Thank God for perms

I know it’s strange for me to write about this, but a part of me is afraid I will forget. How could I forget though… How could I ever forget… I preface this with the same warning as last time. This is going to be about things some of you may not want to know. Turn away now. You wont hurt my feelings. This isn’t for anyone really, but me.

And again, I plead for your grace. To you this may be weird, but I am a girl who lost her mother. Every part of this journey means something to me. More than you will ever know. Do not be angry if you think I am sharing private things.

A week after she passed, I came near to my mother again. But I could not see her.

There’s a little cemetery a few miles away from my parents house in the country. I’ve driven past it a million times and enjoyed the beautiful green drive. It’s like a time warp. I’ve been to several services there and sang Amazing grace and shed a few tears because I could see the grief around me and rejoiced because the deceased was in heaven. But there’s nothing that could have prepared me for this.

Nothing in my life has made me feel the way it did.

This grief is strange. Most of the time I am really okay . . . I smile and truly enjoy my life and my husband and my kids. I am not paralyzed with sadness. But sometimes, it hits me like a slap in the face. Catching me off guard.

As soon as we rounded the corner, I could see it. My heart fell a hundred feet in my chest. All the air left my lungs. I felt like I’d been punched. And I wept. Nick parked in the little gravel parking lot and we just sat there. It was white with copper fastenings. I was later told it was pink inside. Not because she liked pink, but because she liked when my Dad wore pink. She said it went well against his Indian skin. I think it was minutes before my heart beat again. The rational part of me said, “Get a grip”. The rest of me wanted to tear through the gate and up the grassy hill and to throw myself on top of it.

Finally, I got out of the car. It was cloudy and a strong breeze was blowing. Nick took my arm and walked me up the hill. Again, every part of my will keeping me in each of those steps and not doing something rash. Of knowing that this day would stay with me forever.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Occasionally, I looked at my sister. She would smile. Such a sweet girl. She knows she is loved.

I stood close to my grandma. I hugged her every few seconds, clinging to her because I felt like I was clinging to my own mom. She had given birth to her, and I felt like she was as close as I would ever get to hugging my own mother. It’s strange how, in the absence of a mother, my heart instantly starting searching for one. Like a void had been opened up that my soul knew wasn’t right. God meant for us to have mothers.

And right now I take a break to thank God for my children. Hugging them has always been special. But now I hold them a second longer. I close my eyes and cherish the moment. The gift.

The pastor said a few words. My other grandma reminded us all that we can see Mom in the faces of everyone. It’s true. We all look like her. My uncle, my sisters, my grandma, and myself, although, my cousin could be her twin. And then we took up pink carnations, her favorite flower, and walked up to it.

I stood beside my grandparents and uncle. They had already put their flowers atop it, but I didn’t want to let mine go. I didn’t want to walk away. I did not want this awful moment to end. But I also knew I had to get a grip. This moment was real, but it was not reality. I could not stay here forever.

So I closed my eyes. I didn’t hear anyone or anything. The wind picked up and I felt the Lord reminding me that He was real. That my mother was with Him. That He was a moment I could stay in forever. I took a deep breath of that cold air and opened my eyes again. My husband was standing on the walkway in front of me.

My grandma said, “I guess we should leave now?”

I answered, “Only when you’re ready.”

She half-smiled and I continued with ,”You’ll never be ready, will you?”

My uncle said that it was time and urged us away. I obeyed, but I felt like my insides were being pulled apart. With Nick at my side, I forced myself down the hill. But I sat in the car and stared. How could something be so beautiful and so devastating at once? How could I want to stay with something so badly?

I understand why people go insane now.  Missing someone makes you want anything that gets you close to them. Thank God for God. Thank God for Nick. The Lord is the rock in the middle of an ocean. Nick is the lighthouse on top of it. That’s cheesy, but it seems to fit how I feel.

And so I drove away from that little cemetery, but I tell you this, there is apart of me still there. Like a gravitational pull, always drawing my mind to that place. To that moment. It is never far from my thoughts. Someday I’ll go back there with pink carnations. But I’ll have to remember that my mom IS NOT THERE. My mother is not there in that place. She is free. She is free. She is free. And she is alive.

Very much alive.

I got a perm when I was four, and every year after that until I was twelve. I didn’t know how to take care of it and so my mom would spray and brush my hair every day and I hated it. I would whine and complain and she would get angry and the brushing would get tougher and tougher. I thought it was a great day when I finally had normal hair and was able to brush it myself.

But tonight, I would love to feel my mother brush my hair.

I have a treasure in heaven.

This is when I met her face to face.

6 thoughts on “Thank God for perms

  1. An Auburn wind blows
    Across this arid desert landscape
    Bringing forth
    A momentary change in the scenery.
    A smile flits across my face
    As I stand, arms outstretched
    Grasping at air…

    My condolences on your loss.

  2. Katie your description is so very beautiful. Thank you for writing about “it” and how your feel.

  3. Dearest Katie,
    This was so beautiful…I could feel your pain and sorrow. It is amazing how the very air we breathe can be sucked right out of us in a moment. How numb we can become to everything around us in our grief. The good news is these are the stories you will be sharing with your daughters as you brush their hair. As you remember the torture combings,permed hair and maybe,just maybe even have a little smile will come across your face. I share my grandmothers life with Cara all the time. I tell her about the beautiful person she was and her yummy cinnamon rolls. For Cara’s birthday party she wanted to invite Grandma Alice to her party…She with Jesus too. God let me paint a picture of my Grandma that makes my daughter love her too. Keep sharing these beautiful pictures with us. They paint a picture of our friend we will get to see again and for those who didn’t know her will know her because of you. I Love you~

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