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The doctor walked out of Mama’s hospital room shaking his head. “Sorry,” he said. “We did everything to save her, but your mama died.” His voice trailed off and sounded distant. Tears flooded my eyes. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I just lost the only person left who I could truly talk to; the person who understood me most. Just yesterday I thought there was hope for her; she seemed to be healing. Now instead of my mama healing, like she promised, I lost her forever.
My grandma took me home and told me it was going to be alright. Even though she tried to hide the pain of losing her only child, I could tell that Grandma was hurting inside. Not to mention that her eyes were still glazed over from the tears she cried.
I felt like my whole world was caving in. My daddy died two years ago while fighting in the army, and now, today my mama died. I have no idea of where I should turn or where I should go. All I know is that for now I’m staying with my grandma and grandpa.
All night in my restless sleep the doctor’s voice rang through my head. I could see Mama lying, lifelessly, on the hospital bed. She looked so peaceful. The words “Sorry, we did everything to save her, but your mama died,” taunted me every second I laid in my bed. When I woke up, my pillow was drenched with the tears I cried. I just couldn’t, and wouldn’t, accept the fact that my mama was gone.
On the morning of Mama’s funeral, Grandma came into my room with a book in her hands. She said to me “Adriana, I want you to see this. It’s a scrapbook I made for you and your Mama. I’d like you to have it.”
“Thanks Grandma; this book means a lot to me.” Just for a split second I felt joy in my heart once again. Then I remembered that Mama wasn’t here to see this beautiful book Grandma made for us. She spent so much time on it and made it with lots of love. Every page had evidence of hard work and a well planned layout. I loved the special book and Mama would have too. She would have been so proud of Grandma.
As I flipped through the pages, I came across a picture of Mama and me dancing together. I guess Grandma saw the puzzled look on my face. “Do you remember when you were younger and you’d dance with her,” she questioned. I could tell by the intensity in her eyes that I had to remember. It was like she was trying to get me to forget all the pain inside my heart, while trying to mend her broken heart. I could tell she wanted me to remember the enjoyable memories and forget the sorrowful hours ahead.
“Yeah I remember. Mama used to take me by the hands and spin me around. I used to lay my head back and…” I just couldn’t talk about it anymore. I felt the horrible tightening feeling in my chest once again. It felt like my heart was ripped out of me.
“Grandma, I’m sorry but can we talk about something else?” Tears streamed down my cheeks.
“Oh sweetie, of course,” she just held me and we cried together as we rocked back and forth on the front porch stairs.
Just then Grandpa walked outside. His eyes were red and swollen. It looked like he had been crying. In a hushed voice he said, “I know it’s devastating for you to lose your mama, but I want you to know that no matter what happens God loves you very much.” Grandpa swallowed hard trying to fight back tears.
“Grandpa, if God loves me as much as you say He does why did He take my mama from me?”
“Oh Adriana, God has a plan for your life. Yes, He allowed your mama to die, but there’s so much more. You have to trust Him and know that He knows what’s best for you. Normally we can’t see the big picture and we may feel completely helpless, but we have to have faith. Think about your mama. She was in extreme pain before she died. Now she is in Heaven: a place where there is no pain, no suffering, and no tears. Do you see what I’m trying to tell you?” He stared right into my eyes the same way Mama used to when she was trying to make a point clear. Tears streamed down his face.
I didn’t know how to respond to what Grandpa said. I just nodded my head as I rocked back and forth on the porch. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was so overwhelmed that I could feel my head pounding. It was too much for me. I had just lost my mama and now Grandpa said that there is a God who loves me so much and knows what’s best for me. Yet at the same time, He let my mama die.
“Well, we better get going. We don’t want to be late,” Grandma said.
All the way to the funeral home, pictures of Mama flooded into my head and Grandpa’s words rang through my ears. My chest felt tight and my head was pounding making it hard to breath. I knew there had to be some truth in what Grandpa said, but it was still too overwhelming for me. I could picture Mama putting me on her lap and reading a story to me. After she was finished she would sing me a song in her sweet, angelic voice. I tried to picture the good years when Mama was still healthy. I could see us dancing under the stars in the summer while catching fireflies; or splashing in puddles and sliding around in the mud. Then my mind flashed back to the traumatic years. One of the most horrific memories that is still vivid in my mind is the day I found out Mama had cancer. I could hear her cry out in pain. The doctors tried to do everything for her, but it was useless. There was nothing that could be done. I remember the look of fear and pain on her face. I could tell she was only fighting to live because of her family.
I always tried to convince Mama that she was going to heal. When she seemed to be doing better I made her promise me that she would be okay and she did. I guess we were wrong.
After an hour of driving we arrived at the funeral home. All of a sudden the reality that, after today, I would never see my mama again dawned on me. It felt like my heart dropped into my stomach.
We walked into the room and looked at Mama lying in the casket. She looked so beautiful. I decided that Grandma and Grandpa could say their final goodbyes to her first. As I watched them I cried. When they came back, I walked over to the casket and embraced Mama one last time. Tears flowed down my face. The last thing she said to me before she died was “Adriana, no matter what happens to me I love you and I’ll always be with you. Even if you can’t see me I know that you’ve created a place for me in your heart. Remember that I love you and God will always be with you.”
The funeral service sounded like a blanket of mixed words to me, but I will never forget the song they played. It was Mama’s favorite song. As I listened to the lyrics of “Amazing Grace”, everything started to make sense: what Grandpa had said, the words Mama said to me right before she died, and even some of the church services. As I reflected on what I heard today, and what I’ve heard a while ago in church, and the more I thought about it, the more everything seemed to fit together like a puzzle.
