(and if you don’t know Ruth, read this post. You’ll love her.)
My sister sobbed through the phone when she called this morning. Sequestered in her bedroom, nestled in pillows and an old comforter; she didn’t want to go downstairs, to smile and face the cheer of the day.
You see, it’s her birthday
Last year, Ruth’s day fell on Easter. Even though her birthday is always during Easter season (she was born on Good Friday) it has only fallen on the actual day twice in her thirty-six years. And Oh! my mom celebrated Ruth last year.
Ruth came home to a house filled with flowers, balloons tied to chairs and crepe paper hung from the chandelier. Neatly wrapped packages littered the table and my parents had filled the refrigerator with ingredients for a sumptuous dinner. They went to church together and made dinner and my mother told bunny stories to the kids as the evening waned. It was, as both my sister and father remember it, the last good day.
I’d offered to fly to California for today; I knew it would be hard. But Ruth assured me she’d be fine and the challenges of a mommy being gone on a Monday are many. And so I stayed home and cried with her this morning as she asked, “How can a celebrate when my heart is broken?” She worried that she won’t be gracious to her friends and family; she’s worried that everyone is tired of her grief.
Oh how I understand! I feel like everyone around me is questioning, “Aren’t you better yet?”
In many ways, I am. And yet, not.
I find it difficult to accomplish much in a day. I drift a lot. Tears spring to my eyes far too often for me to consider wearing mascara again. And I sense that people are bored with my mourning– Move on! Get up! Accomplish something!– I’m struggling just to cover the basics.
With her added burden of a bad back, my sister feels like everyone in her life is anxious for her to feel better, to move on, to get up. She’s been forced to ask for so many favors and unable to reciprocate. Walking and driving are back in her repertoire but she still can’t heft a bag of flour or babysit for a friend.
And still, she inspires.
A few days ago Ruth was driving somewhere with her daughter Lizzy. At almost 13, Lizzy is 100% adorable but also loves to roll her eyes at her parents. Ruth said something about improving herself and Lizzy disagreed– “I don’t know what more you could do, mom. I’m in awe of you.”
It was a tender mercy for Ruth– who spent the past several months on the couch, crying, feeling impatient, gaining weight and trying to be the best mother she could– to hear that her efforts weren’t in vain.
I, Ruth, am in awe of you too.