Sunday, April 6, 2014

On Losing My Mom

As I write this today, my 67 year young mother is lying in a bed in her home in New York, slowly fading away.  She has been in hospice care for all of two weeks now, but is already in the final stages of dying.  I sit here in Florida, one thousand miles away, waiting and dreading the phone call that will inevitably come to let me know she is gone.  I am told by hospice that it can be any time now. My heart is heavy with the weight of that reality.  I am losing my mom.

The funny thing is (not that there is anything particularly funny in a situation like this) that I thought this would be much easier.  I know that must sound crazy, but in all honesty, I had always imagined that when this time came, it would not be too hard for me.  Now don't get me wrong, I love my mom, and always have.  It's just that I have always been so independent of both of my parents, from the time I was very young, that I thought their loss wouldn't change much for me.  I would continue on, sad that they are no longer here on this earth, but my life would not be deeply impacted.

Well, I was completely wrong, and I guess it has taken this process of watching my mom fade away to make me realize that.  I am devastated to lose my mom. My heart physically aches each day as we walk through this.  My life is already deeply impacted by her loss.  She is not gone completely yet, but it has been several weeks now that because of severe dementia that I have not been able to have a conversation with her, to talk to her and connect with her like we always have done.  So I am already grieving her loss.

I am grateful, however, for the time just over a week ago that I had with her.  I thank God so much for making that possible.  My family and I were able to be in New York for about a week to spend time with her, and ultimately to say our goodbyes.  I am grateful for the "conversations" we had, even though from her side of it they didn't make much sense, but we talked to each other.  I am grateful for the songs we sang together.  Yes, one day we sang.  We sang "Joy to the World" and "Not By Might, Not By Power, But By My Spirit Says the Lord", one of her all time favorite songs.  Now her words didn't exactly match mine or the words of the song, but she sang her heart out for just those few moments.  I am grateful that there was one really, really good day when she completely recognized me and even introduced me as her middle daughter.  That was some real, specific detail for her at that point.  It was awesome!  I am even grateful that when she referred to my brother, Christopher, as her "favorite son," and I asked her who her favorite daughter was, she readily said the name of my sister, Jennifer!  That's okay, I know it was the dementia talking.  But I am grateful that she knew who we all were, and she was loving us.

I am grateful that my kids got to see their Grandma while she was still alive and mostly alert, and that she recognized each of them and got to speak to them.  And I am grateful for my husband getting to tell her that he loved her and that he promised to take care of me and her grandkids when she was gone.  There is so much to be grateful for.  Even as the week went on and there were periods of time when she was severely agitated and confused, I am grateful that I could be there to try to calm her; even though it didn't really work, I was glad to be there.  And then, even when she was sleeping more than she was awake, I am grateful that I got to sit by her side, holding her hand and stroking her hair.  What precious time it was to be with her.

There is no one who can ever truly understand the mysteries of God's plan for life and death.  It is so far beyond us.  When people die, why people die...there are rarely answers.  But what I do know is that God has plan.  He is sovereign.  Every day of our lives are written in His book before any one of them comes to be (Psalm 139:16), so although I never expected to be in this place, at this time, losing my mom, I know that God foreknew it from the beginning of time, and most importantly, that she is in His hands.  And soon, when God, in His divine providence, calls her home, she will be in His presence.  Praise God!

That is the best part of all of this.  My mom is going home to be with Jesus!  Does it hurt for me and all of us who are left down here without her? Yes.  Am I learning the hard way that losing my mom has a greater impact on my life than I expected? Yes.  Does it feel too soon and too quick?  Yes.  Yes, BUT...I have such complete joy and peace in knowing that she is going to a place where she will never hurt again.  She will be healed and completely whole, inside and out!  She will be filled with more love and joy and peace that she has ever known on this earth.  She will be in the presence of our Savior, and in Him there is no lack!  Glory to God!  My mom is going to heaven, and there is going to be one great, big awesome party for her when she gets there!

I am losing my mom, and it hurts.  But I am so happy for her, and I can't wait to see her when I get there! Love you, Mom!