The Worst Seat on the Plane

Tuesday, September 10: Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn.

I don’t talk about my Mom much. I don’t really write about her.  I haven’t seen her for 3,160 days.

This isn’t about the day she died. Nor is it about how hard it is to be a grown up without a mom, how you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, or how cancer and death is something that ‘happens to other people’ until it happens to you. It could be, but it’s not.

This is about getting the worst seat on the plane, and being so grateful for that.

Days before her forty-first birthday, her body couldn’t hold on anymore & God was gracious enough to take Mom home to Him. I was twenty years old and weeks away from starting my second year of studies at UCT. A year filled to the brim with extra courses, a demanding management/ student council role, and now a grieving family. A lot of what followed is a blur.

Shew. There is a lot to say. I think that soon I’ll start to say it. It’s really tough to find words for emotions that were cloudy at the worst of times. For now, suffice to say that there’s no hand book for grief, & my experience is that it is entirely unpredictable. It hides & then catches you by surprise; it is nothing like they say, & everything like they say at the same time.

Sitting in a minute window seat in the back row, near the loo on a dodgy smelling plane, God spoke to me. Almost two years later. Years full of days of missing her & wondering ‘what now?’ Days where, without ever articulating it, my heart’s aching echo was ‘…but I need my mom’.

I was finished my degree and on my way ‘home’ to Zim for the first time in years. I don’t fly often & was disappointed with my seat & already uncomfortable as we took to the skies. Out of the blue, God whispered in my ear, quiet & clear, ‘I have given you everything you need’ (2 Pet 1:3). I didn’t have energy left to argue or question. What could be brushed aside as an empty platitude was the salve I craved.

I have given you everything you need. And just like that, I knew He was right. After all the questions, uncertainty & all the confusion, this is what was true.

Cramped in the back of that awful plane I ugly cried through a roll of grey single ply. I dragged my puffy face off the plane & spent a week letting myself feel everything. I drove around all the places she brought me up.

Everywhere I missed her, I heard Him. I have ever since.

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