Tomorrow, 22nd March, would be Mum’s 80th birthday. For her 70th my friend Cate and I bought my wedding dress. For her 60th I was in my final year of my undergraduate degree. Days I never got to mark with her because she had died December 1994. Time does heal but time also brings a new ache. Becoming a mum myself has given new shape to my memories of her, of our relationship, of what might have been. While there is sadness that she has not been around to meet Mark or the boys, it is in having a daughter of my own that the ache has deepened. In so many ways I see my younger self in our determined independent daughter and in mothering her I am given new insights to mum and my own relationship with her. I long to say sorry, to ask forgiveness, to forgive, to hopefully laugh as we recall moments from my own childhood that are being played out again with me as the mother this time. Over the past few days I have had little reminders of my mum’s sacrifices she made for us, her volunteering; as a children’s play assistant at the local hospital, and with meals on wheels to name two that stand out in my mind. The meals we had every day, clean clothes, a home. I long to be gathering with all the family tomorrow to sing her happy birthday and to celebrate her. For her to be celebrated not because of what she did, but because she was her. As with me she was not perfect, but she was and is my mum and tomorrow there will be something missing in my day.
With mother’s day this coming Sunday as well, there is a rawness to my edges this week, a frailty to my desire to have it altogether, to not be swayed by things so easily. Today has been a day when the tears have spilt easily and awkwardly at different times. And as happens so often it is never just one thing that tears are spilt in an ache that is runs 22 years deep. But however deep it is, it is the channel into which other past journeys find their way and spill out. God led me to the passage today in John’s gospel where Mary Magdalen encounters the resurrected Jesus in the garden. I was preparing it for an Easter reflection I am doing in a couple of weeks with the ladies fellowship and realising that mum might have been part of such a group. I thought I was on safe ground getting on with preparing this for others. For some reason I forgot that it was God’s word and that is not how He works. This was a passage He was and is going to first use in my life. Twice Mary is asked why she is weeping. It is not as an accusation but as a concern, a recognition of where she is at. It is Jesus who asks her the second time and he follows it with the question ‘who are you looking for?’ And through my own tears I sensed God asking me that question, in my tears and rawness ‘who are you, Roz, looking for?’ I am looking for someone who is not brought to tears as easily as I am, who does not feel vulnerable and fear like I do. I am looking for the good parts of my life to have been woven into a different past. I am looking for a way to make the truths stand out louder than the lies. I am looking to not doubt and wobble. And in looking for a different me I miss God and His ways. I miss Him calling my by my name. I miss that in my weakness He is made strong. I miss Him.
So tomorrow I will invite the children to join me in the garden, a place that mum loved and where many of happy memories of being with her are rooted, along with sitting Sunday by Sunday in church holding hands as we joined with those around us to say the Lord’s prayer. To be in God’s creation, to get my hands dirty, to root myself where He has placed us, to tell them stories of Granny, talk with and about God to them. To remember Mum and know that God is present and while sometimes we can miss Him He never loses sight of us.