What a difference this year has been. The first year of my life without my mother. For 53 years I enjoyed her smile, clung to her comfort, counted on her generosity, bathed in her kindness, and cherished her unconditional love for me. I was her baby boy and we had a special relationship of our own.
I wasn’t a very good son for most of my life. I was a spoiled child who grew up and made some bad choices. I remember her saying things like, “your giving me a nervous breakdown”, when I was a kid. As an adult I went AWOL from the army and was a member and leader of 2 motorcycle clubs (gangs). She worried for me when I was hospitalized from a shooting and beatings, while I was on the run from the police, as I was preoccupied with drugs, alcohol, and violence, and finally as a homeless crack addict, lying and stealing from her and my father. Later in life I remember her telling me, “I hope one of us dies soon… you or me.” She couldn’t hardly take it anymore.
During the worst of these times my mom loved me enough to make the tough choices. She loved me enough to allow me to suffer the consequences of my bad choices until those consequences became overwhelming to me and I began to make some right choices.
In April of 2007 I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. This is truly when everything changed. After 44 years of living life completely wrapped up in what I wanted I realized it’s not all about me. After a year of sobriety my momma asked me to come home to NC.
I’m so grateful to God and to Celebrate Recovery for the 8 years I was able to be there with and for my momma as a sober, Christian son. Still not perfect but better. She could count on me, even though I complained sometimes to others about the frequent calls that she needed me for this or that, I would give anything to have to stop by there and take out her trash or change a light bulb again. We talked every day and she would ask me to come by for this or that sometimes several times a day. She loved me and just wanted to spend time with me. She supported me in my business, my Christianity, my recovery, my acting, and anything else I was doing. Her friends would tell me how she bragged about me all the time. She was the one I called first when I got an audition, booked a role, got a big job, or was asked to share my testimony. She was my biggest fan, my greatest supporter, and most valuable encourager. She would say, “we’re in this together”, “let’s trust God”, and “this too shall pass”. She was a great example to me. Strong but kind and caring, generous, giving, and loving.
We prayed together most mornings, talked several times a day. When I was on the road late I would text her when I got home so she would see it first thing when she woke up. We enjoyed weekend breakfasts, morning coffee, and maybe even a little gossip.
I’ll never forget the Sunday morning in December 2015 when I got the call, during a church service, that her family doctor wanted her to go to Duke hospital in Raleigh right away. I met her, her best friend Liz, and my sister Jeannie there. I’ll never forget when they told her it was cancer. I got angry at my sister for repeating it. I left the hospital that day and my life was changed forever.
Over the next 5 months I would watch my momma go through treatment. I would see the hope go away and the despair of her realizing she wasn’t getting better. I was blessed to share all of this with her. I was blessed to pray with her, laugh with her, encourage her, comfort her, and simply be with her. I had forgotten, until a Facebook Memory popped up, that on her last Mothers Day, 2 days before she passed away, that I had slept next to her, in her bed and on that Mothers Day she woke up knowing I was there. This is a gift from God to me. 2 days later, as she passed from this world to the next again I was blessed to be there with her.
The last year has had some difficult times but God has given me some purpose in her passing. I miss her most days, when I have exciting news and want to share with her, when I stop by the Credit Union where she worked for 47 years, when I arrive at an out of town location and I wish I could call her to tell her I had made it safely.
I have missed her this year and I’ll continue to miss her. Today marks a year since she left us. My life is changed, some good and some not so good, but I can see the collateral beauty of her death in much of what God is doing in and through me. He didn’t cause the tragedy but He’s using it and I’m so grateful that my eyes are open to His purpose, His recycling of pain, His plan.
Yes, I miss her today but I’ll see her again. This I’m sure of and grateful for. I’m also grateful that today I can experience the pain without turning to unhealthy choices to numb it. I’m grateful to God for Celebrate Recovery which, through the process of recovery, has given me the tools to handle life on lifes terms. I'm also grateful that I have a Forever Family who love and accept me flaws and all. I've learned that it's ok to be me as long as I'm "me" for His glory.