The third week of December the boys and I were lucky enough to spend time with family in West Virginia. We did a little early Christmas celebrating and fully enjoyed our time there. That Sunday I attended church at Toneda Baptist. That is the church I grew up in, was baptized in and Darrin and I were married in. It's a wonderful house of God full of wonderful people. I am always so thankful when I get the chance to return and am always welcomed back "home" with open arms. However, that particular Sunday was different.
That Sunday was the first time in all of my 37 years that my Mamaw was not sitting beside in the pew. She has been ill since the summer and unable to attend church. Of course I knew before I went that she wouldn't be there. I also knew that my mom, brother and his family would be. I never thought twice about sitting in the third pew from the front without Mamaw. It just never dawned on me that that would be a problem.
At first, when I sat down, it wasn't an issue. I was busy chatting with my family and giving hugs to my church family who I hadn't seen in a few months. However, as soon as the service started, I glanced to my left. She wasn't there! There was an empty space in the pew and an even bigger one in my heart. It was hard to sing with joy or listen to the pastor's message. My mind was focused on my Mamaw's absence.
I had felt that emptiness only once before. On May 23, 2005, my Papaw passed away. The first time I went back to church after that was extremely difficult. But, Mamaw was there to greet me with her loving smile. This time however, both of their seats were empty. I know that things change over time, but I am not ready for this change. I want my Mamaw healthy again. I want her back in her seat when church is in service. I want to hear her singing those old familiar hymns with me.
I pray daily that God will touch my Mamaw's frail body. That he will restore her health. She turned 86 on Nov. 9, 2008. I know her time here on earth is limited at this point. However, I'm just not ready to let her go yet (like I have a say so in the matter). She has so much more to do...... she has great grandchildren to watch grow, she has countless stories left to share with me, and she has so much love left to give. I know my Papaw is probably ready for her to join him in his heavenly home, but those of us left here are just not ready to let her go. Surely he'll understand.
In the meantime, I'll continue to go to my old home church every chance I get. I'll continue to smile as I greet my church family. And, I'll continue to praise the Lord with song. However, I will not look to my left until Mamaw is sitting beside me.