Monday, January 24, 2011

My Mother, A Story of Getting to the Other Side

There was a lightning storm the night she went to be with Jesus. The day had been sunny and bright. The pool was used, and the laughter that day from outside was wonderful. Inside I was tired. I was tired a lot in those days. Everyone was outside and I got the baby down for a nap. I took a quick peek into her room and saw her sleeping. I went and laid down on the couch for a nap. The baby asleep in the play pen. I heard the sliding glass door open and someone come in. Then, I felt the hand on my arm to wake me. Then I looked into the sad eyes and knew that rest would not come for a long time.
Phone calls were made and the children sent home with grandma. A meal was brought to the house. I didn’t need to be convinced to eat, for food was my comfort. Eating was easy; the rest was hard. My uncle came, my husband tried to comfort me while feeling helpless at the same time. Her best friend came and the night wore on. There is nothing you can do, go on home I said to my uncle. I am fine just get some sleep I said to my husband. One look at the best friend told me she wasn’t moving. I on one side and her on the other, we kept our vigil. And the night wore on. I have always been afraid of storms. Yet on this night I couldn’t keep from looking out the window at the head of the bed where the lightning show played outside. She never awakened. The war was going on inside. One look would tell you that she was standing firm and was losing her battle. She wasn’t ready to go. She wasn’t going to go, yet there she was… going.
I spent my time praying. Talking to her and telling her what I thought she needed to hear.
I don't know if she heard any of my words: She had done her job. I would be OK. My husband and our children would be there for me. My mother-in-law had promised her she would take care of me. It’s OK to go, she would be better. The pain would end. The suffering would end. I love you mom. It will be OK, God will make it OK.
I’m not sure how I knew, other than the overwhelming sense of presence. I knew it was time. Take her hand I told her friend. She looked at me questioningly. It’s time I said. She’s leaving. I believe He stood at the end of the bed, I looked but felt more than I saw. Then she seemed to get up and walk from her body and into His arms and take her leave. She was gone… forever. I went upstairs and told my husband she was gone. The nurse was called and when she came, she instructed that I be taken from the room. I didn’t want to see what would happen next.
My house which had been full of people coming and going would fill up only a couple more times. Then this journey that had begun the summer before would be coming to an end. The diagnosis of Lung Cancer was horrible to hear, but it had already spread and is in her brain too. They only gave her six to eight months. I hope to give her a good season the doctor said. Had it really been almost a full year?
She is to wear white because angels wear white, and that is what she is now I said. I wore a yellow sweater. It was her favorite color. After the funeral, I walked into her room and collapsed. Surrounded by funeral flowers, I wept. That was the beginning of the darkness. The darkness would embrace me into it’s folds and hold me tight for quite some time. I would go through the motions of living without every really living. I would be numb. I would refuse to feel. There would be days when I would sit and not do anything at all. I wouldn’t get dressed; I wouldn’t clean; I wouldn’t shower. I would only exist. In that existence, I spent my time blaming myself, God, and the doctors for her death. It seemed all had been incompetent--unable to do what I thought to be a simple her. Mostly, I blamed myself.
The accusing voices rang in my ears telling me what I felt I already knew to be truth: I had done this; I had given up; I had let her die! It had been my job alone to save her, and I had failed. She had asked me only to fight and not give up. What had I done? I had failed, always failing.
Instead of holding onto the God who had come to take her home and make her well again, the One who had given me peace that night that He was here, I ran away from Him and hid. Again, the accusing voices rang, "Unworthy. Helpless. Worthless." Having this overwhelming sense of failure, I honestly felt that I didn’t belong in His arms and was deserving of the hell I had place upon myself willingly.
It would be at least two years before the sun would shine again. If you were to ask my mother-in-law about that time in my life, she would tell you she thought they had lost me too. I believe they did for awhile. Only through God’s grace did I make my way back. Only God could save me and take the burden from me. At this point, I can’t remember how He pulled me out of it and brought me out. I do know that I did slip back in briefly one other time since. He saved me and pulled me out that time too. I know now that the only way I can get through this life is to hold onto Him with all my might and not let go. God loves me, and if I fall, He will pick me back up again.
I have often wondered what the lesson I was to learn was. I’m still not finished learning the lessons from that painful journey. I do know that we learn through our experiences and perhaps someone else can learn from mine. Perhaps as an example of how "Not to Get Through a Tragedy". Nevertheless, I’ve grown. Not all the way to where I’m intended to go, as I fight daily with my fears. It's only now, almost seven years later, I am able to live in my house without sadness. I know He has a plan, and I’m happy to be along for the ride--even on the bumpy roads.

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