Friday, February 19, 2016

A Beautiful Farewell: Remembering the Last Week of My Mother's Life

These words were originally shared on Facebook two years ago today. I looked at today's date and realized this was the very day I packed a funeral dress in my suitcase and flew 1,100 miles to my mother's bedside.

Some of you know that I left San Antonio one week ago in the dark of early morning. After receiving a call that my mom (who has been in hospice care for advanced dementia and Parkinson's Plus) was terribly ill and unresponsive, I flew to Illinois in a wild rush in the hopes that I would have one more chance to squeeze the hand of the woman who raised me, who poured her life into mine. By God’s mercy, I was given that chance and so much more.

The past seven days have been nothing short of sacred, holy, and wrenchingly beautiful. My mom (and all of us) were given more than we could have ever imagined or hoped for in the gift of her restored clarity of mind and spirit for the last week of her life. Not only was I able to squeeze her hand, I was able to have numerous conversations with her in which she knew me fully. Her joyous persona, which none of us had seen for over four years, was back for one last party. Though none of us had left anything unsaid, we spent time telling her how much we loved her and one another and how good it was to be together. She joked with us in the wit that has kept us all in hearty laughter the whole of our lives. We talked about her soon to come journey to heaven and how jealous we were that she’d get there first. 
We sang to her, and read God’s Word over her, and laid in the bed next to her. We took her out of the residential home on Wednesday so that she could be in her own bed and enjoy the comforts of the house in which she lived for more than 46 years. Last night at 7:25pm, she left the party. While her beloved family encircled her she quietly took her last breath and headed straight into the arms of Jesus and to an out of this world party that has no end.

Though our hearts are shattered we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

To all who swooped in and loved on my girls and Dirk while I was away – I haven’t enough words to express my thanks. To be able to focus entirely on being a daughter rather than as a mother this week was glory divine. Never once were they out of my thoughts and heart though being away from them was piercingly painful. Yet my heart was peace-filled knowing that so many (in my stead) were scooting them off to school, practice, playdates, and treating them to special meals. I fear that in my return they will miss terribly all of the delicious food delivered hot to the table and find my company rather dull after all of the great fun each of you has treated them to.

To those who offered up prayers on behalf of my mom please know that they held power. They were felt palpably as the Lord of heaven and earth drew near to us. This was by far the most extraordinary week of my life. I fell in love with my mom, my siblings, and my dad all over again. I always knew I was blessed with a solid family but I’ve never been more humbled to be a part of it.