Today is the 2nd anniversary of my mom's death. The loss remains profound--a gaping chasm that cannot be filled. I don't cry everyday anymore. Progress. Memories are returning of mom before she sick. For the longest time, I just couldn't see her healthy, happy, confident, loving life self that she was growing up. Worried about this, I asked Russ if he had the same problem. Only memories remained of her healthy self for Russ. He assured me they would return for me as well. That's something Mom would have said, "Don't worry. You'll find them again. You'll be ok in the meantime."
I miss her. I miss her when Grace asks about her Grandma. "Tell me again. Where is my Grandma? Oh, that's right. I remember, she's with Jesus now. I miss her. I love her and she loves me. She sang songs to me and read books to me." Or she might ask me if I have a mommy. Sweeter still is when she asks, "Remember when Nana got me these jammies? They are so cute. Remember when she laughed and laughed when I was jumping in that jumper thing?" Of course, she remembers the anedotes and stories I've told her about her & Nana. No, I won't forget and Grace will remember her Grandma in the stories I tell; in the songs we sing.
Below is a post from last year but fitting for today... a tribute to mom.
In loving memory...
Nellie R. O'Neal
Jesus Loves Me
Print by Kathryn Andrews Finch
This has been a big week for us - turning TWO is a BIG deal! Gracie never ceases to amaze me but this week I shed some tears. For weeks, Gracie's belted out "Deep & Wide" - there's a fountain flowing deep & wide; a song she learned in CLC KidsTown about the never ending fountain of God's love toward His children. This week as I was putting Gracie's shoes on & she started singing another familiar tune~
Jesus loves me this I know
for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.
Though she missed a few of the words, it was by far the sweetest melody. This child's song is powerful when you really think about those words. The declaration that Jesus, God almighty, creator of heaven and earth, loves ME. And I KNOW it! We, as His children, belong to Him; treasured and cherished of our Heavenly Father. Though we are weak, He is indeed strong; strong enough for whatever makes me afraid. To quote an old song, "His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He'll carry us when we can't carry on. Raised in His power the weak become strong. His strenth is perfect. His strength is perfect."
Jesus loves me - it's been a favorite for a long time, holding special meaning for a number of reasons. One of mom's favorite stories to tell from when Tracy & I were kids was the one about Halloween when we were 2 & 3 years old. She took us trick or treating and our "trick" was singing Jesus Loves Me. One lady was so moved, she recorded the song to send to her son in Vietnam. I wonder if two giggly girls singing this Sunday School favorite brought a smile and perhaps reassurance that he was being held by the everlasting love of Jesus. I believe it did.
Jesus Loves Me comforts the soul. My mom was sick, sick, sick in the hospital - I had no idea it would be the last day she lived. While visiting her, Grace persisted in getting a book off mom's nightstand. Thinking it was a Bible, I told her "not for Grace" a dozen times. Finally, I decided we could look at the "book" together. Turned out it was a hymnal. Then I remembered my sister telling me that she & my cousing swiped one from the hospital chapel so they could sing for mom. Mom was a singer when she was younger - lovely, lovely voice. I treasure the memory of her singing to me, with me when I was little and then, mom singing to and with Grace. The words were sometimes jumbled, but charming still.
Mom affirmed she would enjoy it if we sang a bit. I went through the songbook, finding old favorites I hadn't sang in years...Standing on the Promises, What a Friend We Have In Jesus, Amazing Grace and finally, Jesus Loves Me - with all the verses. Mom enjoyed the others, moving her lips to sing as she was able, but when I began to sing Jesus Loves Me, she began to breathe deeply, relax & "rest" in the song. I remember all day mom looked very deeply at Grace & me, like she was drinking us in. I think mom knew that it was the end. This song gave her peace to rest eternally in the arms & love of Jesus.
So sing on Gracie! Sing it 'til that message is embedded in your little soul, because He does indeed love you! Sing it for others so they will know they are loved as well.
PS - the print above by Kathryn Andrews Finch hangs in Gracie's room as a reminder of this precious love. AND special thanks to Christian Life Center KidsTown Children's Program http://clctoday.org/children.htm for singing with my little Grace. You'll never know how far your efforts go!