So we’re doing fine. We really are doing fine. It’s a crazy thing when you realize that life does go on after a life-altering loss. We get up. We put one foot in front of the other. We get dressed and go about our regularly scheduled activities. We even smile and laugh!
We keep up with our commitments and do lots of things that we enjoy. We celebrate the joy in friends’ lives and in our own lives. There are still joyous events to celebrate.
People stop us a lot and ask how we’re doing and kind of give that look like they’re bracing themselves for me to cry. And sometimes I do cry. It’s funny that I can answer the same question and be totally straight faced with one person when I give an answer and dissolve into a puddle when I give the same answer to another person.
The day of Hudson’s class Christmas party, I was delivering his class treats to the school office and passed a friend who stopped me and hugged me and reminded me that she, too, had lost her parents at much too young an age. And a moment was shared that I’ll never ever forget. I know that our Heavenly Father uses others and their experiences and their grief to minister to me right now. None of them ever say it will get better. Almost all of them cry. And they all tell me that it’s absolutely okay to keep talking about my mom.
These kind friends, acquaintances, and sometimes complete strangers will take time to reach out to me to offer me words of comfort. And to take time to allow themselves to get back to a place of their own grief to grieve with me. And as Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians, we are each uniquely equipped to comfort someone. And I’ve been so blessed by the kindest people.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
The Holy Spirit was there in those moments. Comforting us. Holding us. Reminding us of His goodness and His love.
I was driving Hayes and James Walker home this morning and an unexpected wave of pain washed over me, I couldn’t catch my breath, and I immediately began to sob. What was it that I wanted to text her? What story from the Golden Globes did I want to tell her?
How is it that if I forget that she’s gone for 90 seconds, I experience grief again as if for the first time when I remember?
These moments happen a few times a week. And I am sure they’ll continue to happen.
I know that God gives us more than we can handle. He gives us the hard stuff because He wants us to trust Him to handle it. And that’s exactly what I’ve had to do. I have to fully trust that He is good, and loving, and merciful, and He also happens to be preparing a perfect place for us where we can meet Him face to face.
And I’m confident that when I get to heaven and I meet him, I won’t even want to know “why” my mom had to die so young from melanoma. Why she never got to hear her youngest grandson say her name. Why she never got to see my brother get married. I know that those things won’t matter to me because I’ll be so overwhelmed by the awesomeness of who He is. Can you even imagine?! I try to, but I know my imagination doesn’t even come close.
The night my mom died, my dad and I had been praying with her all day. We’d read letters to her, sung “He Touched Me” next to her in the bed, and squeezed her tiny little hands. (I pray, pray, pray that I never forget how those hands looked and felt.) My dad and I tried to manage her pain all day and she was mostly out of it all day after being in severe pain the previous day. The hospice nurse tried to prepare us and said she would probably pass away that day. We had texted our closest family and friends that she was probably within hours of dying.
Todd and my closest friends had all spread the word to begin to pray that the Lord would call her home. This life of suffering and pain had become too much and we just prayed that He’d call her home to heaven or heal her. We couldn’t bear to see her suffer any longer.
At about 9:30 p.m., my dad and I moved to my mom’s bedside as the rhythm of her breathing began to change. We prayed some more. We told her we loved her and we were proud of her. We promised her that Walker, Todd, and the little boys were all doing well. I promised her I’d take care of my Daddy. And at 10:10 p.m. she stopped breathing. We wept over her and cried and thanked our precious Jesus for the gift of having someone so incredible and fierce to be our person, our mom, my dad’s life partner. We missed her immediately!
A few minutes later, I picked up my phone and saw that at 9:30 p.m. I had been flooded with text messages from Todd and friends saying that they were all praying right then for God to end her suffering. They’d each been prompted to pray and to tell me they were praying. And in that moment and in that realization, I’ve never felt closer to God. Knowing that so many were praying the same thing and that our Father answered their prayer and that my mom was standing in His presence… is there anything more incredible, humbling, and bittersweet?
We have so many moments from that night. It was a long long night as we waited for hospice to arrive. When the hospice nurse got to my parents’ house, she introduced herself and I immediately recognized her name as the mother of a high school classmate of mine who was tragically murdered a few years ago.
We were able to talk about him and she cried as she spoke about her son that she misses so much. She was with us for about three hours, and when she hugged us goodbye she said that she’d been comforted that night just to be able to spend time with someone who knew her son.
Jesus doesn’t miss an opportunity. We just have to ask for those opportunities, and I know that now. In my grief and anguish over my mother, I was still able to provide comfort for this mother. And it’s the same for me as sweet friends reach out to check on me and pray for me and send me encouragement. They’re each such a comfort to me.
I keep saying this, but I’m just completely overwhelmed with gratitude and the realization of God’s love for us. He wanted my mom with Him even more than we want her here with us. It’s hard to sit in grief and sadness for too long when we realize the fullness of His grace. The God of all comfort loves us so much.