My Mom was perhaps the best listener God ever put on this earth. Sure, my hunch is that many folks would argue, and many would probably make a fine case for their moms. (And maybe this is a shared Christmas miracle). What I know to be true is that my Mom always, always listened with her heart.
From my earliest memory Mom was a leaner-in-ner. My sisters would be glad to share their stories as well. It didn’t matter if she was listening to a bad day at school or winning a tennis tournament (and Mom knew nothing at all about tennis), Mom would listen. She would pour a cup of coffee, light a cigarette and ask to hear it all. When we came back from camp and after getting our 12 or 24 exposures developed at Osco’s, Mom would want to hear all we had to say about each picture. For Mom, each picture captured a moment of my life, and I knew in my heart-of-hearts (as she used to say) that that precious, particular moment mattered to her more than anything else in the world.
These holiday days can hold so many moments. Every now and then it’s almost as if my spirit comes awake – and I am aware of the preciousness of a moment. It might be a string of Christmas lights, or a chorus of a Christmas carol, or a taste of those peanut butter cookies with the chocolate kiss in the middle. It might be anything that awakens your heart. And when you find yourself suddenly `filled up with joy,’ accept the gift. And it is a precious gift. Mom taught me this lesson well.
This year I am wishing I could talk with Mom. I so wish that I could tell her about family and friends, about music and writing, about work and the challenges of the world. I can see her sitting in a comfortable chair with her legs tucked up under, and there she would be - nodding and leaning in. Listening for the story. Listening for the struggle and the hope. Listening for how I am making my way in the world.
There is an aching that comes when I realize no one can ever take her spot. No one will ever take her place. I have lovingkindness all around me and am so, so thankful. But still…
I know no one can fill her empty place in my everyday, but I know that her living taught me well about carrying on. It is when the days are growing darker and those Christmas lights seem twice as bright that I sense her with me. Something, somehow invites me to lean in. Some nudge will come along and bring my weary spirit into a moment that will soon hold a new memory. I feel it. I trust it. As I lean in and somehow with a loving part of Mom companioning me, I listen with all my heart.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan (now a freshman at Guilford College) and Sam at sophomore at DHS in Decatur, GA.