Erma Carey-Bay has written a series of articles for our women readers highlighting her life experiences and the lessons she learned from her mother. She hopes to enlighten and inspire you just as she was enlightened and inspired by her own mother, who is now deceased. This article is part 3 of 3 in this series. Need to catch up? Read part one or part two.
About two weeks before Mama died, though she had no signs of illness, I had this sinking feeling that I might lose her. My father had died 10 months before and since his death, my mother seemed to be in deep thought—maybe she was reflecting on her own life. I asked her if she was dealing with her own mortality and she answered, “I’ve been dealing with that since I was a little girl.”
A few days before my mother died, I rushed to her house, barely in control of myself and when she opened the door, I almost fell into her lap as she sat in her wheelchair. I blurted out, “Mama, what am I going to do without you? What am I going to do without you?” Her simple reply was, “You live over it!” I blindly walked over to our usual talking spot at her dining room table and I sat down and asked again, “What am I going to do without you?” She said again emphatically, as if giving me a directive, “You—live—over—it!!” I said, “Okay,” and we talked about something else.
Unexpectedly, just a few days later, Mama died suddenly. I was at her bedside when she said her last words, “Oh Lord”. I knew then that the Lord was with her. The sudden shock of losing her was almost too much to bear. For those first few days, I would wake up to the reality that she was gone and I’d have to have the help of my dear son to get back to bed. Then there was the funeral—I was in a fog and all I could say was that, “There were a whole lot of people praying for me.” I couldn’t believe I was standing on my own two feet—I know that God was holding me up.
Mama was not only my mother; she was my confidant, advisor and best friend. I was upset at first that she left me so suddenly, without warning. I focused on her words, “Live over it.” I went into her bedroom—in “her space” and cried out, “You forgot to tell me how to live over it.”
Over the next months, I decided to focus on my work. I found that work occupied my mind so that I didn’t have to confront my loss. While I drove to work, I tried to think about happy events and people in my life who made me smile. At night, I went to the YMCA and walked the treadmill and this is when I allowed myself to think about Mama. I thought about my very first memories of her and how she nurtured me and encouraged me in all ways. I reflected on how she was always on my side and would do whatever she could for me. I cherished her example of a good Christian woman who stressed that you should, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” She’d say,”…not as they do to you, but as you would have them do unto you.” She was a wonderful, caring mother who had her ups and her downs in life, but she kept going forward with trust and faith in the good Lord.
As time passed, I found that I was able to “live over it,” by working hard, doing things I enjoyed, thinking good thoughts, being around positive people who made me smile and by being physically active. These things were all critical to my healing process. Most importantly, I know that God had helped me through the storms of my life and that from years of watching and listening to Mama, I knew I needed to be closer to the Lord.
My mother taught me by her example. She was truly focused on making Heaven her home. Everything else in this life she realized was temporary and so she didn’t get too caught up in the disappointments and trials of life. Through her difficult times, I realized that she lived over much of what she had to endure. She didn’t allow her problems to consume her, she rose above them. That’s what she was instructing me to do—I could love her, miss her and remember her—but I couldn’t dwell in the difficulty of losing her—I had to live over it.