Hey Mom, it’s one snowy Valentine’s Day around here. Crisp, clear, and sunny. It’s a good day to lay around like an old yard dog and do a whole lot of nothing. That’s what Briley is doing right now, perched like a princess beside me. I really miss you, Mom. I’ve lost count of the number of times I started to pick up the phone only to realize Verizon doesn’t go to Heaven.

It’s been a terribly difficult year. A pandemic. Racial unrest. Political insurrection. You died two days after your birthday. I’m glad you were able to enjoy that vanilla milkshake that day and that you didn’t suffer undue hardship. Your passing was much harder for us than for you, I suspect. Suddenly. Complications for COVID. I’m grateful I got to pray with you before you breathed your last. I thank God that both you and dad held onto faith until the end and I am confident that you are in a peaceful place even better than your Kentucky homeland. It’s a family reunion where everyone is family no matter the color of their skin, the language they speak, their background, education, or experience. I picture you walking along a flowing stream, some even on it just for the fun of it. Green valleys. Snow-capped mountaintops. A new Creation, heaven and earth, where all that is good and kind and loving celebrates the glory of the One who makes and remakes and gives us all we need for abundance life now and always.

My audiobook is complete and we launch it this week on Ash Wednesday (February 17). I’m sad I couldn’t sit down and listen to it with you, but I trust you know even better than I do what I say and what went unsaid. Mom, you brought me life and first stuck a pencil in my hand to write my name. You encouraged me when I wanted to write stories or poems or baseball stats. You listened as I recited my “Ode to My Pet Rock,” and collected all the writings I would share with you, even when I didn’t present you in a favorable light. You held on in the hope that God would put what I wrote to good use not for your glory but for his.

As I remember you today, I am rejoicing in the promise of Revelation 21:4 —

[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

God only knows how much pain you suffer for the 77 years of your life. Yet we know through faith that the years of abundant pleasure, joy, and laughter ahead will have no end.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom!