For those who have followed this blog you have read various posts relating to many cherished family memories, as well as some challenging family moments. On April 24, 2013, my mom passed away. The writer in me has been struggling to find the words – and trying not to post my grief on Facebook (too much).
They say that grief is a process. It has stages. I am sure that many have written books and journals on the process, analyzing it down to what may be believed to be a precise process. What I know to be true is that grief does not form itself into a specific, set-in-stone pattern. The loss of my mother has knocked me sideways, upside down, thrown me down, and picked me back up, only to go through it all again.
For me, right now, the key is allowing the emotions to come to the surface. Acknowledging the sadness, the loss, as well as the good memories that arise as you move through it all is an opportunity to let go of the pain. Note: ‘…to let go of the pain (not the person).’
So here we go…
Our childhood was steeped in the Lutheran community of our hometown in Minnesota. We lived a half a block away from the church and both of our parents were involved in many aspects – from Sunday school to vacation bible school, pancake breakfasts to Lenten suppers, ushering at services to bible studies and altar guild. Like making a perfect pot of tea we were soaked in it like precious tea leaves.
Despite all of that – once I left home (and even before) religion seemed like a lot of pomp and circumstance and not much substance. Admittedly, I leaned quite far away from my faith for many, many years. Heck, I even married (& divorced) a ‘self-professed Atheist’ for heaven’s sake!
And then, after all mom had been through since the cardiac arrest – she was diagnosed with Stage IV Liver Cancer with approximately 4 months to live. She received the news on Good Friday of all days. Shortly thereafter mom began receiving a drug treatment to extend her life a bit longer, then Dad called to tell us she was in the hospital again. Without asking, his voice was enough to urge us home.
Doctor G. told us that he didn’t recommend another treatment.
Pastors prayed with us.
And mom asked, “Is this a test? Is God testing me?”
As I heard her ask the question I realized that this truly was not a test of her deep and abiding faith. What I saw in action was that God was with her as she moved through this painful ending.
Life unfolds according to our choices, and God walks through all of it with us – if we let him.
In hindsight, it came together quite logically. Family and her dear friends gathered by her side. The Nurses listened and worked to ease her pain. The pastors from the church visited, prayed and offered support. Her grandson arranged a Skype chat with her son who was overseas. The son (J) who visited rarely called to say he was on the way. We were all certain Mom’s eternal Hope would prevail.
And as much as mom always wrapped her children in absolute, unconditional love – God did the same for her.
Mom and Dad had a great visit with J. when he arrived. All of her children had visited in person or by Skype. That evening God wrapped her in his love and took her home.
At the funeral Pastor D quoted John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. That whomever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.’ It was the one scripture I memorized as a child, only now does its true meaning reveal itself. I feel that if my parents had not instilled their Faith in us when we were children, that today my heart would be eternally broken.
Through this faith I know, and believe, that mom lives on enjoying gardens that she had never imagined would ever exist, and that the skies have one more bright, shining star watching over us. Perhaps most importantly, I know that she is with me (& our family) everyday.
Grateful for my amazing mom. Grateful for this life lesson.