Sherri Gragg

Juggler of words and children…collector of pottery shards

Ozella

For all the moms who have lost and need to know they never walk alone.

 

Ozella

My grandmother, Mama Ruby, was effervescent. She has long been with Jesus now, but for me she is frozen in time, her face beaming in laughter and her eyes twinkling with mischief.

 

I remember sitting with her and my Papa at the dining room table as they fell into hysterics, both of them laughing until they struggled for breath and tears streamed down their faces.

 

Mama Ruby had an extensive collection of high heels- snakeskin, flashy patterns, and sequins. When she developed foot ailments late in life, she simply sliced slits in the sides of the shoes to provide a little comfort rather than opting for something more sensible.

 

Mama Ruby loved life and lived it to the fullest, sprinkled with laughter and dripping with joy.

 

And yet every time she saw my oldest daughter, her face clouded with grief and her eyes filled with tears.

 

“She looks just like poor little Ozella…” she would whisper as she pulled my baby girl to her chest.

 

Ozella.  Blonde, blue-eyed, baby girl.  Ozella. Precious, first born daughter. Ozella who left much too soon.

 

And when she did, she tore a hole in my grandmother’s world which she would survive, but never fully mend.

 

One day, six-year-old Ozella fell ill with a fever. My grandparents rushed her to the doctor but by the next evening, their little girl was gone.

 

They laid her to rest but there would be no respite for my grandmother, for grief is a terrible burden to bear. As author Emily Rapp said in her poignant memoir, The Still Point of the Turning World, “Grief weighs nothing, but you still have to drag it around.”

 

My grandmother descended into a grief so catastrophic that it threatened to sever her mind and her heart from the life that remained. Even after she emerged from those darkest days, weeks and months of mourning, she found that grief stalked her with ferocious, relentless cruelty. Each year, on the anniversary of her daughter’s death, she would open a box containing her clothes, hold them to her face and chest and weep until she could weep no more.

 

A lifetime later, this woman who drank the joy of life to its dregs would find herself in tears each time she saw her great granddaughter who had inherited the exact genetic makeup to render her the spitting image of her long deceased great aunt.

 

Mother love runs deep, fierce, and strong. It suffers long, forgives much, and holds fast. No power on earth can temper it- not even the terror of the grave.

 

Author Kenneth Bailey points out that just as Jesus’ life on this earth ended in brutality and grief, so did it begin. The one scene of the Advent story that is almost always omitted from our corporate worship during the Christmas season is the account of King Herod’s slaughter of the infants in Bethlehem.

 

Though we may shy away from this scene of terror and grief, feeling somehow that it doesn’t fit into our candlelit worship services proclaiming the Savior’s birth, God seems to disagree. He captures the horror and the grief for us in the haunting sound of a mother’s cry.

 

“A voice was heard in Ramah,

Weeping and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

she refused to be comforted,

because they are no more.”

Matthew 2:18 esv

 

The inclusion of these mothers’ heartrending mourning in the Advent story is a powerful reminder that God is not far from us in our grief. It matters intimately to Him. Our aching cry draws the Father near to us.

Jesus chose not only to save us, but to humble Himself to walk among the carnage of this fallen Earth.

To offer Himself in vulnerability to its brutality.

To taste our suffering.

To share our grief.

This world may require us to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but because He came, we will never ever walk alone.

 

 

Savior,

I am so thankful for Your tenderness toward us, drawing near to us when our hearts are broken. Today mothers throughout the world still cry out in their grief, still refuse to be comforted, because their children are no more.

 

Be ever near to them Gentle Savior. Comfort them in these dark hours. Send Your servants, armed with compassion, to love them well, and grieve with them in their unspeakable loss.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Amen

 

 

 

“A voice was heard in Ramah,

weeping and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

she refused to be comforted,

because are no more.”

Matthew 2:18 

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One comment on “Ozella

  1. marcy10
    May 14, 2017

    Thank you, Sherri for such a beautiful tribute.

    Sent from my iPhone Marcy Brent PO Box 40 Thaxton, MS. 38871

    >

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This entry was posted on May 14, 2017 by in children, Moms, Mother's Day, motherhood, mothering, Uncategorized and tagged .
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