When Daddy died, I thought, “What about our family gathering around Mamie’s table?” The picture had been so real; I couldn’t believe it wouldn’t happen. Pleasant memories with extended family had created expectations I was not to realize.
Mamie’s dining table held a Southern feast whenever we gathered. Fried chicken, homemade biscuits with melted butter and sweet tea. We drove an hour after church to my maternal grandmother’s house for Sunday dinner. Even though I didn’t linger around the table, the magic of family laughing and enjoying one another affected me.
Mamie’s table came to us after her death and Mama carried on the tradition of connecting around the table, often with aunts, uncles and cousins. After Mama died, Daddy remarried. He cleaned out the house and gave away our furniture. A friend’s family kindly agreed to store Mamie’s table in their attic for me.
When I married, the magic of connecting around Mamie’s table continued, but was incomplete. Living on the other side of the country from my family, I imagined a day when my sister and I would gather with our own families and Daddy’s laughter would delight us.
When Daddy died, I couldn’t believe my dream wouldn’t happen. Even at the time, I was surprised at the turn of my thoughts.
Because death is too big to grasp, grief attaches to smaller things. A mother grieving for her son found a book that was half read among his belongings. It haunted her that her son would never know how the book ended. A human life should not end before a book is finished. I remember the same feeling when the pansies Mama planted continued to bloom after she was gone. I didn’t know whether to love or hate them.
The clash between our expectations and reality jars our emotions. Since we were made for eternity, death never feels right. If the grieving mother found out her son had finished the book, she would still grieve. If Mama had died after the pansies, something else would have reminded me of my loss. Of course I wish Daddy could have lived until all our children were born and shared a meal as one big family, but he didn’t. We are never ready to say goodbye to someone we love.
Time brings perspective, and loss reminds us to cherish our loved ones now. After someone is gone, even the most mundane memory gains significance. What if I had eyes to appreciate those moments while in them? Perhaps that is what Moses meant when he prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 TNIV).
God cares about your dreams and losses. Restoration is coming, and so is a family gathering beyond imagination (Revelation 21). “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9) Until then, may we savor the time we have here with those we love.
Ladies, join us in our fall Bible Study, Your Invitation to Rest.
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