As I contemplated the lyrics of “Amazing Grace” one more time, I couldn’t help but relate Mama’s life to the words. She always seemed so positive. Even when she was battling cancer she had a sense of peace that I never understood until today. I now know that Mama was positive in any situation because of God’s amazing grace.
After the funeral was over and Mama was buried, Grandma and Grandpa drove me home. Dinner was quite that evening. No one wanted to talk. We just sat quietly and picked at our food.
As we were finishing dinner, someone knocked on our front door. I was surprised to see some of Mama’s closest friends standing on the porch. Mama's best friend, Leanne, stood in front of the group.
“Adriana, I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. She was an amazing woman. I can’t imagine how hard it is for you. As a group, we decided to buy you and your grandparents these gifts. We hope you will accept them and understand how much we will miss her. We also want you to know that we will be praying for you and your family at this time, and that if you ever need anything just call us and we’ll be available any time.”
“Thank you so much. You guys are a great encouragement to us at such a difficult chapter in our lives. Thanks for the gifts and taking time to visit us. I pray that God will bless you all,” Grandma said. I would have thanked them, but I couldn’t find the words to say.
After the group left, I opened one of the gifts that were addressed to me. Inside the beautiful package was a Bible. Even though Mama had a Bible and we went to church I never actually had read it on my own time. As I ran my fingers over the letters that were engraved into the beautiful leather cover, Grandma appeared in the doorway.
“Adriana, we need to talk,” she said. By the tone of her voice I could tell she was serious.
“Is something wrong?” I asked. For a split second fear rushed through me.
“No, It’s just that ever since you’ve came to live with us I’ve wanted to tell you about Jesus, but I’ve been waiting for the right time. When Leanne gave you that Bible, I knew that it was the perfect time to tell you. You know that your mama was a Christian and that your grandpa and I are too, right?”
“Yeah, I know that, but what does it mean to be a Christian?”
“That’s exactly what I want to talk to you about. You’ve probably heard of the verse John 3:16 at church. It says ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ The verse is saying that because of God’s great love for us He sent his son Jesus to us. Jesus was born in a stable around Christmas. He lived on earth for about thirty years. He performed many miracles; he healed the sick, and gave sight to the blind. After about thirty years of life on the earth Jesus was crucified. Even though He lived a perfect life, He died for us. You see, there was sin in the world and sin acted as a barrier. Jesus was crucified so that sin would no longer act as a barrier, so we could be made right with God. All of our sins were placed on Jesus when He died. That doesn’t mean that there is no sin in the world today, but it does mean that we can ask Jesus to be our savior and to forgive us for all of our sins. The choice is ours to make. All you have to do is pray and ask God to forgive you for your sins, to be your savior, and to come into your heart. If you are a Christian, you don’t have to fear death because when you die you’ll go to Heaven to be with Jesus, but if you aren’t a Christian you’ll spend the rest of eternity separated from him. The choice is yours.”
For the first time ever, I felt like there was more to my life. I knew that I had to change the way I lived if I wanted to fulfill my purpose. At that moment, I realized that the Bible Leanne gave me was the most important gift I had ever received.
I walked all the way to the cemetery just so I could be by my mama’s grave. After standing by the gravestone for a few minutes and reflecting on the past, I knelt down and prayed for the first time in my life. I said, “God, I know I’m a sinner. Please forgive me for all the times I’ve sinned against you. I believe that Jesus died on the cross so that I could be made right with you. Thank you for sending Him to earth so that I could spend eternity with you. I’m tired of the way I used to live. I know that I can’t do everything on my own. Holy Spirit, please come into my life and lead me. God I want to follow you. Amen.” After I finished praying, I felt an overwhelming sense peace and comfort rush through me. Not only did I know that my mama and daddy would have been proud of me, but I also knew that I had a new life in Christ; I could start fresh every day.
I raced home and burst through the front door. I couldn’t wait to tell my grandparents about my decision to become a Christian. “Grandma, Grandpa, where are you guys? I have to tell you something!” I exclaimed as I walked into the family room.
“We’re upstairs, sweetie.” Grandpa called back down. It sounded kind of distant so I assumed they were in their bedroom.
I raced up the stairs and ran into my grandparents’ room. “Guess what, guess what!” I said as I tried to catch my breath. “Grandma, you know how you came and talked to me about how we have a choice where we want to spend eternity, I decided where I want to be. I decided that I want to spend eternity in Heaven. I went to visit Mama’s gravesite and while I was there I prayed and became a Christian!” My eyes sparkled and my face glowed. I had finally felt a sense of peace in my heart that I hadn’t felt for years.
“Adriana, we are so proud of you! We were hoping and praying you would eventually decide to follow Christ. Your Grandpa and I were talking and we decided that we want to send you to a Christian school this fall. Leanne also volunteered to pick you up once a week so you can to the youth group at her church. Is that okay with you?”
“Thanks I’d love that. I really want to make good Christian friends who will help me grow in my faith. I think going to a Christian school would be the best choice for me. I don’t know about the whole youth group thing, but I’ll give it a try.”
When the summer ended, Leanne came and picked me up, just like she said, just so I could go to the youth group at her church. To my surprise, everyone was so welcoming, and in just one night I felt as though my faith had grown. I can’t, and I never will, be able to thank my grandparents, and Leanne, enough for all they did, and are doing for me.
Even though I don’t have my momma and daddy anymore I don’t feel so alone. Grandma and Grandpa have become more than grandparents to me. I think of them as my mentors, friends, and grandparents. Because of Leanne’s faithfulness to her word, I have grown in my faith and have become friends with some strong, Christian girls. Leanne also became like a second mother to me. In so many ways she reminds me of my mamma. She understands how I feel and she listens. Leanne has also taught me about how God will never leave me and how even if I don’t want to share my concerns with anyone else, I can take them to the welcoming arms of Christ.