Saturday, September 18, 2004

One week ago at this moment I was at the hospital waiting for my mom to be air-lifted to a bigger and better hospital in St. Louis. I knew that she was having a heart attack. I did not know that she was dying. It took her 2.5 days to accomplish that feat. Chances are strong that she never really understood the gravity of her own situation. The last time we talked it was to share a bit of humor. Then she went to sleep. Ten hours later she was no more. Well, that isn't exactly true. She was available to me no more. To say that she was "dead" is not completely accurate. She was dead as far as this world is concerned. The part of her that I was accustomed to seeing had transformed itself into a piece of room tempreture clay. The heart that had been attacked would never beat again. Her lungs would never again hold oxygen. She immediately began the process of decay.

Still, I know that my mom lives. My faith in Jesus Christ is such that I really do not question Him. Nor do I question her trust in Him. And I believe that she is now, as I type, securely in His presence.

So why do I feel so sad? Why is there an empty place in my heart that I cannot seem to fill? For better than four years I was her care taker. I provided for her. I did not seek out her advice or her help. I am a grown, independent adult male. And yet ... I miss my mom. Is that silly? No, I mean really, is that silly? Why do I feel as though she was suppose to leave me directions on how to get through this? Wasn't she suppose to do that? If I had some sort of written directions, signed by her, about how to "get over it" maybe I could.

Instead I have to go and clean out her home one more time. I did it four years ago when my dad died. I thought that was enough. Nope. I have to sort through her belongings yet one more time. I have to decide what to keep and what to throw. And I really don't want to do that. If she is gone then why can't she just be GONE? Why do I have to keep picking up pieces of her? I do not mean to sound as though I am mad. I am just weary. It has been a terribly long year and she just put the icing on my cake.

And worst of all, it seems like everytime I pick up her stuff some of my own stuff breaks loose and falls apart. Ok, she squeezed me form her loins. She put me through diapers and listened to me scream while I was teething. Then there was school and dating and all of that adolescent stuff. I owe her. And, yes, I love her. Very much. That is exactly why it is so hard. And I just do not want it to be hard anymore.

I know that God called her home. I finished preplanning and prepaying her funeral the day before she had her heart attack. Her apartment lease is up two weeks from the date of her death. Two days after she died I decided to take her bedroom set as my own. I felt like that was maybe a wrong thing to do. That night my water bed sprung a leak. I drove my family 290 miles from our home to her grave site. We got stuck in morning rush hour traffic. Relatives delayed us when we stopped to let them follow us. We made two stops, one for gas and one for ... you know. We did not stop when we arrived in the town where she was being buried. We drove straight to the cemetary. I parked my van directly in front of her grave at 1:29PM. It was a one minute walk to her casket. The scheduled time for the mini-service was 1:30PM. What are the odds of that? It would seem that God has controlled this entire event. So it should not hurt. Right?

I guess my heart did not get the memo.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

It is not just a slogan. It is a truth. God IS good. ALL of the time.

This morning at about 10:30 my mother departed planet earth and stepped into the presence of God. She and I had talked many times over the past year and she made a point of telling me that she was so ready to go Home. Those were words I needed to hear but didn't really want to hear. You know what I mean? Parents are suppose to be supermen and superwomen. It turns out that at 49 years of age I finally discovered that they are not.

Mom had a heart attack on Saturday night. It was touch and go throughout the night but by yesterday afternoon it really looked like she would "rock on" to fight another day. A phone call from an ICU doctor dashed those thoughts and we stayed at her bedside until around 1 this morning. My last words to her was to promise to vote democratic if she would just go to sleep! She smiled, closed her eyes, and was snoring minutes later. (Mom told me a couple of years ago to just get over the fact that she was a "flaming liberal" and that I would never change her. She was right! But she still knew Jesus very, very well.)

I confess that my heart is a little tender right now. My emotions a little bruised. Pastor's, it seems, are not supermen either. But I know who is. Jesus is my superman. He is my hero. He answered my prayers and took my mom from decent health, through the valley of the shadow of death, and into His presence in a very brief amount of time. We were spared the agony of long illnesses and nursing homes. What a gift! It is because of my mom that I know Jesus. When I was just a kid she became a youth worker at our church just to make sure that we had a youth ministry for her kids to be in. And so, in a sense, she taught me how to be a youth pastor as well. Dont' get me wrong. She was far from perfect. We knew all about each others warts. But we loved each other anyway.

Jesus died specifically so that today would not hurt too much. And it is only because of Him that it doesn't. It isn't my faith. It isn't my church. It isn't my family. It isn't my brilliance. It is Jesus. Life is all about Him. Today is a perspective check for me. I have looked at life and death from this side of the curtain and I have found Him worthy. If you look hard enough you will too.

My mom wanted me to tell you.