How many times have you wished for a do-over? I mean, like some season or experience in your life where you’d like to replay the video and tweak the story line?
If I could get a do-over with anything, it would be the last few years I spent with my mother. Between her decline and the circus that was my life at the time—let’s just say it was not our finest hour.
But then, honestly, I hear lots of women admit that no matter how faithfully—or unfaithfully—they followed their mother to the end of the road, they wish they could have done more. Been more. Loved better. In our rational moments, which may be seldom and few on this topic, we know ten daughters would not have been enough to stare down death.
One of the surprising elements of redemption, I think, is the way God opens up “second chances” when you never expected to get any. Mine has come in the form of my mother’s lifelong friend, Ricky.
Every couple of weeks I call her. Ricky is 92 now, and quite alert, still living in the same small town in Virginia where we all grew up. My mother and Ricky began as two newly-married 24 year-old women. And Ricky was the last person mother talked to on the phone the day before she died at 87.
Nobody has friendships like that anymore.
Anyway, I call Ricky and it’s like time plays backwards when we hear each other’s voice. She’s 42 and still playing tennis. Her husband, Charlie, will walk up their steep driveway after filling the cavities of his last dental patient. His hunting dogs howl to be fed. And I am the girl-next-door, listening to Stand by Me on the radio, while I stare in the bathroom mirror and try for the hundredth time to get the bane of my existence—my curly hair—to stay straight.
We hear the other person’s voice, Ricky and I, and we are there.
We are each other’s connection to whole eras of mutual history. When I complain about my recurring stomach problems, she knows the whole epic saga. If I say I’ve had an Aunt-Maude-moment that day—no further explanation is needed. She actually knew Aunt Maude.
For a few minutes on the phone, we enter the original story together and fill in the crevices of each other’s losses.
The other day I caught my granddaughter, Molly, staring in her mirror, fretting over her hair. She turned to me with eyes that pled for reassurance. My hair won’t turn out to be as curly as yours, do you think?
Probably not, I reply. I don’t know how to break the news to her. She could get the curly hair—and the minimalist chest. Some things are best left unsaid. I wish I could hear my mother laugh at the irony of having a granddaughter scared spitless that she might inherit this hair. But I love that I still get to tell Ricky and she knows. She knows.
What I’m trying to say is that whatever there is in your life that makes you cringe to recall, it is never the end of the story. Never.
There was a cranky old prophet once, a man who knew more than his share of trouble. His words are the ones I paste on the mirror of my mind. He claimed that mercy starts all over again brand spanking new each morning, and redemption shows up in strange places, not because you are special or even particularly deserving, but for the simple, strong reason that you can’t get to the end of the love of God.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.
Lamentations 3: 23
Jeremiah claims that God’s mercy is actually more real than your failures. I hear Ricky’s voice on the phone, and I remember that this is true.