This is a personal post discussing death and I totally understand if you don’t want to read it. It’s something I needed to write.
My mother, Valencia Annette, affectionately known as Lisa, died on January 2nd–just over six weeks ago. Though she had been diagnosed with Lupus nearly three decades prior and faced a slew of complications, treatments, and challenges since then we were still taken by surprise. I woke up that morning feeling inexplicably strange and slightly afraid and went to visit her not knowing I would witness her death. My mom was the best mom. I know most everyone feels that way about their mother but she truly was and I can’t fathom God designing a better person to partner with my dad in shepherding us through life and keeping us tethered to the Lord. She was my biggest fan–the number one cheerleader for each of her five children. She was the epitome of encouragement and never put any unhealthy pressure on us. She often expressed that her heart’s desire was for us to be happy–to follow our joy–and how proud our pursuit made her. That isn’t to say that she was a lax parent. She was actually the disciplinarian in our household but struck the perfect balance with our father, who, like many Nigerian parents wanted his kids to become doctors, lawyers, and/or engineers.
As the oldest of my siblings, I’ve been told over and over to keep it together and be strong for them, which is understandable but doesn’t quite feel right. I’m a reserved person by nature so I’m not necessarily breaking down at every turn but, I do feel it’s very important for my brothers and sisters to know that it’s ok to be sad, to be confused, afraid, and just not know what to do with yourself–but that we are not alone in any of those feelings. I also want to let anyone reading this and dealing with loss know that, too. There’s no weakness in sadness and no shame in grief, which each of us experiences differently. Since January 2nd, I have been clinging to Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
My mother was my first and best example of a woman–a godly woman at that. She was the person who inspired my love of flowers and all things domestic and, in the weeks following her death, both mine and my family’s homes have been filled with beautiful sympathy arrangements and potted plants from our loved ones. One of the most maddening things has been catching myself snapping a picture of one arrangement or another in order to text it to her and chat about it only to realize she’s not here. I think I’m still in the denial stage of grief and being snapped out of it is sometimes very rough.
Mommy was so unbelievably positive and I credit the gracious way she lived her life with my stoicism. I can recall numerous time when people expressed shock to learn that she was sick because she was so upbeat and unoccupied with her own circumstances. She always showed concern for and compassion to others and seemed to literally exude sunshine. Her very life was miraculous and a testament to God’s faithfulness. She was generous with her time and resources even though she was never wealthy. She lived in a way that encouraged others and the pain of her passing has reverberated throughout our community. I know it’s easy to speak well of someone after they’ve passed away but I’m at a loss for words about even the smallest of annoyances. Mommy was an angel on Earth.