It’s Saturday morning. I receive a text message from my dad.
“Gm dollbaby, am heading 2 durham, call me when you get time, service 4 my loving niece 2 day, looking 2 c u there, love you dearly.”
I put the phone down, take a deep breath and crawl back into bed.
I don’t want to go to the funeral. What can I do or say to change the pain of a mother losing her only daughter?
As I lie in bed, a series of questions flood my mind. Why does the federal government subsidize soybeans and corn, the two main ingredients in diabetic-inducing junk food? How can someone live in the City of Medicine and die at 30, from a lifestyle illness? Why are toxic chemicals purposely pumped into our food, water and air?.
In the midst of the questions, a thought comes: Call mom.
I pause, a little shocked.
The thought to call mom as a point of refuge has not happened in almost 10 years, since her stroke. Why bother her with my problems when she is already going through so much? Today is different. I need her there. I take a deep breath and call mom.
She says yes to going to the funeral. I reiterate that my dad will be there. She says yes again. I hang up the phone and jump in the shower.
We arrive at a beautiful church with plush green grass and a long walkway from the parking lot to the front door. Oh no. No wheelchair. Mother has only been walking with a cane for a weeks; I don’t know if she was expecting this.
As soon as I park the car, my dad comes to greet us. He opens the door and my heart stops. I stare at my mother. How does she feel at this moment? How will she respond? She and my dad have not been in close encounters since 1991.
With grace, she smiles, says hello and allows him to support her. With my dad standing to the left of her, in place of her cane, and me standing to the right with my arm around her shoulder, the three of us begin the journey inside the church.
My mom walks, chest high, shoulders back and a large smile on her face. She grips my dad tightly, very aware of her limitation. The gesture brought tears to my eyes. It was a true show of forgiveness, compassion and humility.
I glance at my dad and see a shift in him. He is genuinely happy. A burden is released. He knows he is forgiven, by grace.
I look around and I see a lot of people who had to let a lot of things go, to come together.
The strength in struggle. I glance back at my mom, freedom.
She walks to the very front pew of the church to hug my grieving aunt. There are no words. Just a deep embrace. An embrace that says you are not alone, everyone has their struggles, you are loved, and thank you.
Somehow I also feel this embrace. I let out a deep sigh. Tears pour. A feeling of sincere gratitude rushes over me.
My thoughts shift. Just show up. Breathe. Be present. Walk in gratitude. Praise life. Have respect for all life. Be who you are.
I nod my head and whisper softly to myself,
“Just show up.”
I take a seat and the choir starts to sing.
My mom starts to shout hallelujah.
I am glad I came.
Each breath is a gift.
Louisha Barnette is a community yoga teacher, health coach and creator of pureloveagoy.com