Around 3pm, I got the call from Dad. I was expecting his call at some point, but I thought it would have arrived a bit earlier and with different news. Earlier in the day, he had called to enlist my help in tracking down Mom. He was unable to contact her after several attempts which in itself was not much of a concern (she often ran multiple errands while trying to conduct business, coordinate volunteer activities, settle family disputes between us children, and check up on friends — Mom was the perpetual multi-tasker whose focus was rarely on her own needs), but even he seemed concerned. I was hoping Dad’s call would ease any fears and inform me that Mom was just caught up helping or serving someone. Instead, his words were very different. “Mom is no longer with us.” I have never heard words as powerful as those – words that had the ability to stop my world dead in its tracks. “Mom is not longer with us.” Disbelief, shock, and horror instantly filled my heart that Monday afternoon of July 2, 2012. Nothing else Dad said registered; those six words continued to replay in my mind as an immensely deep sorrow overtook me. I do not know how I left work or how I got to my car. I have no recollection of driving home. I remember so little of what transpired over the course of the next hours as those six words continued to overwhelm my mind. As the hours melted to days and the days became weeks, those words continued to have a profound impact on every aspect of my being. It is hard to believe it has been one year.
The media is bloated with stories of people remembering their loved ones, especially at the one year anniversary. But to me, so many of these remembrances come off as mindless veneers with people going through blind motions. I mean no ill-feelings especially towards those that are suffering through a loss; however, is my observation that often times, we do a great job remembering an event (good or bad) on a single day but then move on with our lives for the next 364 sunrises. No doubt this is so easy to do in our sensory-overloaded, always-connected, fast-paced world.
How does my desire to remember Mom transform into sharing typed thoughts with the blogging world? With using as little words as possible. During a frustrating point in my professional career, my wife Marnie suggested a project to provide perspective. The suggestion was to take a picture each day of something of which I had gratitude. I made it nearly a month through, then Mom passed, and the project faded. A few months ago, I wanted to restart the project and see it to completion, but it never gained traction. Coincidently, a few months ago my dear friend Adam shared with me his love for Paul’s letters to the Church at Thessalonica. On his suggestion, I started reading those two letters. And then I reread. And reread. One passage kept with me, stuck in my heart:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
It hit me hard after rereading the passage for what seemed to be the millionth time: Mom embodied these verses more than anyone else I’ve known. And then the project idea clicked: to celebrate Mom, I want to share a picture each day to show something for which I have gratitude. Mom could find gratitude in all circumstances, no matter how good or bad.
I am excited to start on this journey — even if no one joins me, I will still express my gratitude. I want to honor Mom as I try to continue her legacy of gratitude. I want my children to know Mom (Grandma) through the images I take as I attempt to capture a virtue which she personified. Most of all, I want to honor God as I continue to grow through the events which so radically changed our lives one year ago.
Blessings (and thanks),