Where do I even begin? Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my Mom’s loss to pancreatic cancer. Each day marking some new “first” that she couldn’t be there to share with us. How do I go about explaining grief? Living each day remember what now makes you feel incomplete inside. Wishing you could turn back the proverbial hands of time to recapture every hug, smile, and “I love you”. In a way, today is no different than the last 365- I still feel pain, but know that she no longer has to.
This year has brought many people to my mind and prayers. My Mom’s Dad, who wondered why he had to outlive his youngest child; her sister, who called her every year on Mother’s Day to remember their beloved mother-who passed when I was just a baby; her older brothers, who she looked up to so much; her friends, who wrote her, called her, and visited with her throughout the year and a half that she fought this battle. I also think of my siblings, who are all dealing with this grief differently. Lastly, I think of my Dad, who hasn’t known life without my mom since he was 19 years old. I know these people hurt, just as I do, and I’m thankful for their influence in making my Mom such an inspiration in my own life.
I tossed and turned in bed last night recounting this time last year. Every member of my family camped out in the small living quarters we affectionately called “the fune”. We were each on 2 hour rotations to coax mom into taking morphine. Although it was awful to watch her degenerate, I think God planned out the timing perfectly. We were each given alone time with her to say our goodbye’s. Although many would say she was too far gone to understand, I knew she could feel my touch and hear my voice. I still remember holding her beautiful hand and memorizing her soft skin and each detail of her features. As days passed, we were all praying that God would take her and free her from the pain she was feeling. When the time came, it was almost as if a burden was lifted. She was with Jesus-her whole life’s journey was complete in just one moment.
Yes, it is clear that I mourn. I still pick up the phone to talk to her, and then remember she’s not there. I still wonder what future events will bring without her presence. And I still have moments of weakness when I question God for taking her from me. All that aside, I know one thing to be true: God does not make mistakes. As a Christian, I need to daily take in this powerful verse:
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” 1 Thes. 4: 13-14
We have hope of a new life. I’m thankful my Mom no longer suffers! I’m thankful that she reached so many people during her life-most of all when she was ill. She will forever be that example in my mind of Christ-likeness. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother, and I will live my life remembering her-but also remembering that we have the hope of heaven.
In closing, I’d like to offer you a valuable piece of my mother to hang on to, just as I have. Mom knew God was going to take her home early on in her illness. She prepared a journal for my dad, each of us kids, and one she wrote from a personal perspective: 6 in total. I have decided to share a couple of excerpts to bring joy to her friends and family-just as they have brought me joy.
In her personal journal she writes,
8/29/09 “Lord, I pray that I will have the strength for Marlon when he is down-give me the words to say. I love him so dearly. Lord, whatever I face, my prayer is that you continually be seen in me. May others see grace and calmness in the face of tribulation”
This entry was to my Dad:
I do feel sadness for many things:
-Will I live to see more grandchildren other than Lucas? To answer all the questions about pregnancy that Amber and eventually Adrienne will have?
-Sadness over perhaps not being around to help Adrienne plan her wedding-this is a very hard thought for me and tears drip off my chin as I write.
-Sadness over who will hold and comfort you (Marlon) in times of loneliness and sadness?
-Who will iron your shirts?
-sadness over the thought of you eating alone in restaurants.
-knowing from personal experience the heavy, crushing weight of losing a parents and knowing that I can’t be here to make is better for my kids.
-sadness over the possibility of not partnering with you in ministry.
Her personal journal:
11/9/09 This week has been a bit of a struggle. Satan has attacked both Marlon and I physically and mentally. It’s difficult going through a sickness that has the ultimate end of death. It’s so hard to share our feeling of lost hopes and dreams-only hard in the fact that it brings us sadness. It’s not difficult to share and talk together-just difficult know that in the not so far-off future, Marlon will not have me here physically to share with. We are taking this time to cherish one another, fall in love again every day and count our many blessings. “God, give us the strength and purpose we need for each and every day. Please be with our children and family as well. Lord, We need you.”