I’m not a mother, even though I am often mama bear to a lot of my young people, and because I’m not yet a parent I don’t really get the whole “parental pride” thing. I don’t really understand what it is to be so proud of someone (who is a part of you) that it makes you do embarrassing things at sports day etc. Although I’m not a parent, I’m obviously still someone’s child, so I do know what it’s like to have parents be proud of me, but the other side of that relationship is a beautiful thing that I am yet to experience and understand.
Parental pride for someone where one or both parents have died is an interesting thing. Suddenly you are faced with the huge desire to make them proud (that may or may not have existed before they died) and no opportunity for feedback – no way of knowing if they were or continue to be proud of you… I must admit its a huge thing that I have struggled with as I have expressed and explored the grief of my mum dying. Hearing things like “your mum would have been so proud of you”, while lovely to hear, are I’m sorry to say, just not enough. I needed to hear it from her.
My very lovely and very wise dissertation tutor, during one of our many conversations (I was probably crying), once asked what I believed about people who had died being able to watch over us. I replied, honestly, that often it was something that was too painful to think about and so I didn’t really have an opinion. She told me that she liked to think that God lets our special people see glimpses of really important moments in our lives, almost like they are, once again, being allowed a peak through the windows of our lives. That seemed to connect with the desire to make my mum proud in some way that was within me, and so in reflecting on that idea more, decided that I’d like to think that is what happens.
So today, as some of you may know (I’ve banged on about it enough), I handed in my dissertation. Today was one of those days where I hope God let my mum look through the windows into my life. But if I’m totally honest, the actual handing in bit was a bit of an anti climax… I didn’t feel a massive sense of relief, a dove didn’t descend from heaven and the curtain in the temple did not rip in two. Although I knew my remaining family members were proud and I myself felt proud of all I’d achieved, I was still left with the question that has come to define much of what I do; “Mum, are you proud of me?!”
I don’t know about you but my car is where I tend to a lot of praying, thinking and wrestling with God (I also sing a lot!) Today, as I drove home, I was wrestling with whether I would ever feel my question was answered. While I wrestled I was listening to the super holy Now 81… And then I’d like to think something miraculous happened. The song JLS sang for sport relief this year came on, as soon as I heard this song the first time it connected with me on avery deep level.
The chorus says: “Now I’m hoping, if you hear this, you’ll believe that all that I do is to make you proud”
That song, for me, summed up what I wish I could say to my mum on almost a daily basis.
Well today, as JLS geared up for the last big chorus I turned a corner in my car and was faced with a huge double rainbow… I let out a half gasp, half sob. It was as if me singing along, almost echoing the chorus and witching it could be heard, God had let my mum answer me with a rainbow. A symbol of promise that, yes she was proud and yes she knows that everything I do is to make her proud.
I wept, I nearly crashed, I spent the rest of the journey lost in awe and thankfulness and gratitude.
This probably won’t mean anything to many of you, but I just had to share it.
And I want to leave you with one final thought about rainbows… Today at uni we were discussing the problem of evil (it was a light day) and the of classic line “God works all things for good” cropped up. Now I have always struggled with that verse, I believe it, but I hated it at the same time – mainly because, as much as I have done so much work out of my bereavement experience and can relate to young people in a way others can’t, I never wanted to get to a place where I described my mums death as “good”. Because it just wasn’t. Simple as that.
The lecturer today flipped that verse though and said that “God can redeem certain things for good” and I liked that much better… Rainbows don’t make it not matter that it rained, it rained and that sucks… But rainbows redeem some of that, and they are something beautiful to come from a sucky place.
It will never be “good” that my mum died… But certain aspects of it have been and will be redeemed, and beautiful things can and will come from that redemption.