Because we loved, there will be tears.
Because we laughed, there will be memories.
Because we lived, there will still be joy.
It’s been 15 days since I sat by your bedside. I played worship music as we sat together in that hospital room during your final hours and the memories of our life together passed through my mind. I made sure to skip all the songs you didn’t like so much. I held your hand as you took your final breaths on earth and entered Heaven’s gates, and then I cried. I cried tears of happiness, because you are finally free of pain and sickness after such a long courageous battle. I cried for me because there is nothing in this world that can fill the emptiness I feel now that you’ve left.
The days keep coming, and they go. It’s hard to believe that time can still pass. The sun still rises and sets, and time keeps moving forward even though someone, whose presence in my life cannot even be summed up adequately in words, is no longer here with me. Mom, we were so blessed to have you for as long as God allowed you to be with us. I am forever thankful that it was as long as He did because we knew the initial prognosis did not promise us long at all.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
That verse has been repeated for centuries as comfort to those who are grieving. I was never really sure what it meant, until I started to think of it over the last few weeks. I always understood “blessed” to mean that life is good and we are happy.
Mom, you taught me that blessed doesn’t have to mean that we are happy or that life is perfect – it can mean that we choose to receive blessings in spite of our circumstances because we draw close to the one who blesses us most – God. We are blessed not because of our circumstances but because of who we have with us in those circumstances.
I am so blessed because God hand-picked you to be my Mom, through the blessing of adoption. I am blessed when I have friends who give up their time to spend with me as I grieve. I am blessed when I have a family who loves me through every trial I face. I am blessed when I can stand on just my faith alone and know that God is present and involved in my life, even if my life doesn’t make complete sense to me.
Mom, you taught me how to live and I am so thankful for the life that we shared. I know now that you taught me these lessons while you were alive so I could live them after you were gone. In your final days, you also taught me how to die – with dignity and strength, surrounded by love and standing in complete faith that God is in control. He loves us even if the circumstances look different than we hoped.
Mom, you never wavered on your love or your faith. It is now my challenge, and my prayer, that I will take the lessons you taught me and do the same.
C.S. Lewis, at the end of the Narnia books, which my mom loved so much, describes the characters as they enter heaven..
“The things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all stories, and we can truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” – The Last Battle – Chronicles of Narnia
The legacy that my mom leaves behind is an incredible one. She was a friend to many, because she chose to be a friend. She had courage to face a terminal illness and unpredictable future because she trusted in her Lord. She showed kindness to everyone she met – never once meeting a stranger… but most of all, she chose to live a life truly blessed, beyond circumstances. Now, we rejoice for her because she has only begun the greatest adventure, an eternal life with our Lord.
If there is one set of verses that sums up my Mom, it would be these that Dad read at her memorial:
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
2nd Tim 4:6-8