Marking Four Years

On a cold Sunday two weeks ago, my sisters and I stood under an overcast sky near our mother’s grave, each with a different bouquet of flowers to lay beside it. We were there to mark the day when, four years ago, she slept her last sleep and awoke in heaven.



Earlier that morning, when the sun was still shining and melting sparkling rivulets into the streets, I had the unexpected privilege of attending my childhood church with my mother’s parents. Filled with old family memories, I sat on the wooden pew next to my grandmother. The tone of her silvery voice singing Holy, holy, holy floated through the air like an aromatic balm: she sounded like my mom, singing just a pitch higher. The moment was a great gift, even as I thought of Mom worshipping with us in heaven until I could no longer sing myself. I savored the familiarity of my grandparents’ presence and the gentle comfort it brought.


My sisters and I headed to one of their houses for hot tea and treats later that afternoon. Despite the circumstance that had brought us together, we spent the day laughing and joking with the sisterly humor that doesn’t really make sense to anyone else. Rather than dreading the day, we had anticipated our sisters’ outing.


I realized that a key transition had taken place in our grief. I felt as if we were living in the epilogue after a sad movie, learning what had happened to the characters who had gone through a painful event. Certainly the events of the past year had something to do with it—the freshness of my father’s remodeled house, which he now happily shares with his new wife; my younger sister’s marriage just over a year ago; my own marriage a few months ago. After another season of adjusting to new family dynamics, a rest has settled over us. God did what His Word proclaims in Psalm 68:6—He set the lonely in families.


As I stood in the snow looking at my mother’s grave, I recognized that time had not, and could not, take away her reality. A desire for another new normal filled my heart—that on this day for years to come, I would celebrate my mother’s life in special ways rather than mark it as the day of her death.



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