“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:26-27
When I think about grief, I think about Mary. Mary was standing and watching her son, Jesus, suffer on the Cross. He was bloody and tired. Despite the agony, Jesus prepared his mother, Mary, for the transition. He introduced Mary and one of his disciples as “mother” and “son.” I find this entire conversation between Jesus, his mother and the disciple to be selfless. But this selflessness is who Jesus is. He not only endured beatings and brutality as He hung on the Cross for all human beings; He ensured that His mother would have companionship.
When I think about grief, I think about my mom and dad caring for my sister for over 15 years as she was challenged by disease. When she was first diagnosed with the disease, she was still able to talk and walk. But a few years later, the disease removed her ability to speak, to walk, or to date and get married. I’m certain my mom and dad did not think their daughter would be plagued by such suffering when they rocked her and fed her a bottle as a newborn. Yet, the disease jumped into my sister’s body and forced her to abandon her interests in modeling. And my parents remained dedicated to being her caretakers until her death.
When I think about grief, I think about a picture of my sister, nephew, niece, and me. It was a picture from the 90’s as my sister was wearing an oversized plaid shirt with vibrant red lipstick. I don’t remember what we were doing on the day that picture was taken or who even took it. But we were sitting closely together as family members who love each other do. We were all doing our own poses. With my two little fingers, I was holding bunny ears above my sister’s head.
When I think about grief, I think about when I was a teenager, the doctors said my sister only had six months to live. It truly scared me, and I ended up writing a poem about it. Back then, words were my friends as they still are now. Looking back, it seems odd that I, as a 7th/8th grader, was preoccupied with death and writing poems about it. Perhaps, it wasn’t odd, as my sister’s constant trips to the hospital were a huge part of my adolescence.
When I think about grief, I think about how this month, my mom would have wished my sister both “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Birthday.” A few days after Christmas, she would have walked into her bedroom. And in her cute, Southern way, she would have exclaimed”Happy Birthday Wan.” Then, she would have kissed my sister on the forehead.
When I think about grief, I think about silly memories that I had with my sister. When I was in elementary school, I told my sister that I had a crush on a Latino boy. She looked at me and said that “Spanish boys don’t like Black girls.” I laugh now, because I was a shy bookworm when I was little. A shy bookworm who had a crush.
When I think about grief, I think about what I have heard preachers say. They speak about how Earth is not our home, and we are only passing through. They’re right. Even on my grief journey, I acknowledge that death is a transition that we will all experience. We will see our loved ones die, and we will eventually die too.
But I am learning that I can still think about the positive memories that my sister and I had. Although, I know that she is singing and dancing in Heaven; I still miss her. But she is experiencing such freedom that she did not experience on Earth.