When a loved one dies...I have had quite a few loved members of my family pass on in my lifetime...so the experience of grief is not new. Yet with each one, depending on the person's role in my life, their age, the expectancy of their death, etc...the way I have experienced loss has been very different.
My Mom, who was and is still very dear to me, went to be with The Lord on April 14. I have so many mixed emotions involving her death. During the past year and a half, it has been beyond difficult, the waiting day to day, the worry from being so far away. I spent a lot of time just pleading with God to give me the "right" time to go and see her. My main concern was that she did not die alone, and that she would know the important role she had in my life. Yet I was afraid to say anything to her that might lead her to feel an obligation to stay...so any words I said had a finality to them and were absent of my impending loss or emptiness. I arrived on Mom's birthday and spent three days just visiting. When she would say that the doctors told her she only had a few days left, my answer was, well, Mom, only The Lord knows how many days you have left. And by the third time she told me this, as she was lying in her bed at night, and I answered the same way, she said in her weak but resolved voice, "That is right. And I may just surprise everyone...I may just continue to live; God may heal me...and then everyone would know the power of The Lord." That's the spirit, Mom...and I hope to always remember her words of faith on her last night on Earth.
Well, The Lord answered all my prayers. I was right by my Mom's bedside the day she died, holding her hand, getting her ice chips, moving her from side to side for her to be comfortable...bringing her coffee in bed as she missed her morning cup that day. Even after we knew she was comatose...I kept holding her hand and whispering words of assurance and scripture when it came to mind, or part of a hymn. It struck me that being with someone when they are dying is a lot like being with someone when they are giving birth...only the rebirth is to a heavenly realm and not an earthly one. There was no special sign when Mom left us, no eyes opening or talk of angels, but I knew they were all around us because of the peace and joy I felt.
The night before, I had laid in the bed next to her for a little while to just be with her and talk. The hospice nurse had told me the day before that she was glad I was there and urged me to say my "last words." I looked at her and smiled and said, "I already have. I tell her every time I am with her and she knows how much I love her." Yet that last night, we just talked of little things...nothing of huge significance...but at the end of our conversation, I felt compelled to say, "Mom, I am so blessed to have you to talk to my whole life." And she answered that she was so blessed to have me to talk to...and I realize now that is what I will be missing most. Knowing where she is has brought me so much comfort, and knowing how God remembered my prayers and allowed me to be with her spoke to me of His great care and concern.
I have heard people say, life goes on...in response to a loved one dying. I always thought that was an unkind thing to say...for the person that is still here...life does go on, yes. But it is not the same. I wrote a tribute to my Mom that my husband read at her Memorial which we held for a small group of family, friends and hospice workers at their home. I'll be sharing that in my next entry.
Thank you for sharing with me in my joy and my sorrow.