By Ginger Truitt
Fifteen years ago today, we celebrated my mother’s life at her funeral. Because she was a school teacher, it was a grand funeral with hundreds of people in attendance. The memory that stands out most is of her third-grade class, tearfully singing a song in her honor. They had only been back from spring break one day when she fell ill at school, and was rushed to the hospital.
She died at the age of 47. In four years, I will be 47. The closer I get, the more I realize how truly young my mom was.
I’ve written each year about her death, and I always try to inject a public service announcement. If you do not have a spleen, or your spleen has been damaged, get a pneumonia shot every year. Not every three years or every five years, but every single year. It could very well save your life. It would have saved my mom.
I didn’t want to write about it this year because it’s just so darn depressing. I’ve started at least three other topics, but they fall short, and the words just won’t come to the forefront of my beleaguered brain. Nothing will do until I write about that time.
For the past two months, a specific subject related to my mom’s death has been swirling in my mind. That is the subject of hope.
On Feb. 19, my nephew turned 15. As his birthday approached, I recalled a sweet memory.
In my mind’s eye, the day we buried my mom was dark and dismal. At the cemetery, my younger sisters and I said our final farewells. I turned away as my dad stretched his arms across the top of the casket, and my grandmother broke into sobs. There was so much pain. So many loose ends. So many things I’d never said, and too many things I wished I could take back.
As I turned, I saw my mother-in-law at the edge of the crowd, quietly waiting with my sister-in-law. Sitting on the ground next to them, was an infant seat. My nephew was a baby of absolute angelic perfection. From between the blankets, the most precious brown eyes gazed up at me. It was then that I felt it. Hope.
Maybe the sun had been shining all along. I have no idea. Maybe it never actually broke forth that day. But when I recall that moment, I remember the warmth of the sun shining on my face. It seemed as if those eyes were penetrating straight into my soul, and reassuring me that all would be well. It was peaceful, and serene, and I was so thankful that my sister-in-law made the effort to come that day. It’s not always easy when you have a new baby.
Fifteen years later, my nephew is more than 6 feet tall and has blue hair (we’re hoping it’s a phase), and I still feel hope when I look into his eyes. Hope that somehow the wrongs in life will be righted, and the world will become a better place.
People in every walk of life encounter times when they need to know that the sun will shine again. Sometimes, you only have to look into their eyes to convey hope. And sometimes, you just need to take a baby to a funeral.
Truitt is an author, speaker and mother of five. Find her on Facebook, Twitter (@GingerTruitt), and Pinterest. Or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.