One time I typed the writing prompt at the top of my post and was all set to hit go on the stopwatch but I realized I am still so emotionally spent that what I really want to do is roll over and bury myself in blankets, close my eyes, and sleep.
But I will prop my eyes open and skip over the series of one-time events I can think of that may be interesting to write about and return to yesterday and the day before.
To that one time a seemingly quiet and unassuming woman was taken from us before we were ready and we were overwhelmed.
We were overwhelmed by the grief. The first-time unimaginable grief for her husband and children and sisters and brother and grandchildren who have never experienced such a loss. The still unimaginable grief for those of us–primarily in-laws who even though we do know that this unimaginable grief you don’t think you can possibly survive is in fact something you will live through, also know that losing a mother is a loss like no other.
We are overwhelmed–and even humbled–by the show of support by family and friends. By the food pouring in at everyone’s homes. By the phone calls and visits and texts and Facebook messages. By the friend who bursts through your door and runs up your stairs to give you a real hug even as you are both still on the phone with each other as you are in the midst of breaking to her the bad news. She jumped in her car and drove straight over so she could give you a real hug.
Overwhelmed by the lines of people spilling down the hall, out the double-doored church entrance, down the stairs and into the church parking lot when you arrived at the viewing Tuesday night. A crowd that was undiminished even half an hour past the scheduled end of the viewing, but finally dissipated an hour past.
The crowd that resumed the next day before the funeral. The crowd–as your brother-in-law puts it–inclusive of almost all walks of life. Family, friends, teachers, classmates–some we’d seen recently, some we hadn’t seen for ages. The Native Americans who stayed in with the family during the family prayer and also came to the cemetery and the family dinner because they were indeed welcomed and loved as family by this woman and who told my father-in-law, “you asked us to be here and we are here.”
Overwhelmed by the same bursting-through-the-door-while-you’re-still-on-the-phone friend who drives nearly two hours while still suffering from a concussion to be to the funeral and to stay to the cemetery and take lots of photos because she knows you will be busy talking to family and not be able to take all the photos you want–or even know the ones you will wish you had taken later, because she has lost both her parents too in recent years and she knows.
Overwhelmed by the cousins from California who always show up and are there for you. You thank them for coming and let them know how much it means to you that they would be there and when they say “We wouldn’t miss it,” you know they mean it, because they always have and always will be there with you and for you.
Overwhelmed when you see your stake president who works closely with your husband and who has also lost his mother and who took time off of work and also drove that nearly two hours to be there for your husband. (Nearly two more hours back home again afterwards, of course.)
Overwhelmed again when you see your brother and his wife who still mourn the loss of your mother and who also took time off work and drove the same distance to be there for you and your husband and your kids even though they knew with so many people you would hardly get a chance to visit with them. They just needed you to know they were there.
Overwhelmed again when you learn your Relief Society president and your neighbor down the street–both who have lost their mothers–who had no idea where they were going and who had to stop and ask for directions, twice–also took time from their busy days to show up for your family.
Overwhelmed again to learn that not one but two of your husband’s coworkers (one is now retired) made the long drive to and back to show up for him and to let him know they’ve arranged for his class for extended days so he can have more time with his family.
Overwhelmed and again humbled by the reach of this wonderful matriarch whose mortal resume may not have been long by the standards of the world, but whose faith and service surpassed what any of us likely imagined and whose mark on the world was overwhelmingly good and beautiful and worthy of such an immense tribute.
Overwhelmed by the knowledge you can work harder and love more and serve better and by the desire to do so as you are once again reminded in a powerful and beautiful way that “…by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”
[Day 94 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]