The Willow by the Water

Hours after my mother died, I found myself touching her things as I went around the house. Her jewelry box and its contents, her clothes folded on the dryer. So many things that she had touched, that had touched her. These were all I had left of her now. These things, and memories.


As the days passed, an almost panic-filled idea oppressed me: That Mom’s death had somehow erased her life and existence. Had she been real? Had all of our moments together been real? Was it possible that she could be so easily torn from my life if she had really been that closely woven into it?


Maybe my subconscious mind thought that touching her things could somehow prove she had truly existed. I slipped my feet into her shoes and slippers—perhaps there were still a few molecules of warmth left from the last time she wore them. I swathed my lips with the pink gloss I found in her purse—perhaps the wand still held some of her sweetness. Maybe touching her things was my attempt, my new way, to be close to her.


These feelings must be part of the erratic symptoms of grief. The suddenness of a whole life’s becoming only a memory was and is too much for my being to absorb.


This week, on a warm, spring evening 50 days after her death, I planted a weeping pussy willow tree that a friend gave me in memory of her. My friend wrote, “I feel like this is your mom’s legacy: For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring; they will spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses (Isaiah 44:3-4).”


That Scripture reminds me of something very important: I am proof of my mother’s existence because I am her legacy. I was fashioned in her womb. Her blood is mixed with mine. That’s about as close as I can get to her now; if I look closely enough at the mirror, I can see glimmers of her there.


When I sit at my writing desk and look out the window, I will see that willow growing in the grass. I will remember that I am part of her legacy—my three sisters and I, and now my four nephews and niece. I am part of her legacy just as I am part of my late grandparents’ legacy. Their lives created seeds, and we grew like fruit under their branches. Now, their blossoms have fallen like those on my weeping willow.


But I’m still here. No one can take away the reality that my mother lived, that she lives still in another realm. No one can take away the blessing of her life that watered and nourished mine. Even though I’m weeping, I will let nothing stop me from allowing this life that came from hers to spring forth and blossom by the watercourses. After all, those waters are the life of the Holy Spirit in me. I will not deny Him the fruit of my mother’s life and faith that has yet to come into full maturity.



One Response to “ “The Willow by the Water”

  1. danii says:

    Yes and amen, dear friend. I know your mom would be so proud of you becoming a published poet!

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