Photo by Sandi Clarke at Unsplash

This is my first Mother’s Day without my mom. I miss her.

I wrote a flash fiction piece in 2009 that explored what losing a mother might be like and ways healing from grief might come. Obviously this was well before I knew that experience first hand, but isn’t that what fiction is about? Seeing life through someone else’s eyes and learning about ourselves at the same time?

Now that I have lived it, I believe it rings true, even if my own mother was not a gardener like the mother in this story. I hope you find encouragement or faith or even a little smile.

And if your mom is still with us–give her a call today, okay? She’d love to hear from you.

 

The Honor Garden by Glynis Becker

“Exactly when are we going to have our dining room table back?” Tom asked me, moving aside one stack of seed catalogs, so he could set down his coffee.

“When I have decided that I am finished using it,” I teased, sticking out my tongue. “And how come all of a sudden it’s ‘our’ table? Thirty-five years and you’ve never once cleaned it off or polished it. I’ll give it back when I’m done.” I laughed. Tom got up to stand behind me. He leaned over and pecked my cheek, giving my shoulders a little squeeze.

“I know. This is important to you. But just know that I’ll be glad when you can plant these things, so I have somewhere to eat my steak. I almost sent the flour canister into the trash can last night, trying to eat cut my meat standing at the island in the kitchen. I’m ready for a proper sit-down meal!” He shook his head, grabbed his mug and went in the other room.

He left me with my catalogs and my seedlings. I had turned the entire dining room, including the table, side buffet and several card tables I’d snagged from other rooms in the house, into a greenhouse. All winter I’d poured over the catalogs, making notes, drawing diagrams, researching, scouring the Internet for everything I could find about growing flowers and vegetables.

Mama had always known exactly what went where in the yard, when it needed to be planted, how much food and water and sunlight to make it grow. But she was gone and I knew I had to do this for her. No, scratch that–this was for me.

She’d only taken sick at the end of last summer. And by New Year’s she was gone. The winter had vanished in a solemn blur. I’m sure the girls had come back for Christmas. I know I’d played with the grandchildren, read stories, gone to church. But it never felt real. I felt like my own shadow, dark and visible, but without any substance.

I couldn’t even pray. What was I supposed to say? God, I know that everybody dies, but why did you take my mama so soon? Why didn’t you make me ready for it? Why didn’t you heal her? I wasn’t angry, really, just disappointed that my faith was so small I couldn’t find the joy I’d always thought I’d have when the time came.

But then the seed catalog showed up in the mail. It was addressed to Mama and I almost threw it out, when something made me thumb through it. An idea came to me and as I perused the glossy photos of all the things I could grow, I started to feel excited. That’s when the long nights on the computer and massive checkouts of library books began. I knew I’d gone overboard when Tom listened, glassy-eyed, to the fifteenth conversation that started with, “So I was thinking about our soil’s pH levels…” but I was sure I was on to something.

Mama had always wanted to share her love of gardening with me, but I’d had no interest. Except when it came to all the benefits: fresh tomatoes, homemade pickles, bouquets of my very favorite flowers, I was all over that. But this year, since I had no mama to do it for me, I’d decided to plant my own garden for her instead.

So here I sit in my makeshift greenhouse where every day I putter, adjusting lights, checking the soil and water levels to be sure that these plants will say everything that I want my mama to hear. And I know that with God’s help when the spring comes, I’ll be ready for it, in my garden and in my heart.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.com

Last year at Christmas none of us had any idea what the year 2020 would bring. Our family didn’t know that by this time, we would have one empty seat at our table with the passing of my mother. I wrote this story in January 2020, when the world was a different place. I was inspired by Pastor Barry’s Christmas Eve sermon, not knowing that my mom would be spending her next Christmas in another place, outside of time. I have no idea what she is seeing, hearing, and experiencing, but I know it is amazing.

The First Retelling of an Old, Old Story by Glynis Becker

I hope you enjoy this piece of fiction about what Christmas might be like in heaven. May we keep that sense of wonder, awe, and rejoicing at the miracle of Emmanuel all year long.

Photo by Karim Van Ben from Unsplash.com

Two weeks ago, my mother went to be with the Lord. We didn’t “lose” her because we know right where she is: with the multitude of saints who have gone on before. That may sound lofty, but our family believes that because she trusted in Jesus, she is in heaven right now, with Him. This is a difficult time for us who love her, but because we do not believe she is “gone”, we have hope we will see her again.

As a writer, I process feelings, decisions, and the world through words. I almost have to write everything down before I understand it. Some of you may have read the piece I wrote to make sense of my niece’s leukemia diagnosis several years ago, The Death of the Dragon. It encouraged me and seems to have encouraged others. 

