life, and I wanted to share one of the most helpful things I’ve found on the subject of grief. This post has been widely shared and frequently attributed to GSnow in various places online. It’s a very poignant and kind post in response to the heartfelt plea:
“My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”
ALRIGHT, HERE GOES. I’M OLD. WHAT THAT MEANS IS THAT I’VE SURVIVED (SO FAR) AND A LOT OF PEOPLE I’VE KNOWN AND LOVED DID NOT.
I’VE LOST FRIENDS, BEST FRIENDS, ACQUAINTANCES, CO-WORKERS, GRANDPARENTS, MOM, RELATIVES, TEACHERS, MENTORS, STUDENTS, NEIGHBORS, AND A HOST OF OTHER FOLKS. I HAVE NO CHILDREN, AND I CAN’T IMAGINE THE PAIN IT MUST BE TO LOSE A CHILD. BUT HERE’S MY TWO CENTS.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes.
My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function.
You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.
~ by GSnow