We spent much of the drive home in silence. What could be said? We had done what we had gone to do and now, the let down. The past week had been filled with the distraction of plans and programs and music preparation and ignoring all the day-to-day things, which would otherwise seem so grand and so important. Somehow, it was okay that it all fell to the wayside. Time stopped.
“How do you grieve?” my husband’s brother asked me.
“This is it,” I said curtly pointing to my stoic face.
I suppose it was a bit of a lie, but in that moment, I wasn’t thinking about grief. I was thinking about what I needed to do, to say and to be for my husband who had just lost his mother. Just lost his mother…that is not a sufficient way of putting it. It seems so trivial.
“Oh, I lost her. She could be downstairs or at the supermarket but really, I don’t know where she is.” As it was stated a couple of times, she isn’t lost – we know exactly where she is. She is with God. But while there is comfort in that, it does not describe what her presence with the Lord implies for my husband’s heart – for the void that is now and forever will be until they meet again, beyond the grave in the light of grace. You see, his mother was what I am not. He was her baby and he needed her. He needed her reassuring words, her nurturing warmth and her sympathy – the things I lack. Leaning into her was like laying your head on a soft down-filled pillow whereas leaning into me is like banging your head against a brick wall.
I never, in a million years, thought she would leave us so soon.
She had so much to give…then again, perhaps, she had given all she could. Ben’s parents have been with us every step of the way – from the day Ben tried to break up with me when we were dating to our wedding, from the birth of our children to hosting their annual 3-day cousin camp. I could tell story after story of the graciousness of his mother. I could tell you how, when Ella was born, they came with us to our appointment with the geneticist and sat with us after as I cried silent tears. I could tell you how she would insist on accompanying me once or twice a week as I made the hour and a half drive to Calgary for Ella’s appointments. I could tell you how his parents came to visit us in Cambridge because they are, without a doubt, Ben’s biggest fans or I could tell you how she stayed with us for a month before Audrey was born because I was on modified bed-rest and how she held my other two children for the days that followed as they vomited through the night and into the morning.
The woman was an all-star who leaves a great legacy. She was known for her spunk, her sense of humour and her devotion to God. Her memorial was a celebration of all of those things filled with memories of love and laughter and endless photographs of her in funny hats making funny faces. She brought joy into people’s lives until the very end and I know that the approximately 450 people who attended the funeral are just a fraction of the hearts she touched.
There is so much to say, but I am tired and my heart is heavy. I feel as though there is no way to do this post justice, to do her memory justice. My heart is heavy for the Grammy Audrey will never know and my heart is heavy for the hole that now gapes in my husband’s heart. She loved him so, so, so much. When he was a baby, she was so worried that he would die – they lived in Brazil and she didn’t have enough milk. I can only imagine how her heart must have ached as she listened to his cries of hunger and watched his little body waste away. She had a special place in her heart for her little Benje, as I am sure she did for each of her children but her love is irreplaceable and I know that. And my heart aches for my father-in-law – I can not even begin to imagine saying good-bye to your best friend, the mother of your children and your partner in ministry and in life.
And yet, he hopes and clings to the promises in God’s word, which is what we must do as well. So tonight, as I sign off, I’ll share just a glimpse of the amazing perspective this man has, “An empty house, without Shelley, is tough for me. I have a hole in my heart. But God keeps giving me these promises from His Word. This morning I read in Shelley’s journal, “Because the Lord is at my right hand I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8. As soon as I feel I’m sinking, God has something or someone there to remind me of how He is caring for me at this time. How wonderful to see Him at my right hand. Why should I be shaken?”
The legacy continues…