Mom died on February 21st. It wasn’t what I expected. Yes, we knew she was on hospice and expected to live 6 months. That was 15 months ago. Mom defied all expectations. She was a fighter. She was strong where others expected weakness. These facts aren’t what I want to write about today. I wanted to share the faithfulness of what God did as we entered her last 2 weeks on the earth.
A couple of weeks ago I shared my recognition that when our time on earth is over, the only thing that would have mattered, is the love we shared, the love we had for each other. That is the lasting and prevailing message we wanted to convey. When I wrote about this, it was still early in the transition of mom from life here on earth to life in heaven. It became even more emphasized as we recognized our time together was getting shorter.
Mom used every opportunity to say “I love you”. She couldn’t say much. Part of it because of her Alzheimer’s and part of it because of her weakness and lack of breath. When the words couldn’t come out verbally, she mouthed it. During this time, I took advantage and climbed into bed with her. I would snuggle with her, giving her kisses. She loved her kisses. She would kiss me back. Even when she was so weak, she would valiantly try to kiss me.
God did some special things for me during this hard time. I wanted to share a couple of them to encourage you. One of my greatest fears was to lose my parent. Death scared me. I wasn’t sure how I would handle it. When this time came, I discovered it wasn’t about me and what I could handle. It was a time to let my love propel me to do what was right. To take care of both my parents. I was focused on them and not myself. It became a time I will always treasure the sweetness of. That may seem an odd statement, the sweetness of her death. But there were treasures in those moments that will hold me and sustain me. Times I will always reflect on, remember and be grateful for.
It was truly an honor to serve my mom and my dad during this time. We don’t hear people talk about death much. It used to be common for people to be at their loved ones side when they died, the family would gather around. Often the person died in their home. Today everything is clinical and detached. Hospitals with their machines and sterile environment. People detach and don’t want to get too close. Many, too many people die alone today. What I observed was beautiful.
One day as I was snuggling with mom, I told her, “Mom you are going to heaven soon. You will see your mom, and dad. You will see Jesus. He loves you and will take good care of you.” She responded to me with, “Yes”. So I know she knew she was dying. Another day I noticed her eyes were focused on the corner of her room. Finally I said, “Mom, is there someone there?” I had to ask a couple of times. She said Yes. I watched her eyes follow this being as he moved from the corner to the base of her bed and then back again. I asked her is it a man or woman? She didn’t answer, instead she looked at me and reached up her hand and stroked my face. She hadn’t done that in years. It broke me. I fell on her crying. I know it was her angel or escort to take her to heaven. A couple of days later, I was praying by her side. My big prayer for mom all along is that she would die peaceful and not suffer. I have been struggling with my faith in many ways this year so I had a fleece for God. I asked him,”If you are who I think you are, if you are real, will you let mom die with her eyes closed?” I know many die with their eyes open and I just didn’t think I could handle that. The night she died, she was struggling to breath. Her mouth was open to get air. I was holding her hand and she was holding mine. I got tired and went to bed. It was after 1 in the morning. When my alarm went off at 5; my heart started to race. It was as though I knew before I walked into her room that she had died. When I got in there, the thing that struck me was the quiet peace that surrounded her. Her eyes were closed as well as her mouth. She looked beautiful and peaceful. She looked as thought she was napping. I will never forget the quiet peace that was with her. God answered my prayers.
God confirmed to me he is indeed faithful. He does exist, he does care about us. My fears were removed. God gave me the reassurance I needed when I needed it. I will look back on this time, as the time that God drew close and held me. He gave me the strength to go through one of my greatest fears. In the midst of it, he gave me grace and the honor to serve my parents. I have no regrets. I will miss my mom on this earth, but I look forward to the next time I see her, she will be whole, and laughing. We will have a wonderful time catching up on all that happened during our time apart.
We all have to go through this ending chapter in some manner. Ultimately we will all end our time on this earth and enter into eternity. If you, like me, harbor fears, I want to reassure you that God is able and willing to hold you, reassure you and give you the strength and peace to go forward. Hold on to God, he will hold on to you. Even when you can’t hold on, he will carry you over the finish line.