the long goodbye.

We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it. –Madeleine L’Engle

I will spend the rest of my very life chasing after this light, hoping to wrestle it and tame it as a beacon in my own soul as my mother did.

It’s no mystery to me that she met the Lord in a season when I look around and her favorite flowers, black-eyed-susans, are blooming everywhere. And they all wind and twist and turn their face to see the sun. Just as her face looks now fully, and unveiled face to face with her creator. My mother is the kind of woman that unapologetically pushes you to pursue the best version of your own self. She set her unwavering sights on Jesus long ago and never strayed from them. A constant in an ever-changing world, she was committed to faith and steadfast against an unsteady, withering, and wilting world.

She loved big.

She gave me many things, life being the first, despite a tumultuous pregnancy. And in line with that her sparkling blue eyes, deep as the Pacific sea. And whispy blonde curls. I’m sure I was cursed with her same teeth, even cracking the very same one when I was in the eighth grade, we used to giggle about that. I got her knobby fingers and her awkwardly long feet. Her love of the sea, and clumsy love of skis I without a doubt inherited. But she gave me much more than genetics. At a young age, I was convinced I was adopted. It wasn’t long until I realized I got her stubborness and her fire too, much of which pushed her past all the landmarks that doctors never thought she would pass in her brave battle these 21 months. It wasn’t until I was about 17 that we stopped wrestling and started to take our clashing as a warrant to understand one another on a deeper level. We never looked back after that. She was the freest, and that is how I maintained to live my own life. Free.

From since I can remember sleeping in my big girl bed, we would lie there and stare at the glow in the dark stars painted on my ceiling. I would lay awake, too afraid of the all-encompassing dark, and here we would lay and I would tell her every detail of my day and thought of my heart and she would pray for me. I adored her to my very core, she was my queen, my role model, my other half. And to say I worshiped the ground she walked on would be an understatement. From the time I could mother my own babydolls I wanted to imitate her every move, so whisk in hand I climbed on top of the kitchen countertop.

As I grew older, and what I thought was wiser, I shifted into my own ways. And she prayed for me. She prayed that if I might ever be wrought with trouble, and I was plenty of times, that I would always be found out. And I was. Not due to her own sleuthing, but the truth always came out. Either I was driving too fast on Vaughn’s Gap or there were the boys I shouldn’t have hungout with and school work I neglected. And she was always there to welcome me as her screwed up baby with grace upon grace.

I would call her everyday on my 2 mile walk home from school at Auburn. We would laugh about how the same boys were still making the same passes at tall, blonde sorority girls some three decades later and would they ever stop? Chemistry she never understood because she walked into her registrar office at Ole Miss the first day of freshman year and demanded a major that did not include anything chemistry related, while I took chemistry just for the heck of it. She was sympathetic, nonetheless. She would send me her strawberry pie recipe and I would bake it for my roommates, soupier than hers. Packages came without fail as valentines slipped in and out of my life. Some times I would cry, always we would laugh, and more than once I told her all my deepest secrets. There was nothing I could tell her that would cause her to shame or disgrace me. She loved.

I transferred home to Nashville at Belmont, unknowingly that she would be diagnosed 3 months after my arrival. I remember the day before she got sick. I had a big test in my hardest class, and I was supposed to be at the coffee shop studying. She requested that I come to a picnic in the park, and there we shared a cupcake together. That is my most happiest, untainted memory. Less than 24 hours everything after that would change. Forever. My reality as I knew it was gone—but still she walked it with me, as long as she could. She still fought her sickness, and managed to bring me pumpkin muffins and walk my puppy and meet me for coffee and answer the phone when I called her at 1am, a puddle of tears from my first broken heart.

And in her own pain and turmoil—there was only one thing she wanted: Jesus.

And it is that which she gave me the most of—Jesus. Everyone from her small hometown says I’m the spitting of her, a high compliment I bashfully receive. But it is her internal beauty, her fire, trust, commitment and dedication to Jesus that I hope and pray to take with me. And that is the legacy she leaves behind.

She lived her life in such a way that tangibly showed me without a doubt the reality of a man who I would always carry with me. And though I would never live up to the standards required and expected of me, and I would always fall short of this great calling, there was a Father who’s own Son shed his very blood for me in the most unimaginable suffering and death. It was her loving arms that welcomed me in time and time again that showed me his grace, her hospitality that showed me his provision, her faith that showed me he is worthy of our trust, her happiness not bound by conditions or health that showed me his joy, her steadfast spirit that showed me his peace, her willingness to endure the impossible that showed me his mercy in the end.

And now, even in this time I have known the truth of grieving, but not without hope. I love Jesus more today than I did a week ago, because the reality of the blood his son shed making her complete and whole and the beauty of the hope he has brought me with this dawning light. That is the legacy she leaves me with. So until I see her again, I cling to the hope of a man who has given me so very much, and am thankful for her for introducing me to him.

per my dad’s request: momma’s video link
“String of Pearls” by Bill Manolee

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3 thoughts on “the long goodbye.

  1. Precious beautiful Anna Bliss. What a wonderful joy you shared with that magnificent lady who gave you life. I love her beautiful soul…that is what shone through and made her beautiful countenance so special. I am grateful for the fact that she has led me to restore my faith to a level it had fallen from for a while. Your words are incredible honey. God is glorified. Your precious mother is portrayed so well that it seems that I could see her doing all the things you have written here. What a wonderful precious gift she was to you, and to all of us blessed to know her. May God hold you firmly in his grip.

  2. This is beautiful. The line that pierced me was ….And in her own pain and turmoil—there was only one thing she wanted: Jesus.

    And it is that which she gave me the most of—Jesus

    There is NO greater legacy. May that be said of me too! Praying for you right now!

  3. Anna – I remember your sweet, precious, gracious mama from CPC. She sang in the choir next to my dad 🙂 I lost my mom to cancer at 20 when I was a Junior in college and my dad at 25 and reading your sweet words reminded me so much of my own journey with my parents. I know we have never met but I feel called to pray you through this heartbreak. What a sweet testimony of God’s grace and it encouraged my heart so as I am now parenting my own little ones – wanting desperately to point them to Jesus.

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