“This one I wore in high school,” she says as her fingers played gently with the pearl necklace. I sat down on the silky bed cover next to my mother and looked closely at the frail chain with the pearl and tiny diamond on the end. “It’s lovely,” I say.
My younger two daughters were getting on and off the bed. I felt the bump of the bed with each girl-hop. “Your bed’s soft Grandma,” Daughter #3 said. Mom smiled and we turned back to the collection of a lifetime of jewelry.
She holds up a ring-her senior ring. I marvel at how it looks pretty new. We laugh together at the necklaces obviously from the 1980’s and 90’s…the trendy, the gaudy, the big hoop earrings. Another ring catches my eye, and I pick it up. I try it on every finger, but it only fits my pinky. “This is a great ring,” I say as I admire the silver ring set with six stones. Six stones….one for each of her children. My birthstone finishes the line-up. “Your fingers are so small,” I say. Mom agrees, and we continue. She is putting a few things in a bag that I know is for me. The little girls are paying attention now. She beckons them, and in a knightly way, puts a necklace on each girl. They jump up and down and shout their thanks and run into the other room.
“I’m going to church next week,” Mom declares. “Will you wear a mask?” I ask. “No. I’m finished with that,” she said, “I’m gonna do what I want to do now.” “Good, I think that is good,” I say. She squeezes me close, and I put her smell into my memory. “You look good. You seem stronger,” I encourage. She nods, “Yes, I am.”
As I am making the long drive home, I am reflective of many things. Personality differences of sisters. Large family interactions. My mom reclaiming independence for as long as she can. She risks when she puts down the mask. She doesn’t have much immunity to germs and diseases out and about. But, there are germs and fungi and diseases on our own skin too. The analogy hits me hard. She’s making decisions to live…to really live. Her decisions are making her brave or maybe that’s backwards. Mom is real about the reality of life and death. She knows what she doesn’t know. There is true wisdom. She is risking, but she knows living is worth the risk of dying. It’s her journey. It’s not the journey for everyone. Or is it?
What mask do I wear? How do I protect myself in a soul-type way? Am I real about the reality? Do I know what I don’t know? Am I risking?
“If I’m honest, I don’t know if I really want to know God more,” I tell my sister-in-law, “It’s uncomfortable to have to change, to peel off the layers of the funky, to go deeper.” It hurts some to even desire a deeper faith. I have to risk. I have to take the mask off. I have to face the mirror and the scary. This means letting go of perception, expectation, fear, failures, pettiness, selfishness, narrow-living.
“I can breathe so much deeper without that mask,” Mom said. “You can probably see better too,” I said in response.
Letting go of the mask frees us all to embrace the Truth filled with Love. Lighter and with clarity we see:
God offering us an abundant life. You get your life back— the life you were meant to live.