It was almost time to begin. I saw my beautiful mother seated in the dimly lit church. Her eyes stared straight ahead, not really seeing, I thought. My heart went out to her.
How long ago was the accident? My mind reached back with difficulty. Had it been almost two years?
I had come home from college for Thanksgiving holidays, bringing piles of dirty laundry. Pinching pennies, I was saving extra money for Christmas shopping with my mom while I was home. We always had a blast, storming the malls, laughing at the differences in our tastes in everything from clothing to latest food fads. The outing was a treasured tradition.
“You gals have a good time, and don’t spend all my money, Anna,” Dad had teased Mom, as he left for work. Steven, my laid-back brother, shuffled to the pickup. Dad was dropping him off at the high school, since Steven’s car wouldn’t start.
Mom smiled and gave Dad her warmest hug. “Never mind, Jeffery Cole. I remember, you once told me that what was yours was mine. That includes this little sum I’ll be spending recklessly and foolishly today.” I knew both of them were enjoying the exchange and, deep down, loved pleasing one another. As Dad mockingly tipped his cap and drove away, I thanked God for my warm, loving parents.
Little more than an hour later, Mom and I backed out of the drive as the police car pulled up. Apprehension gripped me.
“Mrs. Anna Cole?” asked a young officer solemnly. When Mom nodded he continued. “I’m afraid I have some very bad news, ma’am. Could we go inside and sit down?”
“No.” Mom stood still as a stone. “What is it? Tell me here, now.”
The young man took a deep breath. “ A few miles down the freeway, ma’am, – an accident. A driver of a tractor-trailer rig lost control, crossed the median, and plowed head-on into the west bound lane. It was a bad pileup, several people killed instantly. I’m so sorry, Mrs. Cole, but your husband and son were among them. Some first responders recognized and identified them. They told us where you lived. We came right away.” He sighed.
“It’s a mistake ” I screamed. “They just left here.” Mom’s arms were around me, but they felt stiff and cold. It was like her spirit was no longer in her body. Only jerky movements and flat words came.
“Be brave, Jenny,” she told me. “We have to tend to things...make arrangements... I will need you to call your grandparents.” While I cried hysterically, Mom remained dry-eyed, stoic.
“It’s shock,” I told people later. “ She’ll get past it.”
There was a surreal blur - funeral services, grandparents, relatives, friends trying to comfort, then the stifling quietness of the empty house. I ached for Mom to hold me, to cry with me. Instead she closed herself in her room, leaving me to grapple with devastation. I was crushed, alone, as if all my family was gone at once.
My growing-up was accelerated overnight, as I felt almost like a caregiver and business manager. As months passed, I yearned for my mom, but she remained the same. Doctors and counselors were unable to help her, as she retreated somewhere within herself. Unwilling to converse, she replied only to direct questions.
Needing to stay close-by, I didn’t return to college, but instead worked on completing my degree with mostly online courses.
In our old home church, I began to find a new sense of God’s comfort, as well as some great friends. It was there also I met a wonderful guy named Clint. This godly man became very special to me. His growing love soothed my hurting heart. We had joined our hearts and dreams and begun to plan our future together.
Today was our wedding day, and though Mom was unsmiling, she looked especially pretty and content in the pew.
As Clint and I exchanged our vows, there was a quiet sob. Turning slightly, I saw Mom’s body trembling, with tears gushing, sadness and joy pouring out together.
At the vivid reminder of her cherished love, my mother was returned to me, released to live again. This was confirmed as I walked back down the aisle, clinging to Clint’s arm. Mom’s eyes deliberately met mine, as she smiled through tears. Together we could now remember Dad and Steven. Beaming at Clint, I knew there were days of restoration and new joys ahead.
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