- Kerstin Lindquist
Two Years After She Left.
“Grammy would have loved it here.” I said to my kids as we were rounding the mountainous curve that took us up from the coast into the valley of La Misión.
“Why,” All three kids ask, almost in unison. Yet, all in varying degrees of either annoyance or intrigue.
“She loooved to give and help.” I reply, “She also loved the beach.” I add, looking back over my shoulder at the last glimpse of the Pacific Ocean before we descend into the valley.
“She taught me this.” I continue, starting to tear up. “She gave me all my Jesus.”
“Mom don’t start crying.” Georgia sighs from the back seat.
“Well, it’s true,” I say, wiping a tear. “I wouldn’t be such a strong Christian, and we wouldn’t be missionaries, if it weren’t for her, this is all her.” I conclude, unsure if this makes the kids grateful or annoyed. Especially with the teenagers, their views on being missionary children change with the weather.
“I really miss Grammy.” Ben squeaks out, on the verge of tears now himself. I’ve found him mentioning her more often while in Mexico. Each time He talks about her it is achingly bittersweet. I love how much he loves her and how his memories of her are so positive. She was sliding deep into dementia when he was born, yet he loved her childlike attention and felt her fierce love in the four years he had her, even without her ability to tell him.
Every mention of her is still a knife in my heart. It’s unfair. She should have had the chance to be his grandmother. She would have been the best, even though to him, she already was.
“Absolutely not, Ben don’t cry.” Grace rolls her eyes from the cramped car seat next to him.
“It’s okay, guys come on. I still cry, let him be.” I softly scold. Attempting to hold my own grief at bay.
What really takes my breath away is that we’re both experiencing her.
My mom is everywhere in Mexico.
She seems to show up for me around every rocky turn, in the views of the Pacific Ocean, in the tiny tiendas I walk into. The door opens, and the smell of fresh tortillas and my mother grabs me with a weight that threatens to pull me to the dark concrete ground. And to be clear, Kathy Lindquist never made tortillas.
I didn't spend a lot of time with my mother in Mexico, in fact I don’t even really remember travelling south with her more than once or twice. We spent a weekend in Puerto Vallarta together planning my wedding, and as a child she took me to Mexico City on a business trip.
The last time we came here together was before we moved back east. Dan and I and the girls spent much of the summer before I took the job at QVC traveling back and forth to Ensenada. It’s how we learned of Siloé. Mom came down to visit us for a weekend. I have this beautiful picture of her walking the rocky dirt path between our rental and the beach below holding the hand of a then one-year-old Georgia on her left and a two-year-old Grace on her right. Her white capris and blue striped button down billowing slightly in the breeze. Her smile reaching nearly to her ears, her eyes so full of her. A beautiful moment. Yet, just minutes later she fell. It was the first time this happened. She was sixty-three. Just a few years later that life in her eyes would begin to drain, well before she took her last breath.
Now, as I’m back here without her, I’m feeling how connected she was to Mexico. Every few days I drive by Las Gaviotas and time seems to go in slow motion. It’s a place where she rented a home dozens of times with my step-father and little brother after I had left for college.
And before she had kids, she used to travel with my dad to San Felipe to race their Hobbie Cat. She was never afraid of Baja, she loved it like we do. She was fearless in her travels as she was in most parts of her life.
Though perhaps not in love. In love she was scared. The loss of someone’s love was something she couldn’t bear. Maybe that’s why it is something I feel so deep.
But she would be fearless for those she loved. She once smuggled a puppy across the border sitting passenger to my aunt who was driving the car alternating between hysterical laughing and petrified pleas that she not get them both thrown in jail in Tijuana. She had this heart for animals, children, and those in need.
That’s why I believe she is everywhere here. She would have loved this. Kathy Lindquist couldn’t pass a person in pain without giving them money or help of some kind. Even after dementia had already spun it’s sickening web around her brilliant brain, she would wordlessly hand me a twenty-dollar bill to put in someone’s pocket at church. We’re not even talking about the offering plate; she had a way of knowing when someone needed help.
We're here in Mexico doing the work she taught me to do.
Work she even wordlessly showed to my toddler son before she died.
She is so wrapped up in our Holy Spirit that both me and her grandson recognize her in the kindness we're giving.
What a legacy she has left.
I’ve never gave much weight to loved ones "visiting" us from heaven. My mom doesn’t come to me in dreams or in cardinals or orbs. That’s all very sweet and comforting for so many, and maybe I’m a little bitter because she isn’t talking to me in my dreams or whispering in my ear, but what does give me comfort is knowing without a shred of doubt that she is in Heaven at the right hand of my Lord. We will be together again because I am a devoted child of God. I know she is with us and so freaking proud.
But here in Mexico, there are these peeks of her that seem uncanny…
“Grab a jacket!!! Any jacket!” I yelled from the car urging my kids to get out of the house. You would think after three years of planning and a month of packing we would have everything set for our trip to Mexico.
“Fine, fine, were here.” Grace moans as she slides into the car.
“You have jackets? It’s cold overnight.” I remind them.
“Yep.” My darling daughters say in unison.
After that rushed exchange on the way to the Philadelphia airport in the dark cold of January, I’d come to discover Grace had grabbed a coat of mine, an old packable puffer that was one of the last things my mother ever bought me before she lost the ability to talk let alone shop. And Georgia grabbed a black and pink North Face fleece that I kept from my mother’s
It doesn’t stop there.
Grace had packed Grammys lifeguard hoodie. My mom had purchased the bright red when we went to visit her in California before she moved back east to be closer as her disease progressed. Grace kept it after she passed. Now in our rental home with our minimal articles of clothing, three pieces of my mother hang on hooks in the hallway.
Her song, the one that was meaningful to her and my dad over fifty years ago, is constantly on the radio in Mexico. We get one english station, and it plays the same four songs nearly on repeat. “Our House” always comes on the radio as I’m getting in the car. A song I probably only heard a half dozen times in my entire life; I now hear multiple times a day.
She’s is all around us, and to be honest, it hurts.
I wish I could say it’s so comforting and makes me smile, but it still freaking hurts. That’s the thing with grief, it really never goes away. And I wish I could be an expert on this subject after two years without her, but I’ve got nothing for you. I don’t know when this pain will go away or if it ever will.
But I can see how important it is to keep going through that pain, to not give into the paralysis I felt when she died.
Two years after one of the most horrific months of my life, watching her die, her daughter and son in law and grandkids lives are being changed, indirectly, because of her. Her teaching is infecting every generation of Lindquist lineage to come. Her infusion of Jesus into her daughter is impacting hundreds of people though our work at the clinic and tens of thousands of people as they watch and hear about Jesus on social media.
She did this. She is why we’re here, so of course we would feel her. Because she is in this place. Maybe this is where she told God she wanted to hang out for the winter, her corner of heaven. Days helping others and nights by the beach surrounded by her grandkids and her daughter; the now grown child that she gave the best parts of her.
And yes, she would have loved this.