My momma has quite the singing voice.

She would never admit it because she is too humble for that.

Growing up, occasionally, she would break out a tune while doing house chores. I remember sitting careful in the background so she would not notice.

Her voice would dance about the air like a sunflower floating back and forth in a late summer breeze.

Amazing Grace,

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now am found

T’was blind but now I see

I loved when Momma would sing that song; it was my favorite. As a little girl, I knew the words so strongly that I’d sing over the entire congregation at church on the occasional Sunday when the pianist would choose that hymn.

When my aunt Brenda died—the first death I had ever experienced as a little girl—Momma held me in her arms on the top porch step of my grandparents’ house and whispered this song in my ear as I sat with my head in her lap. I remember wondering what it meant to be lost. Was Brenda lost but now she was found?

I’m not sure I understood the lyrics back then—and I was far, far from understanding the death I was mourning— but it somehow brought me peace to hear Momma sing the words softly as she stroked my hair.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear

And Grace, my fears relieved

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed

Shortly after my Aunt Trish died—still only a girl, but slightly older—I stood at her gravesite with Momma. She was arranging flowers perfectly around the stone as if the wind wouldn’t change it later. I stood behind and contemplated why we were doing this, and as I looked around the cemetery, I wondered even further why this was a thing. Do the dead appreciate these little tokens of remembrance?

Once the flowers were placed, Momma and I stood hand in hand and sang the lyrics we both knew by heart. We were confident in the voices that joined us from heaven that afternoon.

Through many dangers, toils and snares

We have already come.

T’was grace that brought us safe thus far

And grace will lead us home,

And grace will lead us home

One summer afternoon in a June sun, I spun around in circles in my front yard humming the hymn. The ruffles of my pink and yellow sundress flew about—careless like uncut wheat in a golden field. I could not have been a day over nine years. A bumble bee buzzed around, intrigued by my tune. The words wrapped around me tight like a Sherpa blanket on a cold Christmas Eve. My long, red braids smacked against my back with each turn.

I was free.

Amazing grace,

Howe Sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found

T’was blind but now I see

Was blind, but now I see.

Several years later as a conflicted teenager, the lyrics fell out of my lips into a cold winter fog. I sat alone on my grandparents’ porch mourning the loss of my grandfather. I ached for a sense of grace that would bring me closure. Closure I felt was stolen from me. All I could come up with was the song, still embedded in my head with Momma’s thick accent clung around it.

It was not until I sat alone in the pre-op room with my daughter still safe in my belly that I believe I truly embodied the lyrics of Momma’s song.

There I sat; they’d be rolling me in the operating room to deliver my sweet girl in about a half hour. I sat alone and stared at the creamy pink walls and generic watercolor paintings hanging about the room.

“Well, it is just me and you, kid,” I said aloud, rubbing my large, round belly. “Go time.”

And then I began with the lyrics that had always pushed me onward.

As I sang the words, I could hear Momma’s voice too, and for a minute, I was a little girl again.

And I knew, this too would be okay.

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