So when my mother made the decision to suspend her treatment and allow the cancer to take its course, I needed to write. We spent that time talking, laughing, crying, holding hands, hugging, and generally spending time as a family. It was hard and joyful and sad and blessed and we agreed it was the best worst summer we could have ever had.

Mom had several divine encounters during her last months here and I took the liberty of using a few of her impressions and the thoughts she shared with us in this piece. Click the link below to read or download it.

Another Dragon’s Ending by Glynis Becker

I hope you find this encouraging. A reminder that our Healer is much bigger than any cancer, disease, or dragon, even if the healing comes in ways we don’t want. If you have questions about heaven, the Gospel, or Jesus, please post a question in the comments or use the contact form. I’m not an expert, but I’m happy to share and explore these questions with you!

Photo by Jasmin Schuler from Unsplash.com

As I’m working on this year’s annual Becker Christmas letter, I thought I’d share a short piece of fiction that I wrote eleven years ago, first written for Faithwriters.com. It won third place in the advanced category which pleased me a lot,

That dreaded yearly letter can often make us crazy for some reason. I had a little fun with this piece, but hopefully it has some substance too. I’d love to hear what you think about holiday letters–love ’em or hate ’em? Comment below or contact me using the form. Have a wonderful Advent and Christmas season!

 

Alyssa and Twinkles’ Year-End Wrap-Up by Glynis Becker

What’s the best way to start? Alyssa wondered. She scribbled the phrase Beloved friends and family, on the paper then scratched it out. Way too dramatic. Next was Hey, ya’ll, which she decided sounded too redneck. Then it was My fellow Americans which she chuckled at, then scratched out. No sense riling everybody up about the election. That one’s out.

Okay, Alyssa, she told herself, get serious. The way you’re procrastinating with this thing you’d think t was that term paper from last semester on symbolism in The Scarlet Letter. Now THAT was awful. This should be fun. Or at least marginally more enjoyable than an assignment from Professor Hawkins’ (aka Hawk Nose’s) American Literature class.

But as Alyssa glanced over at the stack of letters she’d already received this season, she knew why she was dreading this. Katie’s engaged to a doctor; Marcy’s happily-married, pregnant with baby number two, who will probably inherit her perfectly perfect curly hair just like her first child and be perfectly precocious; Joe got a job in England with a software company like he’d always wanted; and Hallie had come back from spending her summer as a missionary in Kenya, helping to set up a medical clinic. What had Alyssa done this year to compete with any one of them?

It wasn’t that she was really all THAT unhappy with her life. She was in her senior year at college, so there was a light at the end of that tunnel. She had a lot of good friends at church and work. But what was it about sitting down to summarize the past 12 months that made her wish she could add a line about wedding bells, or decorating a nursery, or somehow prove that her life was moving forward just like her friends’?

Maybe I should use a more humorous approach, she thought. Haven’t people used self-deprecating humor for centuries as a defense mechanism?

I am happy to report that because nothing significant has taken place in my life over the past year, I am able to reduce my use of ink and thereby help save the planet for my children’s children (in the hope that I do someday have children, that is) by having you search your archives, attic or trash heap for the Christmas letter I wrote last year and re-read it, simply substituting ‘senior year’ for ‘junior year’ and ‘2008’ for ‘2007’ . Thank you and best wishes.

Okay, that’s no good, but I do feel a little better, Alyssa thought with a grin. Let’s try this one:

I’m fine. Twinkles the cat is also fine. We will be spending a quiet Christmas together watching It’s a Wonderful Life and eating fudge straight from the saucepan, since we seem to be the lone creatures on the planet with nothing better to do. Even my folks decided to take advantage of a Christmas special and cruise to Hawaii.

Nope. I want a little sympathy, maybe, but that one’s downright pathetic! Alyssa crumbled up the notepaper into a miniature basketball, tossed it and missed the trash by at least six inches. Sheesh, she thought sarcastically, could this whole ordeal get any better?

Why not just be thankful?

Those words were spoken so clearly to her spirit that she knew immediately that they were not from within her. Shoot. Just when she was getting into the spirit of her pity party, God had to go and throw a wrench in it.

She sighed and picked up the stack of notepapers, knocking them against the table to line them all up. Then she started writing.

Dearest family and friends,

I have been so blessed this year. I have had the privilege of waking up each and every morning to God’s newest mercies. My health is good. I have friends with whom I share this journey and most of all, I have a God who is crazy about me. For what more should I ask?

Although some days I feel like my life has not yet begun, I rest in the hope that today I am directly where He can best use me. My prayer for each of us is that we won’t miss a single opportunity to share His light in what feels like an increasingly-darkened world. May your season be bright and next year be brighter!

In Christ’s Peace,
Alyssa

PS Twinkles the cat and I will be spending Christmas quietly this year. Feel free to drop in for fudge and movie night. Love–Alyssa