Ten years later, I remember laughing when she said, “If Gore wins the recount, don’t wake me up.”
Ten years later, I remember praying for her just before her surgery. I remember that her pain was worse that day than it had been in her short eleven month battle with cancer. I remember the surgical team wheeling her out of the room. I remember her looking at us and saying what would be her final words:
“Y’all be good.”
Ten years later, I remember a nurse asking us to come into the consultation room. I remember a doctor in his scrubs, holding his khakis over his arm, explaining that there were complications…that they had done everything they could. I remember my sister’s voice, trembling, shaking:
“Are you telling me my mother is dead?”
Ten years later, I still remember that detached, out-of-body experience, as if I was watching my family’s grief…my grief…from the corner of the room. I remember the exact prayer that I prayed as I put my hand on my dad’s shoulder and held him tight:
“Father, nothing has happened today that didn’t first filter through your holy hand…”
Ten years later, I still cry sometimes. I still laugh sometimes. I still think about her every single day. I still catch myself picking up the phone to tell her about something that she’d want to know about. Something she’d want to pray about. Something she’d want to laugh about.
Ten years later, I find it hard to believe that we’ve had two houses she’s never seen. A seminary campus she never visited. A church she’s never heard of. A grandchild she’s never met.
Ten years later, I remember her infectious sense of humor. I remember her love for my dad. I remember her pride in her kids. I remember her joy in her grandchildren.
Ten years later, I remember her passionate devotion to Jesus. I remember her commitment to the gospel even as she suffered. I remember her paraphrase of Philippians 1:21, something she repeated often:
“If I live, I win. If I die, I win.”
Ten years later, I remember burying her the day before Thanksgiving. I remember preaching her funeral, trying to narrow down 27 years worth of memories in 15 minutes. I remember looking at the faces of nearly 600 friends and family, sharing the gospel with the people that had come to honor her. People she’d prayed for. Souls she’d begged God for. Witnessing opportunities she’d labored for.
Ten years later, I remember standing in a freezing graveyard under a bright blue sky. I remember her body being put into the crypt. I remember the numbness. The sorrow. And the certain hope of seeing her again.
Ten years later, and it’s November 20, 2010. She would have been 70 years and six months old today. She and my dad would have celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary this past spring. She would be planning a special dinner for my brother’s 50th birthday tomorrow. She would be keeping tabs on nine grandchildren in two different states, and be gleefully anticipating Christmas, undoubtedly her favorite time of the year.
Ten years later, and I still miss her. I still thank God for her. I still talk to my kids about her. I still love her.
Ten years later, and the legacy of a godly woman extends beyond her grave.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:28-30)