Maybe you’ve been there before. That moment of complete exhaustion and quiet, when your eyes turn from pouring out tears with the force of Niagara Falls to resembling the crustiness of the Sahara Desert. My earliest recollection of crying this hard was when I was seven-years old, and Danny Helms, my best friend in the entire world, moved away.
As I watched the Helms’ car pull out of our driveway for the last time, all I thought about was how much I hated Michigan. Stupid Michigan. I didn’t care about the convenient way its residents have of showing people where they’re from or that they have a stellar apple crop. All I cared about was that my friend was gone.
I remember the hug goodbye, and the exchange of presents. Danny gave me a Michigan T-shirt that I faithfully wore for years, despite my distaste for the state as a whole. But what I remember more than anything about that night is how my mom just let me cry. In the living room of our house, only a few yards from the front door, there was a big, blue recliner. When we were small, my mom would rock us to sleep in this chair. That night, she pulled me into her lap as tears streaked my dusty face, my hands and knees dirty from playing outside.
She didn’t say things like, “You’ll get over this,” or “You’ll find another best friend.” She just held me as I sobbed, not saying a word.
There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8 NLT). When I read this, I can’t help thinking about my mom. I try to imagine her capturing and preserving each of the tears I’ve cried throughout my life. They’d be labeled things like “3-years old – lost favorite doll,” “7-years old – best friend moved,” and “16-years old – broke up with first boyfriend.”
My mom has always assured me I’d survive the bumps and bruises life brings. Even today, she continues to walk alongside me and say, “I see what you’re going through, and it’s going to be okay.” At least once a month, my mom sends me a handwritten note in the mail. Sometimes these notes are long, but often they’re short. They have a few little updates and close with the same ideas: She’s praying for me, she’s excited about my future, and she loves me to the moon and back.
Today is my mom’s birthday. She started it the best way possible—with a cup of coffee and a good book. Of all the things my mom has taught me, the ability to consume coffee and books like oxygen is my favorite. Happy birthday, Mom! I’m praying for you, I’m excited about your future, and I love you to the moon and back.4